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Highland Park Shooting Live Updates: Suspect Charged With 7 Murders

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The family of the 21-year-old man identified as the gunman who fired into a crowd celebrating the Fourth of July in Highland Park, Illinois, appeared to be deeply rooted in the community. His father ran for mayor; his grandfather was born in the city and was buried in a cemetery 13 miles outside the city.

But there were signs of trouble in the family.

In April 2019, someone who knew Robert E. Crimo III, the man identified as the gunman, called police to say the teen had committed suicide, police said.

Four months later, a relative contacted authorities and reported that Mr Crimo had threatened to “kill everyone.” Police officers removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the house, but there was no likely reason to arrest him at the time, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli told reporters Tuesday.

When a portrait of Mr Crimo surfaced, authorities said they were watching videos he posted on social media, some of which showed disturbing drawings of mass shootings.

“We’ll check them out and see what they reveal,” Chief Covelli said.

Mr Crimo’s grandfather, Robert Crimo, who died in 2018, was born in the city in 1929, according to his obituary. When his deli owner son ran for mayor against current mayor, Nancy Rotering, he said he wanted to improve local ordinances to help downtown businesses thrive.

“Highland Park is and always will be my home,” wrote Robert Crimo Jr. in an election questionnaire published in a local publication.

Ms Rotering, who has been the city’s mayor for 12 years, described the 2019 race as a “nice” race with no annoying campaigns. She won re-election with more than 73 percent of the vote, according to the Lake County office.

The Crimos’ longstanding bond with the city is typical of many residents of Highland Park, a community made up of many families of different generations. Ms Rotering said she knew Robert Crimo III when he was about 6 years old and a cub scout in a troop she led.

There was nothing special about Mr. Crimo then, who as a child learned to make fires and camp in the woods like the other cub scouts, she said.

“He was just a little boy,” said Mrs Rotering.

He didn’t go to college but spent time on social media as an aspiring artist and rapper on YouTube, according to his uncle, Paul Crimo, who spoke to a local TV station, FOX 32.

The music videos of Mr. Crimo seem to refer to mass shootings. One video features cartoon images of a gunman aiming a large gun and other figures spraying blood. Later in the video, the shooter lies in a pool of blood near police cars.

Another video shows Mr. Crimo with a newspaper on the wall behind him with a headline about the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President Kennedy in 1963. Mr. Crimo, who identified himself as “Awake the Rapper”, sits on a bed in front of the newspaper. The word “Awake” was tattooed on his left eyebrow.

Investigators are watching videos Mr Crimo made and they “will be part of the investigation,” Chief Covelli said.

Paul Crimo said he shared a family home with the younger Mr Crimo and spoke to him on Sunday evening. “I saw no signs of trouble. And if I had seen signs, I would have said something,” he said in the interview with FOX 32. “I am heartbroken and I will be heartbroken for the rest of my life.”

Authorities said Mr Crimo was given five firearms after the knives were seized from his home, including two AR-style rifles, some handguns and possibly a shotgun. But the uncle said he didn’t know where Mr. Crimo allegedly received the gun used in the shooting, and did not know whether Mr. Crimo had mental health problems.

Mr. Crimo was a “really quiet kid,” said the uncle. “He keeps to himself and he doesn’t express himself. He just sits down at his computer. There is no interaction between me and him.”

Credit…Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times

Jeremy Cahnmann, who ran an after-school sports program at Lincoln Elementary School about a decade ago, said what struck him was that Mr. Crimo and his brother often had to wait at the end of the day.

“When the program ended at 4:30 PM, everyone else had their parents or their grandparents or their guardians pick them up and take them home. And the last kids waiting there every day were the Crimo kids,” he said.

He said teachers at the school told Mr. Crimo were difficult to reach. “It was a common occurrence,” he said. “If they had to reach someone in that house, they just couldn’t.”

Mr Crimo, who was about 10 years old and went through “Bobby” at the time, was “average,” he said. “He was quiet, he wasn’t disruptive, and he wasn’t necessarily a problem any more than any other 10-year-old kid is.”

Nicolas and Andres Lopez, brothers who later attended Highland Park High School with Mr. Crimo, said they were friends with him.

“We were a group of five, we used to skateboard in Highland Park and Highwood,” said Nicolas Lopez. “We’d smoke and do high school stuff.”

Mr. Crimo dropped out of high school at one point, but the brothers said there was nothing during the time they were friends to suggest a problem.

“He was always quiet and reserved, but nice,” said 23-year-old Andres Lopez. “He was not a quiet boy who was dark then. He was quiet because he was nerdy. He wasn’t sinister.”

In 2017, the Lopezes’ older brother, Anthony LaPorte, died of a heroin overdose.

Mr Crimo spoke at the funeral, the brothers recalled.

“He was very upset and said that my brother was one of his only friends,” said Nicolas Lopez.

He said he believed that a woman Mr. Crimo was dating, broke up with him around the same time.

“Then he started acting weird,” Andres Lopez said. “He was withdrawn.”

Alfredo Balbuena, 22, said he told Mr. Crimo knew of Highland Park High School and described him as “a quiet, lonely kid” who often dressed in black.

“He kept to himself,” Mr Balbuena said. “He wore black belt stuff, emo stuff and had a lot of tattoos.”

Michael Levenson reporting contributed.

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