HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois — Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, the person of interest identified by police after Monday’s shooting in a Chicago suburb that killed six people and injured 38 others, left a long trail of tribute to mass shootings and public murders on social media platforms, according to numerous profiles that appear to be his.
Crimo acted as a rapper who went by the name “Awake”, whose recent music videos have featured images of mass murder.
Crimo’s most recent video on YouTube showed him in the aftermath of a school shooting. It ends with Crimo draping himself in an American flag. Another music video showed a cartoon image of a man wearing a shirt with his YouTube channel’s logo on it, holding a long gun and being shot by police.
The YouTube account that hosted his videos, which was previously open to the public, was down Monday night.
Crimo had his own Discord server, where fans and people who knew him could chat. The community had a political board full of nihilistic political memes. The most recent pre-shooting message, posted in March, was a photo of Budd Dwyer, Pennsylvania state treasurer who committed suicide on live television in the late 1980s, along with the caption: “I wish politicians still spoke kept similar.”
On Discord, fans shared posts Crimo had made of himself. An apparent selfie Crimo took in March reads: “Cursed image screenshot and sent to everyone or commit no more alive,” a reference to suicide.
After Monday’s shooting, 4chan trolls invaded the community and used it as a gathering place to praise the gunman and post memes about the attack. The Discord channel was shut down around 6 p.m. ET, just hours after Crimo was named as a person of interest.
Crimo also regularly posted on a bulletin board discussing graphic depictions of murder, suicide and death. His most recent message on that bulletin board came last week, when he posted a video of a beheading.
Crimo did not often post about major political figures on his websites, except for two posts about former President Donald Trump.
A video posted to Crimo’s YouTube page on Jan. 2, 2021, appears to show Crimo among a crowd of protesters cheering Trump’s presidential motorcade outside an airport. Crimo turns the phone over and reveals his face at the end of the video.
Crimo is also seen draped in a Trump flag in a June 27, 2021 post on Twitter. The message has only the word “spam” as its caption.
Mark Heymann, 22, who said he went to Highland Park High School with Crimo, said Crimo was a rapper who released music when they were in school together.
Heymann said he doesn’t remember much about Crimo. “He always seemed a little strange, but I can’t describe it beyond that,” he said.
Crimo’s father, who reportedly owned convenience stores, staged a failed campaign for Highland Park mayor in 2019.
Nearby, the family were known to be quiet people who kept to themselves, people who lived on the block said.
Michael Gammel, who lives next door, recalls a conversation in which the elder Crimo alluded to his son having problems at school, which the father described as “emotional problems.”
Gammel and another neighbor who did not want to be identified remembered the younger Crimo driving around on an electric scooter with loud music so people knew when he was coming and going. The last time, Gammel said, was around 10 a.m. Monday morning.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told NBC’s “TODAY” show on Tuesday that she didn’t believe until Monday that Crimo had previously been known to police.
She revealed that she knew him when he participated in the Cub Scouts, a Boy Scouts of America program for children from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“I know him as someone who was a cub scout when I was the cub leader,” she said. “It’s one of those things where you step back and say, ‘What happened? How did someone get so mad? Is this hateful?’ And then take it out on innocent people who literally had a family day out.”
When asked how he was then, she replied, “He was just a little boy.”
Dennis Romero† Rima Abdelkader† Sarah Kaufman† Maya Brown and Marlene Lenthang contributed†