The Illinois teen accused of fatally shooting seven people and injuring dozens more during a Fourth of July parade, disguised as a woman to disguise herself during the disaster, police said on Tuesday.
Highland Park resident Robert “Bobby” Crimo, 21, “did this to hide his facial tattoos, his identity, and help him escape with… other people fleeing the chaos,” Dep. Chief Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, said at a news conference.
The gun that came with the Highland Park Fourth of July Parade was legally purchased in Illinois by Crimo, who had planned the attack “several weeks,” according to Covelli. After the massacre, he blended into the crowd and ran to his mother’s house, he added. Police believe Crimo fired more than 70 shots at innocent bystanders to enjoy the day, Covelli said.
“My boyfriend gave me this little boy and said he was under this dad who got shot in the leg,” he said. a parade goer told The Daily Beast† “They were trying to stop the bleeding, so I took the boy down to the garage.”
Crimo’s disguise reportedly included a dress and a long wig, which can be seen in a photo obtained by Chicago news channel WGN Investigates.
On Tuesday mornings, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering used an interview on NBC’s Today to reflect on the horrific massacre in her quiet Chicago suburb. Highland Park has had a ban on assault weapons since 2013† Illinois has no statewide ban on assault weapons, but does require mandatory background checksbans domestic violence and stalkers from buying weapons, and bans people from carrying weapons in schools, bars and demonstrations. According to the Everytown gun safety nonprofitIllinois gun laws are the sixth strictest in the US, after Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii and California. a 37 percent lower death rate from weapons than the national average.
“I don’t know where the weapon came from, but I do know it was legally obtained,” Rotering said. “I think at some point this country needs to have a conversation about these weekly events where dozens of people have been killed with legally acquired weapons. If that’s what our laws stand for, we need to rethink the laws.”
Authorities have not yet released the exact brand of the weapon or where and when it was purchased, but Covelli described it as “similar to an AR-15”. It was left on the roof that the gunman used as a sniper’s nest, firing indiscriminately at crowds of families enjoying the parade. Highland Park Police did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for more information about the weapon’s purchase on Tuesday morning.
NBC 5 reports that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms used DNA collected from a rifle found at the scene of the attack to identify Crimo. In addition to the ATF, Covelli said the Highland Park PD, the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, the Illinois State Police and the FBI also assisted in the investigation.
Local police arrested Crimo Monday evening after a short chase after an officer spotted his silver Honda Fit.
“There is no indication that anyone else was involved in this attack,” Covelli said on Tuesday. “By all indications, it appears that Crimo acted alone.”
Disturbing videos on the social media channels of locals in Illinois – where Crimo used the alias Awake the Rapper – are full of violent imagery and shooting fantasies, including an animation of a gunman being killed by police.
As The Daily Beast reportedCrimo posted a video to his personal blog last year showing Central Avenue in Highland Park – the main artery of yesterday’s parade route.
Another referred to the assassin of John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. Crimo also reportedly posted a video on an online bulletin board of a person being beheaded.
Crimo is a video gamer and pro wrestling fan, his social media presence suggests. His precise political affiliations are still somewhat unclear — he’s shared photos of himself holding a Trump flag at one of the ex-president’s rallies, but he’s also happily posted messages featuring President Joe Biden.
Much of Crimo’s social media presence includes a symbol that roughly resembles one used by Suomen Sisu, a far-right Finnish organization that “tries to protect Finnish culture [and] traditions† (Other Finns have described the group as: “Nazi-spirited.”) Crimo, however, does not mention Suomen Sisu by name in his posts. He also served as the manager of a Discord channel called “SS” which has since been removed.
On Tuesday, Covelli said investigators are “watching” Crimo’s online activities to “see what they reveal.”
Mark Heymann, 22, told The Daily Beast that he grew up with Crimo — and they were in Cub Scouts in grade school together — but “couldn’t say he knew him too well.”
“He was a year younger than me. I knew who he was and I knew his name,” Heymann said, adding that even though Crimo wasn’t his friend, he knew “something wasn’t right, something wasn’t right about it’.
“I don’t remember him being in any specific group of friends in high school, but he was definitely a loner,” he added.
According to Covelli, detectives have spoken with “numerous witnesses” in the past 24 hours and have already analyzed “numerous video clips, both from video recordings from cell phones and from fixed cameras in the area.
But authorities have apparently not yet found a motive, with Covelli telling reporters that police “have no evidence at this time that it was racially motivated, motivated by religion.”