A man charged with seven counts of murder after firing more than 70 rounds at an Independence Day parade in a suburb of Chicago legally bought five guns, including the high-powered rifle used in the shooting, although authorities twice bought it in 2019 he was called home under threats of violence and suicide.
Ake County Prosecutor Eric Rinehart said the suspect would receive a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder. He promised to press dozens of other charges.
A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said the suspected shooter, arrested late Monday, used a rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray more than 70 rounds into a crowd from the top of a commercial building. who had gathered for the parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on the shores of Lake Michigan.
A seventh victim died Tuesday from his injuries.
More than three dozen other people were injured in the attack, which task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said the suspect had been planning for several weeks.
The attack came less than three years after police went to the suspect’s home after a family member called that he threatened to “kill everyone” there.
Covelli said police seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no evidence he was in possession of any weapons at this time in September 2019.
Police also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect in April 2019, Covelli said.
The suspect legally purchased the rifle used in the Illinois attack last year, Covelli said. In all, police said, he bought five firearms, which officers seized at his father’s home.
The revelation about his gun purchases is just the latest example of young men who have been able to acquire guns and carry out massacres in recent months despite glaring warning signs about their mental health and propensity to violence.
The Illinois State Police, which issues licenses for gun owners, said the shooter applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19. His father sponsored his application.
At the time, “there was insufficient basis to determine a clear and present threat” and deny the request, state police said in a statement.
Investigators who questioned the suspect and reviewed his social media posts have not determined a motive or found evidence that he targeted victims based on their race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said.
Earlier in the day, FBI agents peered inside trash cans and under picnic blankets as they searched the crime scene for more evidence.
The shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of revelers fled in horror.
A day later, strollers, lawn chairs and other items left by panicked parade-goers were left in a wide police perimeter.
Outside the police tape, some residents pulled up to collect blankets and chairs that had been left behind.
David Shapiro, 47, said the gunfire quickly turned the parade into “chaos”.
“People didn’t immediately know where the shots were coming from, whether the shooter was in front of them or behind them and was chasing them,” he said Tuesday as he fetched a stroller and lawn chairs.
The gunman initially evaded capture by disguising himself as a woman and mingling with the fleeing crowd, Covelli said.
The shooting was only the latest to shake up the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have become killing zones in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to celebrate its founding and the ties that still bind it together.
A police officer stopped 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III north of the scene a few hours after police released his photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.
His father Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran for mayor in 2019. The candidate who won that race, current Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, said she knew Crimo when they were boys with Cub Scouts.
“And it’s one of those things where you take a step back and you’re like, ‘What happened?’ Rotering said on NBC’s “Today” show. “How did someone get so angry, so hateful, and then take it out on innocent people who literally just had a family day?”
Crimo’s attorney, Thomas A. Durkin, a well-known Chicago attorney, said he intends to plead not guilty to all the charges.
When asked about his client’s emotional state, Durkin said he only spoke to Crimo once — over the phone for ten minutes. He declined to comment further.
Steve Greenberg, the parents’ attorney, told The Associated Press Tuesday night that the parents are not concerned about being charged with anything related to their son’s case.
“There is no chance that they will be charged with anything criminal,” he said. “You haven’t done anything wrong. They are as stunned and shocked as everyone else.”
The shooting took place at a point on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime vantage points early in the day.
Among them were Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico, and Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong parishioner and collaborator at the nearby North Shore Congregation of Israel. The Lake County coroner released the names of four other victims.
Nine people, ranging in age from 14 to 70, remained hospitalized Tuesday, hospital officials said.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 15 shootings across the US that have killed four or more people, including that in Highland Park.
Eight people were killed and 60 others injured in numerous small-scale shootings in nearby Chicago over the weekend of July 4th.
In 2013, Highland Park officials approved a ban on semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. A local doctor and the Illinois State Rifle Association were quick to question the liberal suburb’s stance.
The litigation ended on the doorstep of the US Supreme Court in 2015 when judges declined to hear the case, leaving the suburb’s restrictions in place.
Under Illinois law, persons who have been convicted of felonies, are addicted to drugs, or are labeled as “mentally deranged” and are capable of harming themselves or others may be denied the purchase of guns.
That might have deterred a suicidal crimo from getting a gun.
But under the law, “a court, panel, commission or other legal authority” must determine who is a “mentally ill person.”
The state has what it calls a red flag law designed to stop dangerous people before they kill, but it requires family members, relatives, roommates or the police to ask a judge to order gun confiscations.
Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper who posted dozens of videos and songs on social media, some of which were menacing and violent.
In an animated video that has since been removed from YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in the dark” as a drawing of a man aiming a gun appears, a body on the ground and another figure with hands raised in the distance.
Federal agents checked Crimo’s online profiles, and a preliminary examination of his internet history revealed that he had researched mass killings and downloaded several photos depicting acts of violence, including a beheading, a police official said.
The officer was unable to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in Chicago Tuesday to speak at the National Education Association’s annual meeting, visited the scene of the shooting to offer condolences to first responders and local officials.
“The entire nation should understand and have a degree of empathy to understand that this can happen anywhere, in any peace-loving community,” Harris said in brief comments to reporters at Highland Park. “And we should stand together and talk about why it needs to stop.”
Shapiro, the Highland Park resident who fled the parade with his family, said his 4-year-old son woke up screaming later in the night.
“He’s too young to understand what happened,” Shapiro said. “But he knows something bad has happened.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/chicago-parade-shooting-suspect-bought-five-weapons-despite-threats-41817487.html The alleged Chicago Highland Park parade assassin has bought five guns despite threats