Robert E. Crimo III: What we know about the Highland Park shooting suspect
Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, faces seven charges of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting, which authorities say he allegedly committed by climbing onto the roof of a nearby business and opening fire minutes into the parade, sending parade spectators and participants running for safety.
Investigators believe the suspect planned “this attack for several weeks,” Chris Covelli, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said Tuesday at one of several press conferences. The suspect dressed in women’s clothing to conceal his identity, Covelli said, mingled with the crowd as they fled the area and went to his mother’s house.
Law enforcement has yet to establish a motive, but Covelli said there was no information to suggest the attack was “racial, religiously motivated or any other protected status.” There’s no indication anyone else was involved, Covelli said.
The suspect took his mother’s vehicle and a member of the community saw him, Covelli said. This individual called 911 and North Chicago Police conducted a traffic stop and took him into custody.
Police previously said Crimo was 22, but on Tuesday said he was actually 21.
He is due in court on Wednesday, and Lake County state’s attorney Eric Rinehart said he will ask a judge to hold Crimo in custody without bond. Rinehart said “dozens more fillers” will be added later. Attorney Thomas Durkin represents Crimo, he confirmed to CNN.
Attorney Steve Greenberg said Tuesday that he represents Crimo’s parents and released a statement attributed to them.
“We are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and this is a terrible tragedy for many families, the victims, the protesters, the community and ours,” the statement read. “Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.”
Here’s what we know about the suspect:
Police took knives from home after Crimo said he would kill people
In September 2019, Highland Park Police attended Crimo’s home after a family member reported he said he was going to kill everyone, according to Covelli.
“The threat was directed against the family inside the house,” he said.
Police confiscated a collection of sharp objects – 16 knives, a dagger and a sword – but made no arrests as there were no signed complaints against Crimo. Highland Park Police informed state police of the visit. Involuntary engagement was not an option, Covelli said.
State Police Master Sgt. Delilah Garcia said they checked to see if Crimo had a gun owner’s ID card that should have been revoked, but he didn’t have a card.
Five months earlier, local police had attended the home after receiving a report that Crimo had attempted suicide a week earlier. Officers spoke to him, and his parents were notified that mental health professionals were handling the case, Covelli said.
Covelli later said the suspect purchased five firearms, including two rifles, after the police visit in September.
He legally obtained the gun used, officials say
The suspect legally purchased the gun he used in Monday’s shooting, Covelli said Tuesday, describing it as a “high-powered rifle” that fired bullets at high velocity. The weapon, which he described as “similar to an AR-15,” was purchased locally, Covelli said, in the Chicagoland area.
Investigators believe he fired more than 70 rounds during the attack, Covelli said, and there is no indication the weapon was modified.
Crimo also legally purchased a second rifle found in his vehicle when he was apprehended, as well as other weapons recovered from his home, which Covelli described as pistols.
Evidence of firearms was found on the roof of a business near the shooting, Covelli said Monday, describing the weapon as a “high-powered rifle”. At the time, authorities were working to track down the firearm to find out who bought it and its origins, according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesperson Kim Nerheim.
The accelerated gun trace was “a major investigative lead,” Covelli said Tuesday, and helped identify the suspect along with witness statements and community videos.
A total of 39 patients were treated at four NorthShore University HealthSystem hospitals, according to spokesman Jim Anthony, who said nine patients remained hospitalized as of Tuesday afternoon. Four are in good condition, four are in stable condition and one was in critical condition.
Eight of the nine patients suffered gunshot wounds, including the critical patient, a 69-year-old man, Anthony said.
Police in Highwood – the suspect’s hometown, just outside Highland Park – have had no previous crime-related interactions with Crimo, according to Chief Dave Wentz.
The only contact the department had with Crimo was in a non-criminal incident where Crimo was present when he was underage, Wentz said.
“We literally have nothing on him,” Wentz said. “He wasn’t potentially involved in anything.”
He posted violent images online
The alleged shooter has released music on several major streaming platforms under the pseudonym Awake the Rapper, and he has apparently created and posted online music videos featuring disturbing lyrics and animated scenes of gun violence.
In a video titled “Are you Awake”, a cartoon animation of a stickman shooter resembling the suspect’s appearance is seen wearing tactical gear and performing an attack with a rifle. Crimo, seen with multicolored hair and facial tattoos, says, “I just have to do it. It’s my destiny.”
In another video titled “Toy Soldier”, a similar stick figure resembling the suspect is shown lying face down in a pool of his own blood, surrounded by police officers with their weapons drawn.
Law enforcement is reviewing videos posted online, Covelli said at Tuesday’s news conference, noting that police had not previously been notified. “We’ll watch them and see what they reveal.”
“And it’s one of those things where you step back and say, what happened? How did someone get so angry and hateful,” she said, “for then go after innocent people who were literally having a family day?”
YouTube and Spotify have removed content related to the suspect from their platforms, the companies confirmed on Tuesday. They declined to answer questions about whether the content had been flagged or previously flagged for violating their respective terms of service. The companies also declined to say precisely when they removed the suspect’s content.
CNN has also reached out to Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and Pandora with similar questions, but the companies have yet to respond.
His uncle says he saw no warning signs
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering knew the suspect when she was her wolf pack leader, she told CNN: “Many years ago he was just a little boy, a quiet little boy I knew.”
“It breaks my heart. I see this photo and through the tattoos I see the little boy,” she said. “I don’t know what got him to this point.”
The suspect’s uncle, Paul A. Crimo, was “heartbroken” to learn that his nephew was suspected of being responsible for Monday’s shooting, telling CNN: “There were no signs that I saw who would make him do that.”
The suspect lived in an apartment behind a house in Highwood owned by his father, said Paul Crimo, who also lives in the house. He last saw his nephew on Sunday evening, he said, sitting on a recliner in the house and looking at his computer.
“Everything was normal,” he said.
To the knowledge of Paul Crimo, his nephew didn’t have a job, he told CNN, although he worked at Panera Bread before the Covid-19 pandemic. Paul Crimo said he had never seen the suspect engage in any violence or disturbing behavior. He was also unaware of his nephew’s political views, describing him as a “quiet” person.
“He’s usually alone. He’s a lonely, quiet person. He keeps everything to himself.”
The suspect’s father and Paul Crimo’s brother, Robert Crimo Jr., have previously run for mayor, he said. “We are good people here, and to have this is devastating.”
“I’m so sorry for all the families who lost their lives,” said Paul Crimo.
CNN’s Jeff Winter, Yahya Abou-Ghazala, David Williams, Rebekah Riess, Brian Fung and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.