The suspected gunman who allegedly opened fire on a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Ill., obtained the “high powered” rifle he used legally, authorities said Tuesday.
The 22-year-old suspect allegedly dressed in women’s clothing to sneak away from the crime scene, police said, and was later identified by federal agents based on the weapon he left behind at the scene.
At least 30 people sustained injuries and six were killed when the suspect opened fire on Monday from a rooftop near the parade route. According to police, the victims’ ages ranged from 8 to 85. The suspect was at large for hours before being arrested—leading to Fourth of July events across the Chicago area being canceled.
Illinois is home to some of the most strict gun laws in America. Highland Park passed a ban on AR-15 rifles and AK-47 rifles in response to the Sandy Hook School massacre in 2012. Police said Tuesday that the suspect used a high powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” and that he had bought it legally in the Chicago area. The suspect also had several other guns.
It is the latest devastating mass shooting in a public place in America—and one of numerous outbreaks of violence across the U.S. over the holiday weekend.
Was it a mistake?
A shooter set fire to a rooftop of a building nearby while Highland Park was holding a Fourth of July Parade at 10:00 AM Monday. Witnesses said that at least 70 shots were fired and they initially believed the fire was fireworks.
According to witnesses, the massacre caused panic among paradegoers and resulted in children being separated from their parents.
The police responded quickly to the incident, but the gunman managed to flee. Highland Park residents were asked to stay put as the shooter was still at large. Over 100 law enforcement officers arrived on the scene to help locate him. Suburban communities in Illinois began canceling Fourth of July festivities, urging residents to remain at home while “the threat is still at large”.
On Monday evening, police named 22-year old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III as a person of interest in the case. Eight hours later, he was taken into custody in Lake Forest. He led police on a chase after an officer tried to pull him over for a traffic violation. Crimo was not charged with the shooting.
We know a lot about the gunman.
Authorities had “a significant amount of digital evidence” that helped identify Crimo as a suspect, according to Christopher Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. According to Christopher Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, Crimo posted online music under a pseudonym. Many of his music videos included animated portrayals of mass killing.
The online activity “reflected a plan and a desire to commit carnage for a long time in advance,” Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told NBC’s Today on Tuesday.
Rotering stated that she met the suspect when she was Cub Scout troop leader. “He was just a little boy,” she said, “It’s one of those things where you step back and you say, ‘What happened?’ How did somebody become this angry, this hateful to then take it out on innocent people who, literally, were just having a family day out?”
Highland Park passed an assault weapon ban in 2013.
Highland Park passed an order banning AR-15s, AK-47s within the first few months of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It was hotly contested by the Chicago residents. Tribune reported. Local pediatrician and Illinois Rifle Association filed suit against the city. The decision was upheld by U.S. Supreme Court.
The suspect used a “high-powered rifle” that was “similar to an AR-15,” police said Tuesday. The police would not confirm whether the suspect purchased the gun from a Highland Park store or if he gave it to another address. Another rifle and handguns were recovered in subsequent searches of the suspect’s vehicle and home.
What are the victims of this tragedy?
Police said that six victims were killed and 30 more injured during the shooting. This included several children aged 8 years old. Five victims were killed on the spot, and one was taken to the hospital.
Highland Park Hospital admits 25 patients with gunshot wounds. According to Dr. Brigham Temple (medical director of emergency preparedness), 19 of them were discharged and returned home. He said that “four or five” of those hospitalized were children, with injuries varying. “Some of them were minor,” Temple said at a press conference Monday. “Some of them were much more severe.”
Publicly identified so far are two victims.
Jacki, 63-year-old, was a member North Shore Congregation Israel of Glencoe (Ill.) and one of the victims of the fourth of July shooting. “Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” the synagogue wrote in a statement. “There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki’s death and sympathy for her family and loved ones.”
Nicolas Toledo (76), who was there with his family, was also killed. “What was [supposed] to be a fun family day turned into a horrific nightmare for us all,” his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, wrote in a fundraising message. “As a family we are broken, and numb.”
TIME will continue to update the information as it becomes available.
A violent July 4 weekend
Highland Park shootings were the biggest holiday weekend attacks, and not the only ones that ruined Fourth of July celebrations. According to the Gun Violence Archive (which defines mass shootings as incidents where more than four people are killed or shot, but not the shooter), there have been 18 shootings across America since Friday.
The pattern of mass shootings continues to haunt a nation still grieving from the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas where 17 children and two teachers were killed; and the shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y. supermarket where a gunman—who was allegedly driven by racist intent—shot and killed 10 Black people.
Less than 12 hours before the Highland Park shooting on Monday, five people were injured in Chicago’s south side, roughly 35 miles away. According to NBC Chicago, there were at least 57 victims in Chicago, with nine fatalities.
On Monday, Philadelphia police shot two officers near Philadelphia Museum of Art. Police said that eight people sustained injuries in Monday’s shooting at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis. According to police, one person was killed in Kenosha and four others were hurt. One person was also killed in Sacramento (Calif.) and four others were hurt when shots were fired at a closing club on Monday morning. Six others were also injured during a shooting incident in Richmond, Va. Four more were wounded in an attack in Kansas City.
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