Robert E. Crimo III is charged with seven first-degree murders for shooting at the July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Lake County State Attorney Eric Rinehart said that the 22-year-old faces other charges. In the request for indictment, the prosecutor wanted to add that Crimo would be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of reducing the sentence.
The prosecutor has asked that the young man be detained without the possibility of release on bail.
At the moment, he is the only suspect in the shooting, which caused seven deaths and 47 injuries.
During the July 4 parade shooting, over 70 shots were fired with a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15”, Christopher Covelli, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said at a press conference.
Crimo legally bought two high-powered rifles and three other weapons despite the police intervening at his home twice in 2019 for attempted suicide, and because he threatened to kill his family, Christopher Covelli said at the press conference.
An attack “premeditated for weeks” but without a precise motive
Twenty-four hours after the 4th of July massacre on the outskirts of Chicago, details of the massacre begin to emerge, including the profile of the killer, Robert E. Crimo III. He is described as a lonely, frustrated and marginalized 20-year-old, a rapper with a passion for violent rhymes, and a fan of Donald Trump in his spare time.
On the morning of the Independence Day parade, the killer climbed to the roof of a building along the way using a fire escape with a high-capacity rifle in hand and began firing on the unsuspecting crowd. Seventy shots were fired, the police said, which could have killed many more people than the seven he shot and the 38 he wounded. Then he dropped his weapon and mingled with the crowd wearing women’s clothes, perhaps even a wig, to blend in and hide the many tattoos on his face and neck.
Crimo went straight to his mother’s house and took his Honda before being stopped by the police, who found another rifle in the car. A very well-studied sequence of events suggests that the attack was “premeditated for weeks”, yet without a specific goal.
Currently, the police have not found a motive and have excluded religious or racist motives. The random attack of a freak broke seven people’s lives with a purchased weapon, once again, legally and easily.
And that perhaps, once again, could have been avoided, as emerges from the examination of his social profile but also two episodes of 2019.
The first is his attempted suicide in April of that year; an event dealt with by the services mental health. The second five months later, when he threatened to “kill everyone”, as investigators reported, adding that the threat was aimed at family members. The intervening agents seized 16 knives, a sword and a dagger but did not proceed with the arrest because there was no valid reason, and the family members did not report. Despite this, the young man, who is now collaborating in the investigation, managed to buy five weapons, including rifles and pistols.
Analyzing the social profiles, it also emerges that Crimo, known by the nickname ‘Awake the rapper’, had exhibited violent behaviour despite, as always in these cases, the family trivially describes him as a “quiet and lonely” boy.
In one of the videos published by the killer, and now removed from YouTube along with all those he had posted, one could see a computer-created character in tactical gear and a gun in his hand pointed at a kneeling person, his hands raised begging for mercy. In another, there is Crimo himself wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest in a schoolroom next to an American flag and a voiceover saying, “I need to leave now. It is my destiny. Everything has led to this; nothing can stop me, not even myself.” In another video, the killer shouts: “Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom? Freedom.” And again: “I hate it when others get more attention than me on the Internet”.
Then there is the passion for Trump. In one video, Crimo expects a presidential procession together with other supporters. In another, he participates in a rally of the former president in Chicago in September 2020 disguised as the character of the famous children’s book series ‘Where’s Waldo’. While on June 27, 2021, he posted a photo of himself wrapped in Trump’s flag, ‘Make America Great Again’. Analysts are unsure whether all these details could characterize the July 4 killer as a tout court supporter of the former president. But he was undoubtedly immersed in that subculture that proliferated on the Internet’s fringes and was also imbued with Uvalde’s killer, Salvador Ramos, and many other massacres before them. Thus, for the umpteenth time, America finds itself mourning its victims with flags at half-mast in a city, Highland Park, which banned assault weapons nine years ago and in one state, the Illinois, having one of the most restrictive gun laws in the US and one of the lowest rates of assault weapons.