Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, a 22-year-old white man, allegedly spent several weeks planning a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade that he carried out Monday morning, authorities said during their latest press conference on Tuesday just after 11 a.m.
The Independence Day attack killed six people and injured over 30 others, most of whom were treated at Highland Park and Evanston Hospitals. Eyewitnesses described a scene of bloody panic as automatic rounds rang out over the parade shortly after 10 a.m. Monday.
Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing – apparently to disguise himself and the distinct tattoos on his face and neck – at the parade, and he accessed the roof of a local business by climbing a ladder attached to the side of a building in downtown Highland Park, according to Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force. He then fired over 70 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon “similar to an AR-15” that he had purchased legally from a store in the Chicago region, Covelli said.
According to the preliminary timeline of events that law enforcement has constructed, Crimo then climbed down from the roof, dropped the firearm and blended in with the crowd in his women’s clothing disguise. At that point, he walked to his mother’s house, which is located in the area, and borrowed a silver Honda Fit that police eventually found him driving in north Chicago on Monday evening after an hours-long search, Covelli told reporters at Tuesday morning’s press conference.
Police also found a second rifle in the vehicle that Crimo was driving and multiple other firearms in his home, all of which were legally obtained in the area, officials said. Authorities have yet to charge Crimo for the attack at this time, but another press conference is set for 3 p.m. Tuesday where officials are expected to announce formal charges, according to Covelli.
Covelli added that the “shooting appears to be completely random,” and no evidence has emerged to suggest the attack was racially-motivated or a hate crime. Authorities have yet to identify a motive for the shooting, according to Covelli.
Crimo allegedly had “some law enforcement contacts” in the past, but no interactions were violent.
Thus far, friends and family have identified two of the people killed in the attack. Nicolas Toledo, a grandfather in his late 70s, was visiting family in Highland Park when three bullets struck and killed him, his granddaughter confirmed to local news outlets on Monday. North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe announced on its website late Monday that Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong member of the synagogue and a longtime preschool teacher and staff member there, was among those killed in the attack.
In an appearance on NPR Tuesday morning, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said she expects charges to be filed later in the day, and she also spoke at the press conference outside the Highland Park Police Department alongside Covelli, where she said several vigils and opportunities for mourning are planned for the remainder of the day at local churches, synagogues and other public gathering places.
“We’re 24 hours in,” Covelli said. “There’s a lot of work to be done here. We’re not done.”
In a statement released Tuesday morning, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss condemned the violent and bloody attack and spoke out against the easy access to assault weapons that allows tragedies like this one to occur almost every day in the United States. “It feels as though our society is coming apart,” he wrote to the community.
Biss also praised local law enforcement for their quick response to the attack and their swift decision in partnership with elected leaders to cancel the city’s Fourth of July parade, concert and fireworks display, as Crimo remained at large for almost nine hours.
“White supremacy sure isn’t a new phenomenon in this country, and political violence isn’t either,” Biss wrote in the statement. “But today, white supremacists have digital tools they can use to target and radicalize young white men, who then get messages from mainstream sources that they interpret as encouragement, and furthermore have no trouble getting their hands on military-style weapons.”