Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart announces charges against Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III for the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park. Credit: Screenshot via NBC Chicago

Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III was ordered held without bond Wednesday, July 6, by a Lake County Circuit Court judge after being charged with seven counts of first degree murder, according to Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.

Rinehart and Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force explained more chilling details of Crimo’s weeks of planning as well as his movements after the shooting that killed seven people and injured about 38 others at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade.

Covelli said Crimo voluntarily confessed to the shootings when questioned by the Highland Park Police.  “He went into detail about what he had done,” Covelli said. Between his information, evidence gathered for the courtroom via Rinehart, here is the narrative police have put together so far:

In April, 2019, it was reported to the Highland Park police that Crimo had recently attempted suicide. In September of that year, one of Crimo’s relatives called police on Crimo when he said “he was going to kill everyone” in the family. Police went to Crimo’s home and confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but no firearms. No charges were filed.

In 2020, Crimo’s father sponsored his Illinois FOID card application and Crimo legally bought four weapons: a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle used in the Highland Park shooting, a Kel-Tec Sub 200, which was found in his car when he surrendered to police, a Remington 700 and a shotgun.

In 2021, Crimo legally bought a Glock 43X pistol, after his 21st birthday.

On July 4, Crimo carried out a plan he had been working on for weeks. He put on women’s clothing, applied make-up to cover his distinctive neck and face tattoos and walked downtown to a building not far from his mother’s house, where he was living.

He climbed up to the rooftop via a fire escape ladder, positioned himself and emptied the 30 rounds in his weapon clip, firing on the parade crowd. He reloaded the clip twice and kept firing, leaving more than 80 shell casings on the roof. When he was finished, he climbed down the ladder, walked away from the rooftop after the shooting carrying in a red blanket, the rifle he had used.

As he walked down the alley, Crimo dropped the rifle in the blanket, leaving it behind and giving police a serial number that allowed them to trace the gun back to Crimo.

Crimo walked to his mother’s house nearby and borrowed her car, a silver Honda Fit. Crimo took with him his Kel-Tec Sub 200 along with 60 rounds of ammunition. And while federal, state, county and local law enforcement were conducting a door-to-door manhunt in Highland Park for more than eight hours, Crimo drove to Madison, Wisconsin.

“He did see a celebration that was occurring in Madison,” Covelli said. “And he seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting in Madison.”

He decided that he had not planned and prepared enough for another shooting. So, he drove south where the car was spotted by police in North Chicago and Crimo was captured in Lake Forest. Authorities seized the remaining firearms from Crimo’s father’s home.

Police have no motive to speak of as of yet. They also believe right now, that the attack was random. Crimo will be held in the Lake County Jail as the exhaustive investigation continues with his next court appearance on July 28.

The charges against Crimo are just beginning, Rinehart reiterated.

Rinehart emphasized that Crimo will face “dozens of more charges” pending a full investigation in the coming weeks and months, but the murder charges will be enough to guarantee life in prison for Crimo without the possibility of parole.

Rinehart also said he and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch have been talking regularly about the case as new evidence is being proceesed. It is possible Crimo may also face federal charges as well.

Red flag laws not widely understood

Considering the legal access Crimo had to deadly weapons, Rinehart encouraged local residents to use Illinois’ red flag law in the future to take guns out of the hands of unstable individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others. That law allows concerned family members or friends to report a weapon to law enforcement, and officers can then review the case and confiscate the weapon, if necessary.

“Separate from these red flag laws, which are very powerful in Illinois, we should also ban assault weapons in Illinois and beyond,” Rinehart said.

Crimo’s father has been a prominent figure in the Highland Park community for years, formerly owning a local shop called Bob’s Pantry and Deli. He also ran for mayor against current Mayor Nancy Rotering in 2019.

According to photos reviewed by the RoundTable, Crimo was spotted at a rally in Northbrook for former President Donald Trump wearing red and white striped clothing reminiscent of Waldo from the Where’s Waldo? children’s books. Crimo also maintained an online presence on YouTube, where he posted several music videos under his rap name “Awake.” Those videos contained footage of the Highland Park Fourth of July parade route and an animated school shooting with a stick figure firing a rifle.

“In the courtroom, we will seek the maximum sentence against this offender, not because we seek vengeance, but because justice and the healing process demand it,” Rinehart said Tuesday, July 5. “As we go forward in the courtroom and the community, we must do everything we can to make sure the horror that marked these streets, that echoed from these buildings, never happens again.”

The names of those killed

On Tuesday, July 5, Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek announced the names and ages of the first six of seven victims who were gunned down at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

The six people killed were mostly residents of the Northern suburb. But Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, was from Morelos, Mexico. Yet, Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88, were all from Highland Park. A seventh victim also died Tuesday at a hospital outside Lake County, Banek said, but officials did not yet release his or her name.

“The Highland Park community, like so many before us, is devastated,” Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said during the press conference. “It is impossible to imagine the pain of this kind of tragedy until it happens in your backyard. 

“We will continue to come together, as we always do, in hard times,” Rotering continued. “We are Highland Park strong.” 

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.”

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...