Police: Parade Gunman Bought 5 Weapons Despite Threats

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The gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago, killing at least seven people, legally bought two high-powered rifles and three other weapons despite authorities being called to his home twice in 2019 after he threatened suicide and violence, police said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force told a news conference that the suspected shooter, who was arrested late Monday, used a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray more than 70 rounds from atop a commercial building into a crowd that had gathered for the parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on the Lake Michigan shore.

Police said they were called to the suspect’s home in September 2019 after a family member called to say he was threatening “to kill everyone” there. Task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no sign he had any guns at the time.

The suspect legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois within the past year, Covelli said. In all, police said, he purchased five firearms, which were recovered by officers at his father’s home.

Police in April 2019 also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect, Covelli said.

It was not clear whether Crimo’s past contacts with police would have barred him from obtaining an Illinois gun owner’s license. State police, who issue the licenses, did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press inquiring about his eligibility.

The day after the shooting, authorities reported the death of a seventh person. More than three dozen other people were wounded in the attack, which Covelli said the suspect had planned for several weeks.

Investigators who have interrogated the suspect and reviewed his social media posts have not determined a motive for the attack or found any indication that he targeted victims by race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said.

Authorities have not filed criminal charges.

Earlier in the day, FBI agents peeked into trash cans and under picnic blankets as they searched for more evidence at the site where the assailant opened fire. The shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of revelers fled in terror.

A day later, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked parade goers remained inside a wide police perimeter. Outside the police tape, some residents drove up to collect blankets and chairs they abandoned.

David Shapiro, 47, said the spray of gunfire quickly turned the parade into “chaos.”

“People didn’t know right away where the gunfire was coming from, whether the gunman was in front or behind you chasing you,” he said Tuesday as he retrieved a stroller and lawn chairs.

The shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not only your hometown but it’s also right in front of you,” resident Ron Tuazon said as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday evening to retrieve chairs, blankets and a child’s bike that his family abandoned when the shooting began.

“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said. “We don’t blink any more. Until laws change, it’s going to be more of the same.”

A police officer pulled over Robert E. Crimo III north of the shooting scene several hours after police released his photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.

Law enforcement officials gave his age as 21 or 22. His father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran for mayor in 2019.

After evading initial capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, Crimo drove to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, then returned to Illinois, Covelli said.

The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day.

Among them was Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico. He was shot and died at the scene, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Also killed was Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong congregant and “beloved” staff member at nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, which announced her death on its website.

Toledo’s granddaughter told the Sun-Times that Toledo had spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico. Xochil Toledo said she remembers looking over at her grandfather, who was in his late 70s, as a band passed them.

“He was so happy,” she said. “Happy to be living in the moment.”

Xochil Toledo said her father tried to shield her grandfather and was shot in the arm. Her boyfriend also was shot in the back and taken to a hospital.

Sundheim had spent decades on the staff at North Shore Congregation Israel, teaching at the congregation’s preschool and later coordinating events, “all of this with tireless dedication,” the congregation said in its statement announcing her death.

“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” the statement said.

The Lake County coroner released the names of four other victims: 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein, 35-year-old Irina McCarthy, 37-year-old Kevin McCarthy and 88-year-old Stephen Straus.

Nine people, ranging from 14 to 70, remained hospitalized Tuesday, hospital officials said.

Since the start of the year, the U.S. has seen 15 shootings where four or more people were killed, including the one in Highland Park, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University mass killing database.

Scores of smaller-scale shootings in nearby Chicago also left eight people dead and 60 others wounded over the July 4 weekend.

In 2013, Highland Park officials approved a ban on semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. A local doctor and the Illinois State Rifle Association quickly challenged the liberal suburb’s stance. The legal fight ended at the U.S. Supreme Court’s doorstep in 2015 when justices declined to hear the case and let the suburb’s restrictions remain in place.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some ominous and violent.

In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance.

Federal agents were reviewing Crimo’s online profiles, and a preliminary examination of his internet history indicated that he had researched mass killings and had downloaded multiple photos depicting violent acts, including a beheading, a law enforcement official said.

The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Shapiro, the Highland Park resident who fled the parade with his family, said his 2-year-old son woke up screaming later that night.

“He is too young to understand what happened,” Shapiro said. “But he knows something bad happened.”

(AP)


7 COMMENTS

  1. The problem isn’t just guns. World morality keeps sinking lower and lower. It’s becoming a jungle where animalistic behavior seems to thrive. So if it’s not guns, it’s hatchets, machetes and knives. Violence and lust is just a click away on the (unfiltered) internet. This monster fed himself a diet of violence! Many parents don’t bring up their children anymore; they’re too busy fulfilling their own desires whether careers, entertainment, or the ever-present smartphone that engages them 24/7. So if a child grows up with no moral training in a jungle, expect him to act like an animal.
    Respect of self and others i.e. acting human, is out of style. Just look at the posts on this website, the language people use to rip apart others who don’t agree with them, whether politically or religiously. And this is (supposedly) a “yeshiva world” website!
    Let’s start with fixing ourselves. Let’s view ourselves and others as the tzelem Elokim that we are. Let’s think, speak and act respectfully. Then maybe it will filter down to those around us.

  2. There’s an elephant in the room that no one is talking about.
    In EVERY SINGLE CASE of mass shooting, they have discovered that the shooter was online – participating in forums and discussion boards about mass shootings and researching all things on this horrific topic, long in advance.

    Social media and similar agave created ONLINE COMMUNITIES that foster such activity as possible and admirable, and participation in such conversation encourages and bolsters the criminal’s resolve and help him plan out his horrific crime.

    But of course, freedom of all forms of speech and expression is sacrosanct.
    Guns are said to be the problem. But the fertile breeding ground for such destruction cannot be addressed in any way.

    There’s nothing to do about this, of course.

    But Yiddin – wake up and see what havoc “online communities” are wreaking with humanity!

  3. That’s where red flag laws to take weapons from such people and never allow them to buy again. No buy list, just like no fly list for suspected terrorists

  4. used a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray more than 70 rounds

    Nonsense. An AR-15 is not “high-powered”, and cannot “spray” anything. It’s a normal semi-automatic rifle, i.e. it can only fire one round each time the trigger is squeezed. And its normal caliber is .223; “high caliber” means .30 or higher.

    This person is deliberately using loaded terms to manipulate people.

  5. Tattoo a target zone onto his face and then when the tattoo heals, put him before a firing squad and rid the world of this miscreant.

  6. The shooter was ordered to do so by a higher power. Go-d wanted this to happen. Listen to the voice of g-od. Stop pointing on gun control.

  7. There is no inherent human right to board a commercial flight. So it’s legal for the government to ban suspected terrorists from doing so. But they can’t lock someone up for being a suspected terrorist, because freedom is a fundamental right, and it cannot be taken away without due process of law. Evidence, a fair trial, legal representation, the works. And arming oneself is just as basic a right, protected by the constitution, so it is wrong and unlawful to deprive someone on it just because he’s on some list of suspected terrorists.