Police say a 21-year-old man planned the Highland Park mass shooting for weeks and dressed as a woman when he fired more than 70 rounds into the parade crowd, killing six people and injuring dozens.
Robert E. Crimo III, 21, of Highwood, who was named as a person of interest in the case, was arrested in Lake Forest around 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force Spokesman Christopher Covelli said Tuesday that Crimo pre-planned the attack for several weeks.
Crimo allegedly brought a high-powered rifle to the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.
Covelli said that Crimo used a fire escape ladder to access the roof of a building on the parade route.
Crimo then allegedly opened fire on parade-goers, killing six people and injuring over 40 people. Over 70 rounds were fired from the rifle.
Crimo, who was dressed as a woman, exited the roof, dropped the rifle and escaped with the fleeing crowd, according to Covelli.
Crimo walked to his mother’s Highland Park home, which is nearby the parade route, and borrowed her silver 2010 Honda Fit, Covelli said.
A person spotted the wanted Honda Fit as traveled southbound on Route 41 in North Chicago around 6:30 p.m. Monday as an intense manhunt was underway.
The person called 911 and a North Chicago police officer who was sitting at Route 41 and Buckley Road in North Chicago spotted Crimo drive past in the vehicle, Covelli and Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.
A short pursuit ensued and it came to an end at Route 41 and Westleigh Road in Lake Forest.
Officers arrested Crimo and located a second rifle in his vehicle. The two rifles recovered were legally purchased by Crimo himself.
Covelli said there are no indications anyone else was involved.
Crimo remains held in custody as of Tuesday morning and has not been charged yet.
Investigators are continuing to work on the case by conducting interviews and reviewing videos, Covelli said.
Highland Park Police Department Commander Chris O’Neill said the shooting occurred around 10:14 a.m. Monday near Second Street and Central Avenue in Highland Park.
An Independence Day parade was in progress on the street when police officers, who were standing by at the event, heard gunfire, O’Neill said.
Police attempted to locate the source of the shooting and found numerous people shot.
A coordinated response with the fire department was initiated and a police perimeter was set up, O’Neill said.
Firearm evidence, including a rifle, was located on a rooftop of a business and secured, he said.
O’Neill said the shooting was a random act of violence.
Covelli said initial indications show the suspect was “discreet” and hard to see on the roof of a business when he opened fire on the crowd using a high-powered rifle.
Numerous attendees who were attending the Fourth of July parade reported hearing gunfire and people began running for safety. Some people said the shots sounded like fireworks.
Some attendees said the gunman was on the roof of Uncle Dan’s Camping and Travel, 621 Central Avenue.
Five victims died at the scene and the sixth deceased victim died at a hospital, Covelli said, adding it is a “very sad day.”
The Lake County Coroner’s Office is working to identify the deceased victims, whose ages were not immediately known.
The five who died at the scene were all adults, Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said. The age of the sixth victim who died at the hospital was not known.
Covelli said hospitals throughout Lake and Cook counties received patients from the incident, with conditions ranging from critical to serious.
NorthShore University HealthSystem initially said 26 patients arrived at Highland Park Hospital.
Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage said that in addition to the 26 patients at Highland Park Hospital, six patients were transported to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and seven patients were transported to Evanston Hospital.
NorthShore University HealthSystem Dr. Brigham Temple said that Highland Park Hospital activated “code yellow,” which means mass casualty event, after receiving notification of the shooting Monday morning.
Within a short amount of time, numerous ambulances began showing up at the hospital with patients.
Of the 26 who arrived at Highland Park Hospital, 10 victims were transported by ambulance and 16 others were self-transported to the hospital, Temple said.
25 of the 26 victims at Highland Park Hospital sustained gunshot wounds and had varying conditions.
19 of the 25 gunshot victims had been treated and discharged, Temple said Monday afternoon.
Temple said the ages of the victims at Highland Park Hospital ranged from eight to 85 years old. At least four or five children sustained gunshot wounds.
One of the children was critically injured and underwent surgery. That child was then flown to Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
The injury toll is believed to be over 40. An exact number is expected to be released later Tuesday.
There were a number of “heroic actions” by members of the community, police and paramedics who rushed in immediately following the shooting to provide aid to the injured, Covelli said.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker spoke during a press conference Monday evening where he began by crediting the actions of law enforcement who ran toward the gunshots. “[…] lives were saved because the Highland Park Police courageously protected and served their community.”
Pritzker vowed to residents of Highland Park that the suspect would be brought to justice.
He also said that he spoke with President Joe Biden who pledged all support the White House could provide. “The President agrees with me: This madness must stop,” Pritzker said.
“There are no words for the kind of evil that shows up at a public celebration of freedom, hides on a roof and shoots innocent people with an assault rifle. There are no words I can offer to lessen the pain of those families who will no longer associate the 4th of July with celebration, but instead with grief,” Pritzker said.
“It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague. A day dedicated to freedom has put into stark relief the one freedom we as a nation refuse to uphold – the freedom of our fellow citizens to live without the daily fear of gun violence,” the governor said.
Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart said she was “without words to respond to, yet again, another act of senseless violence, that this time has occurred right here in Lake County.”
“My heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones, the Highland Park community, and its leadership, and to those who responded today and continue to do so, to this horrific event. Lake County and our partnering agencies stand with and beside you through it all to provide the support that is needed,” Hart said.
The Lake County Major Crime Task Force, Highland Park Police Department and FBI are leading the investigation into the incident.
Covelli said “hundreds” of law enforcement officers swarmed the area Monday as a manhunt began for the suspect.
Anyone with information on the shooting or those who have video are urged to contact the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI, police officials said.
Congressman Brad Schneider said he and his campaign team were gathering at the start of the parade when the shooting started.
“My team and I are safe and secure,” Schneider said.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and in touch with the Mayor. Hearing of loss of life and others injured. My condolences to the family and loved ones; my prayers for the injured and for my community; and my commitment to do everything I can to make our children, our towns, our nation safer. Enough is enough!” he added.