Authorities say the Highland Park suspect confessed to the mass shooting and contemplated committing a second attack in Wisconsin hours later. Federal charges may be filed against him.
Robert E. Crimo III, 21, of Highwood, was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder “for the killing spree that he has unleashed against our community,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart announced Tuesday evening.
Dozens of additional charges centering around each victim, like attempted murder, aggravated battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm, are expected, Rinehart said.
Those are expected to be filed later this month.
“These seven counts of first-degree murder will lead to a mandatory life sentence should he be convicted without the possibility of parole,” Rinehart said.
Crimo appeared in court remotely from the Lake County Jail Wednesday morning.
Crimo said he would not be retaining a lawyer and Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak appointed him a public defender.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said during the bond hearing that the ATF conducted an e-trace of the rifle used in the shooting to track it to Crimo and law enforcement officers familiar with Crimo identified him after reviewing surveillance video.
Crimo confessed to the shooting at the Highland Park Police Department and admitted to dressing up as a woman to disguise himself, Dillon said.
He admitted to “looking down his sights” before opening fire on the crowd.
Crimo said he fired two full 30-round magazines before loading a third 30-round magazine and firing, Dillon said.
83 spent shell casings were recovered at the scene.
Crimo identified himself on surveillance video and the weapon used, Dillon added.
Lake County Assistant Public Defender Gregory Ticsay said Crimo does not have money to post for bond.
As prosecutors detailed the allegations against Crimo in bond court, Crimo remained silent and did not react.
Prosecutors had filed a petition to hold Crimo without bond due to the man’s “threat to the community.”
Potkonjak granted the petition, ordering Crimo held without bond.
Potkonjak scheduled the next court hearing in the case for July 28 for a preliminary hearing.
Police and prosecutors held a press conference Wednesday morning after the bond hearing.
Rinehart said he has been working with U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch throughout the past days to evaluate the information in the case regarding federal charges against Crimo.
FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke Tuesday while in London and said federal charges are possible in the case.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force Spokesman Christopher Covelli said that Crimo contemplated a second attack in the hours after the Highland Park shooting.
Crimo drove to the Madison, Wisconsin area and located a July 4 celebration occurring. He had a second rifle and 60 rounds of ammunition with him at the time.
Crimo decided to not go through with the second attack and dumped his cell phone in Wisconsin, which is being processed by the FBI, Covelli said.
Rinehart, who called the Highland Park shooting a “premeditated” and “calculated” attack, called for a federal assault weapons ban during the Wednesday press conference.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek identified six of the victims killed as Katherine Goldstein, 64, of Highland Park; Irina McCarthy, 35, of Highland Park; Kevin McCarthy, 37, of Highland Park; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park; Stephen Straus, 88, of Highland Park; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico.
The seventh victim in the incident who died at a hospital on Tuesday was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office as Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan.
At a previous press conference, Covelli said that Crimo pre-planned the attack for several weeks.
He allegedly brought a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic 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 seven people and injuring over 40 people, around 10:15 a.m. Monday.
Crimo, who was dressed as a woman, exited the roof, dropped the rifle and escaped with the fleeing crowd, according to Covelli.
He then 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 it 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 along with three other guns seized were legally purchased by Crimo himself.
Covelli said in a follow-up press conference Tuesday afternoon that law enforcement had two prior encounters with Crimo.
One of those occurred in April 2019 when Highland Park police responded to a delayed report from a family member that Crimo attempted suicide.
Officers spoke to Crimo and his parents and determined the matter was being handled by mental health professionals, Covelli said.
The second encounter was in September 2019 when a family member reported Crimo threatened to “kill everyone.”
Police responded and removed 16 knives and other weapons from his residence.
They then notified the Illinois State Police but did not arrest Crimo because there was no probable cause and no criminal complaints were signed, Covelli said.
State police said Tuesday evening that they received the “clear and present danger” report regarding threats Crimo made to his family in September 2019, but no one, including his family, wanted to move forward with a criminal complaint.
The report also stated that police asked Crimo if he felt like harming himself or others and he said no.
Crimo’s father told police the knives were his and they were in Crimo’s closet for storage.
Highland Park police later returned the knives to the father the same day of the incident, said.
They also did not provide information on threats or Crimo’s mental health that would have allowed police to take more action, state police said.
Crimo did not have a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card or a pending application for one at the time.
“Once this determination was made, Illinois State Police involvement with the matter was concluded,” state police said.
Crimo, who was 19 at the time, later applied for a FOID card in December 2019. His father sponsored the application.
When the application was reviewed in January 2020, “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application.”
Crimo passed four background checks when purchasing firearms on June 9, 2020; July 18, 2020; July 31, 2020 and September 20, 2021.
“The only offense included in the individual’s criminal history was an ordinance violation in January 2016 for possession of tobacco,” state police said.
There were no mental health prohibitor reports submitted by healthcare facilities or personnel, state police added.
Covelli said there are no indications anyone else was involved in the Monday shooting.
Investigators will be investigating the case for months to come, Covelli said.
The motive for the shooting is still unknown.