Highland Park, Illinois
The Fourth of July parade shooter’s location – concealed on a rooftop along Highland Park’s Central Avenue – made it hard for law enforcement to figure out immediately where bullets were raining from when he opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, the Illinois city’s police chief said Thursday.
“The noise was bouncing off the buildings. People were pointing in different directions,” Chief Lou Jogmen told CNN of the scene of fear and chaos that left seven people dead and dozens more wounded in yet another mass shooting in America.
In the panicked aftermath, authorities spent nearly eight hours hunting for the shooter, fearing he would resume his killing spree, Jogmen said as he offered fresh details of the carnage and what followed.
“Was it a pause, was it a break?” Jogmen said, referring to questions authorities faced during the frantic search. “Is this person intent on continuing until he ended his life? Is this a person that was looking for an escape?”
Robert E. Crimo III was taken into custody by police at a traffic stop that same day after being tipped off by what they described as “an alert member of the community.” He was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, and more charges are expected, prosecutors have said. He’s being held without bond.
In a voluntary statement, Crimo admitted to authorities he emptied two 30-round magazines before loading his weapon with a third and firing again, Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said Wednesday during a virtual bail hearing.
If convicted, Crimo faces a life sentence in prison.
Meanwhile, the motive remains unclear four days later.
“That’s the first thing people want to know,” Jogmen said. “At this point, I don’t think I can give you a why based on what I’m hearing from my investigators. … We’d love to have that reason out there so people could process (it), but I’m not sure that we’re there yet.”
As investigators work to determine what led up to the shooting, the Highland community continues to grieve those slain and hurt in the attack.
Among the wounded is an 8-year-old boy, who is paralyzed from the waist down after undergoing surgeries in the past few days.
Cooper Roberts attended the parade with his mother Keely and his twin brother Luke, who were also injured during the shooting, family spokesperson Anthony Loizzi said Thursday during a news conference.
Cooper was shot in the chest, and his spinal cord was severed, Loizzi said. He was heavily sedated Thursday and was placed on a ventilator in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery to close his belly area.
“It’s going to be a new normal for him moving forward,” Loizzi said. “It sounds (like) he’ll have significant issues moving forward, especially with walking.”
Luke was hurt by shrapnel, and he was released from the hospital after treatment. Keely Roberts also underwent several surgeries after being shot in the leg and around the foot, Loizzi said.
Meanwhile, a married couple who were injured during the shooting reunited at the hospital after the wife got out of surgery, said Samantha Whitehead, a friend close to the family.
Stephen Kolpack was shot in the leg and released, while his wife Zoe suffered a shattered femur, Whitehead said.
“It was just pure joy, like you could just feel the love,” Whitehead told CNN. “I think you could just feel the relief out of both of them that … they’re gonna be OK. Their kids are gonna be OK. They just really are grateful. It’s like the best-case scenario out of a horrible, horrible situation.”
Whitehead, who described herself as Zoe’s best friend, has set up a GoFundMe to cover the family’s medical expenses.
Those who didn’t survive include Irina and Kevin McCarthy, ages 35 and 37 respectively, who were parents to a 2-year-old boy found alive at the shooting scene.
The other slain victims were Katherine Goldstein, 64, of Highland Park; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park; Stephen Straus, 88, of Highland Park; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico, and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan.
In April 2019, Highland Park police got a call that Crimo had tried to take his own life using a machete, and mental health professionals handled the issue, a police report documenting the incident states.
A few months later, a relative reported in September 2019 that Crimo threatened family members that he would “kill everyone” and had a collection of bladed items in his closet, another police report shows. Police confiscated the collection, and the suspect’s father – Bobby Crimo Jr. – picked it up later that day at the police station.
Following that second report, Highland Park police submitted to the Illinois State Police a “Clear and Present Danger” about what happened, the police report shows.
No arrests were made during that incident because there were no signed complaints against Crimo. Family members were not willing to file additional complaints, the state police said.
Since those incidents, Crimo when buying firearms between June 2020 and September 2021 passed four background checks that included checks of the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, state police said.
He legally bought five firearms, including rifles, pistols and possibly a shotgun, according to Lake County Major Crime Task Force Deputy Chief Chris Covelli.
Crimo’s application for a firearm owner’s identification card, or FOID, was sponsored by his father because his son was under 21. It was not denied because there was “insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger” at the time, state police said.
There is no criminal liability for sponsoring someone’s FOID, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart told CNN on Thursday, adding the office is still going through evidence “in terms of who knew what when.”
“There’s different ways to look at potential criminal liability in this case,” Rinehart said. “There’s not a, per se, violation of law if you vouch for somebody in a FOID card and they end up doing something terrible like this. But, having said that, we are continuing to investigate the case and continuing to explore all options.”
CNN’s calls to Crimo Jr. have not been returned. His attorney, Steve Greenberg, told CNN they would not be making any further public comments, “but the parents will continue to speak with law enforcement and to assist them.”