Father of alleged Highland Park shooter pleads not guilty to charges

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

Defense attorney George Gomez, left, and Robert Crimo Jr. seated at the defense table for Thursday’s hearing at the Lake County courthouse. (AP Photo Nam Y. Huh, Pool)

Robert Crimo Jr., the father of the alleged July 4 Highland Park parade shooter, pleaded not guilty to seven felony counts of reckless homicide in a short Thursday morning hearing. Lake County Circuit Court Judge George Strickland accepted the plea and read the names of the seven victims in the tragedy, aloud in the courtroom.

The Lake County Grand Jury had returned indictments the day before against Crimo Jr., a former Highland Park mayoral candidate, who allegedly sponsored his son’s application for a firearm owner’s identification card in December 2019, while underage. The defendant was arrested in December 2022, and remains free on bond after posting a $50,000 bail amount.

His son, Robert Crimo III, allegedly used the card to purchase semi-automatic weapons in Chicago. They were used in the shooting incident, where seven people were killed and more than 40 others were injured in the attack. He purportedly emptied nearly three 30-round magazine clips of ammunition from a downtown rooftop, at parade goers.

“Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement, “Parents who help their kids get weapons of war are morally and legally responsible when those kids hurt others with those weapons. We presented our evidence to a grand jury and they agreed that the case should move forward.

“We will continue to seek justice for the victims and prosecute those who endanger the community,” he said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart explains the prosecution arguments against Robert Crimo Jr., during Thursday’s hearing. (AP Photo Nam Y. Huh, Pool)

Prosecutors cited an incident in September 2019, when law enforcement personnel were called to the Highwood home of Crimo Jr.’s brother, where Crimo III had threatened to kill his family and himself. Sixteen knives and one Samurai sword were confiscated, although no charges were filed. The son had also threatened to kill himself in April 2019.

Crimo Jr. stated the weapons were his own possessions, when the FOID application was completed. His son received approval for the FOID card in 2020, despite the Illinois State Police claiming that he had passed four background checks, in a press release, two days after the shootings.

The timing and announcement by the Highland Park police department, several months later, of a “clear and present danger report” being issued about the December 2019 incident indicated severe gaps in the application process.

Chicago-based defense attorney George Gomez, representing Crimo Jr., said the charges will be difficult to prosecute, and are “baseless.” The only such case of charges against the parents of a shooter came last year in Michigan, although the involuntary manslaughter charges are to be heard by the state appeals court.

Crimo III was indicted by the county grand jury on 21 charges of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder, and 48 counts of aggravated battery last year, and since last January, had been through an arraignment and two status hearings. Prosecutors had asked for more time to cull evidence during the discovery process, with a return date set for May 9.

The trial of Crimo Jr. will not begin until his son’s discovery stage is completed. If convicted on any of the charges, Crimo Jr. could face three years in prison, or be sentenced to probation.

Crimo Jr. will next appear in court on April 4, for a status hearing. His son remains incarcerated at the Lake County Jail.


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