Highland Park shooter denied bond; more charges pending

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

Robert “Bobby” Crimo III

Bond was denied at an arraignment on July 6 for Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, who faces seven counts of first-degree murder and numerous other pending charges. Crimo III, 22, allegedly planned and executed a mass killing in the Highland Park downtown area, during its Fourth of July Parade.

The rampage left seven people dead and more than two dozen injured from gunshot wounds, near the intersection of Central Avenue and 2nd Street, where crowds had gathered to watch the festivities.

In announcing the charges, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said, “This is a trauma that will ripple outside the courtrooms. What should have been a celebration of freedom, ended in despair for our community. All of the people who died … lost their freedom, all of it, every ounce of freedom they had.”

Rinehart said additional charges will be filed.

More than 83 spent shell casings were found on a downtown business’ rooftop, where the shooter was perched, and investigators recovered the high-powered rifle used in the attack. He gained access through an unsecured ladder. Released video surveillance footage allegedly shows Crimo III escaping the scene, dressed as a woman.

The carnage began approximately 10 minutes, after the 10 a.m. parade step-off, as a rapid succession of gunshots erupted.

“I heard gunshots about a block from where we were standing at Green Bay Road and Central, and thought it was fired by the Revolutionary War muskets, until people were running toward us,” said Eric Trotter, a witness. “When things settled down, I walked toward Port Clinton Square and saw the dead bodies. A woman was laying face down, blood on the benches, and pooling on the sidewalk.

A place holder on a ladder to save a seat on Central Avenue. Uniformed personnel is on standby. (Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

“People were giving aid. I’ve never seen a dead body in my life. This isn’t a movie, it’s the real world.”

First responders and emergency medical technicians arrived within minutes. Private practice medical practitioners and residents were attending the injured. They were transported to nearby North Shore Highland Park Hospital. The victims are: Irina and Kevin McCarthy, Jackie Sundheim, Katherine Goldstein, Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, and Stephen Strauss. A seventh victim has not been identified.

State, county, and multiple municipal law enforcement agencies, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, converged on the scene within hours using helicopters, drones, and K-9 units in a sealed downtown perimeter. By late afternoon, the FBI obtained enough digital data to center on a “person of interest.”

The search moved to a residential home in nearby Highwood, owned by Robert Crimo, who was a candidate in the 2019 Highland Park mayoral election, and former convenience store owner.

Crimo III, who lived there with his uncle, was then identified as the “person of interest.” He had taken his mother’s vehicle, a Honda Fit. Some eight hours later, the vehicle was spotted by a North Chicago patrol officer going southbound on Route 41, at Buckley Road. Crimo III was apprehended six miles later at Westleigh Road.

An officer patrols July 4 the downtown streets of Highland Park in wake of a shooter who opened fire during the holiday parade. (. (Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

Weapons were recovered from the vehicle. He later confessed to the crimes at the Highland Park police station. He admitted that after fleeing the area, he drove to Madison, Wisconsin and considered shooting at another mass gathering there.

Crimo III had previous encounters with local law enforcement in 2019. One was a suicide call where multiple knives were confiscated and a threat made “to kill everyone.” His social media accounts also contained graphic depictions of mass murders, use of “darker” chat forums, and videos as “Awake, the rapper.”

He was able to purchase weapons in Chicago through a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card from the Illinois State Police in 2020. He had filed one year earlier, under his father’s sponsorship, who claimed the confiscated knives were actually his property. The state police issued a statement that Crimo III had passed four background checks and there were no “red flags.”

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