The man who opened fire against a parade Independence Day near Chicago killing at least seven people, had legally bought two high-powered rifles and three other weapons, despite the fact that authorities had to go to his residence twice in 2019 for suicide threats and violent attacks, he reported Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force told a news conference that the suspected shooter, who was arrested Monday night, used a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” to fire more than 70 bullets fired from the top of a commercial building into a crowd gathered to watch the parade in Highland Park, an upscale community of about 30,000 people on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Police said their presence was requested at the suspect’s home in September 2019 after a relative called to say he was threatening to “kill everyone” present. Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said police seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no indication he had any firearms at the time.
The suspect legally purchased the rifle he used in the attack over the past year in Illinois, Covelli said. In all, police said he purchased five firearms, which were recovered from his father’s residence.
Police also responded in April 2019 to an alleged suicide attempt by the detainee, Covelli said.
It is not known at this time if suspect Robert E. Crimo III’s prior contacts with police would have prevented him from obtaining an Illinois gun permit. State police, which are responsible for issuing the licenses, did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press about his eligibility.
A day after the shooting, authorities reported the death of a seventh victim. More than 30 people were injured during the attack, which Covelli said was planned by the suspect for several weeks.
Investigators who questioned the suspect and reviewed his social media posts have not determined a reason for the attack or found any indication that it was motivated by racial, religious or other hatred, Covelli added.
This afternoon, the Lake County District Attorney filed 7 murder charges against Crimo. In addition, it is expected that in the coming days more charges will be added for the injured.
FBI agents were rummaging through dumpsters and under picnic sheets Tuesday to find more evidence at the attack site. At first, people mistook the shots for fireworks before hundreds of attendees fled in terror.
A day later, within the wide perimeter established by the police, ordinary artifacts such as baby strollers and lawn chairs remained, abandoned by fleeing terrified neighbors. Some people were approaching the perimeter to collect some of their belongings.
One of the attendees, David Shapiro, 47, said the volley of gunfire quickly turned the parade into “chaos.”
“People didn’t immediately know where the shots were coming from, if the gunman was in front of you or behind you, chasing you,” he said Tuesday as he retrieved a baby stroller and lawn chairs.
Monday’s shooting joined a series of incidents that have upended the rituals of American life. In recent months, schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have become the scene of massacres. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find reasons to celebrate its founding and the ties that still hold it together.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 15 shootings in the United States that have killed four or more people, including the one in Highland Park, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Massacre Database.
“It definitely hurts the most not only when it’s in your town, but when it’s happening right in front of you,” said Ron Tuazon, a resident who returned to the parade route to retrieve his chairs, sheets and a child’s bike that the family left abandoned when the shooting began.
“It has become a common thing,” Tuazon added. “We no longer blink. It will be more of the same until the laws change.”
A police officer stopped Crimo north of the shooting scene several hours after police released his photo and warned that he was possibly armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.
Authorities said Crimo is 21 or 22 years old. His father ran for mayor of Highland Park in 2019.
The shooting occurred at a point on the parade route where many of the residents had set aside places with a good view of the parade hours before.
One of them was Nicolás Toledo, a Mexican who was visiting his family in Illinois. He was shot and died at the scene, his granddaughter Xochil Toledo told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police have not released details about the victims, but Toledo’s granddaughter told the Sun-Times that her grandfather spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico. Xochil Toledo said that she remembers that she was seeing her grandfather, who is over 70 years old, while a gang passed in front of them.
“I was very happy,” he recounted. “Happy to just enjoy the moment.”
Xochil Toledo said her father tried to protect her grandfather and was shot in the arm. Xochil Toledo’s boyfriend was also shot in the back and taken to hospital.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.