Police said gunman appeared to shoot randomly and not target any specific group
By Robert Chiarito, Dan Simmons and Mitch Smith
Police officials in suburban Chicago said they had seized dozens of knives and a sword in 2019 from a man who was taken into custody Monday in connection with the deaths of seven people at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois.
Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said officials had seized the knives from Robert E. Crimo III after a family member told officers that he had planned to “kill everyone.”
Crimo was not charged in connection with that incident and, as of late Tuesday afternoon, had not been charged in connection with the attack on the parade. But the details of that seizure, as well as an incident earlier in 2019 in which someone reported to the police that Crimo had attempted suicide, raised questions about how and why Crimo was able to legally purchase several guns in the years since.
Earlier Tuesday, officials said they believed the gunman spent weeks planning the attack and wore women’s clothing during his getaway from a rooftop after firing more than 70 bullets.
The gunman “exited the roof, he dropped his rifle, he blended in with the crowd, and he escaped,” said Covelli, who added that a rapid effort to trace the gun and review video evidence helped investigators identify a person of interest in the case.
Covelli said the suspect had legally purchased the rifle that was used in the attack in the Chicago area. He had another rifle, apparently also bought legally, in the car with him when he was taken into custody Monday evening about 10 miles from the scene of the attack, Covelli said.
More than 30 people were wounded by gunshots Monday morning in Highland Park, a lakefront suburb north of Chicago, officials said. Six died Monday, including one at a hospital, and a seventh died Tuesday. Covelli said that the shooting appeared to have been random, and that there was no indication that the victims had been targeted because of their race or religion.
The shooting came a week and a half after President Joe Biden signed the most significant gun measure to clear Congress in nearly three decades, but it was unclear whether any of the new regulations would have stopped the gunman. He carried out his attack in a state that already has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, but is bordered by states where firearms are much easier to come by.
The attack, a few minutes into the Fourth of July parade, sent police on a sprawling manhunt that forced residents to shelter in place for much of the day, and prompted neighboring cities to cancel their holiday events. About eight hours later, police in North Chicago, Illinois, spotted the car that Crimo, 21, was driving, attempted to pull him over and then took him into custody after a brief chase. (Officials had originally said Crimo was 22 but corrected that Tuesday.)
Even in a country battered from the constancy of mass violence — at grocery stores and elementary schools and on urban street corners — the carnage in Illinois proved shocking. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group, the shooting Monday was the 15th this year in which at least four people were fatally shot in the United States.
Victims ranged in age from 8 to 85, doctors who received the injured at local hospitals said.