HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. –
The gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds from an AR-15-style weapon that killed at least seven people, then evaded initial capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the crowd. fleeing, police said 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 shoot bullets from the top of a commercial building into a crowd. who had gathered for the parade in Highland Park, a tight-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan that has long attracted the rich and sometimes famous.
More than 30 people were injured in the attack, including one who died on Tuesday, task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said.
Investigators who questioned the suspect and reviewed his social media posts did not determine a motive for the attack or find any indication that he targeted anyone based on race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said.
The shooter spent several weeks planning the assault, Covelli said.
Authorities have not filed criminal charges.
Earlier in the day, FBI agents looked inside trash cans and under picnic blankets as they searched for more evidence at the site where the shooter opened fire. The shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of revelers fled in terror.
A day later, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked parade-goers remained within a wide police perimeter. Outside the police tape, some neighbors came to collect blankets and chairs that had been abandoned.
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 stroller and lawn chairs.
The shooting was just the latest to break the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores, and now community parades have become killing fields in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find reasons to celebrate its founding and the ties that still hold it together.
“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not only your hometown, but it’s right in front of you,” resident Ron Tuazon said as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday night to retrieve chairs, blankets and a children’s bicycle that his family abandoned when the shooting began.
“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said. “We don’t blink anymore. Until the laws change, it will be more of the same.”
A police officer stopped Robert E. Crimo III north of the scene of the shooting several hours after police released his photo and warned he was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.
Authorities initially said Crimo, whose father once ran for mayor of Highland Park, was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo’s social media said he was 21.
The shooting occurred at a location on the parade route where many residents had staked out vantage points earlier in the day.
Among them was Nicolás Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico. He was shot and died at the scene, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Also dead was Jacki Sundheim, a longtime congregation member and “beloved” staff member of nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, which announced her death on her website.
Police have not released details about the victims, but Toledo’s granddaughter told the Sun-Times that Toledo had spent most of her life in Morelos, Mexico. Xochil Toledo said she remembers looking at his grandfather, who was in his 70s, when a gang walked past them.
“I was so happy,” he said. “Happy to live in the moment.”
Xochil Toledo said her father tried to protect her grandfather and was shot in the arm. His boyfriend was also shot in the back and he was taken to a hospital.
Sundheim had spent decades on the staff of North Shore Congregation Israel, teaching in the congregation’s preschool and later coordinating events, “all with tireless dedication,” the congregation said in its statement announcing his death.
“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” the statement said.
NorthShore University Health System said it treated 39 people at four of its hospitals after the shooting. Nine people, ages 14 to 70, remain hospitalized Tuesday. One patient, a 69-year-old man, was in critical condition from a gunshot wound.
Since the beginning of the year, the US has seen 15 shootings that have killed four or more people, including the one in Highland Park, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Murder Database.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill said the gunman apparently fired from a roof where it was “very difficult to see.” He said the rifle was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.
Covelli said Crimo legally purchased the gun in Illinois last year.
In 2013, Highland Park officials approved a ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines larger than 10 rounds. A local doctor and the Illinois State Rifle Association quickly challenged the liberal suburb’s stance. The legal fight ended at the door of the US Supreme Court in 2015 when justices refused to hear the case and allowed the suburb’s restrictions to remain in place.
Crimo, who goes by Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting dozens of videos and songs, some sinister and violent, to social media.
In an animated video taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in the dark” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground, and another figure with hands up in the distance.
Federal agents were reviewing Crimo’s online profiles, and a preliminary examination of his Internet history indicated that he had investigated mass murders and downloaded multiple photos depicting violent acts, including a beheading, a law enforcement official said.
The official was unable to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, sought the mayor’s office in 2019, calling himself “a person for the people.”
The community of about 30,000 on Chicago’s affluent North Shore has mansions and sprawling lakeside estates and was once home to NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Shapiro, the Highland Park resident who fled the parade with his family, said his 2-year-old son woke up screaming later that night.
“He’s too young to understand what happened. But he knows something bad happened,” Shapiro said. “That’s creepy.”
Foody reported from Chicago. Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Associated Press writers Martha Irvine and Mike Householder in Highland Park; Mike Balsamo and Bernard Condon in New York; David Koenig in Dallas; Jeff Martin in Woodstock, Ga.; Fabiola Sánchez in Monterrey, Mexico; and Jim Mustian in New Orleans contributed.