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Accused man admitted to shootings in July 4 attack outside Chicago

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Robert Crimo is accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens more on July 4 outside Chicago. Photo: Getty

Robert Crimo is accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens more on July 4 outside Chicago. Photo: Getty

Robert Crimo is accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens more on July 4 outside Chicago. Photo: Getty

The man accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens of others at an Independence Day parade outside Chicago has admitted to authorities that he carried out the shooting.

Robert Crimo, the 21-year-old suspect facing seven counts of first-degree murder, appeared at the bond hearing via a video link from jail, two days after the attack in Highland Park, Illinois. Dressed in black and wearing shoulder-length hair, Crimo was denied bail by Judge Theodore Potkonjak. “He does pose, in fact, a specific and present threat to the community,” the judge said in ordering that Crimo to be held.

Crimo spoke only briefly to confirm that he did not have a lawyer. A public defender was appointed to represent him. Ben Dillon, a county prosecutor, told the court that the suspect had confessed to the attack after he was
apprehended.

There was no plea entered at the hearing. Eric Rinehart, the state’s attorney for Lake County, said more charges were expected against Crimo, whose next court appearance is scheduled for July 28. If convicted on the first-degree murder charges, he would face a mandatory life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

In a news briefing following the bond hearing, Mr Rinehart said authorities questioned the suspect after reading him his legal rights, including the right to an attorney.

“He went into details about what he had done,” Mr Rinehart said. “He admitted to what he had done.”

Highland Park is the most recent American community forced to come to grips with mass gun violence. The bloodshed there was the latest in a string of mass shootings that have renewed debate about US gun violence, including a May 24 attack in which 19 schoolchildren and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas. On May 14, 10 people were slain in a supermarket in a mostly black neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York.

Authorities said on Tuesday that Crimo planned the Illinois attack for weeks. As the annual parade marched through downtown Highland Park, he climbed on to a rooftop from an alley and fired more than 70 rounds at spectators, they said. He made his getaway dressed in women’s clothing and make-up to cover his facial and neck tattoos, officials said.

The suspect was arrested later on Monday when he was stopped by police at the wheel of his mother’s car, which authorities said he had driven to Wisconsin and back to Illinois following the shooting.

After Wednesday’s hearing Sergeant Chris Covelli, a spokesperson for the Lake County Sheriff’s office, said Crimo saw a “celebration” in the city of Madison, Wisconsin, and “seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting”.

A Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle, similar to an AR-15 used in the shooting, was found at the scene in Highland Park, and Crimo had a similar weapon in his mother’s car when arrested, according to county prosecutors.

Police said they had no immediate evidence of any anti-Semitic or racist basis for the attack. Highland Park has a large Jewish community. Investigators were reviewing videos Crimo had posted on social media containing violent imagery.

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Crimo’s parents said in a statement released by their lawyer that they are requesting privacy.

“We are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and this is a terrible tragedy for many families, the victims, the paradegoers, the community, and our own,” they said. “Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to everybody.” 

Crimo legally purchased five guns in all, rifles and pistols, despite having come to law enforcement’s attention on two prior occasions for alleged behaviour suggesting he might harm himself or others, Sergeant Covelli said.

Police had previously seized a collection of 16 knives, a dagger and a sword amassed by Crimo in his home

Crimo slipped past the safeguards of an Illinois “red flag” law designed to prevent people deemed to have violent tendencies from getting guns.


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