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Parade Shooter Had Second Rifle, Disguised Self in Women’s Clothes to Flee Attack, Police Say

Authorities currently "have no information to suggest" July Fourth shooter was motivated by religion, race, or any other hatred toward a protected status.

The man suspected of killed seven people and wounding 39 after opening fire on the Fourth of July parade Monday in Highland Park, Ill., “pre-planned this attack for several weeks” and wore a disguise of women’s clothing and possibly a long wig in order to escape the scene by blending into the crowd, police said.

Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, of Highwood, Ill., also had a second rifle in his car when he was apprehended by police hours after the parade attack, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief and Public Information Officer Chris Covelli said at a press conference today.

Both that weapon and the rifle dropped at the scene of the attack were legally purchased locally on separate occasions by Crimo, he said, along with three handguns that were recovered at Crimo’s residence.

The mass shooting began at 10:14 a.m. during the parade; Covelli said that the community “has been absolutely terrific” in assisting investigators by turning over both cell phone video and static video from businesses’ cameras. While investigators are still working to construct the timeline, Covelli said the shooter brought a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” to the scene and climbed the fire escape ladder at one of the businesses along the parade route. He fired over 70 rounds during the attack, and the selection of victims “appears to be completely random.”

After dropping the rifle, Covelli said the shooter, dressed in women’s clothing “to conceal facial tattoos” and escape, blended in with the crowd and walked to his mother’s house, where he borrowed her car.

“He wore that in an attempt to conceal himself,” Covelli said of the women’s clothes, adding later that since witnesses described a long-haired shooter “a wig isn’t out of the question.” A photo of Crimo’s arrest shows him clad in a black shirt, red undershirt, and black pants, with at least chin-length hair.

When Crimo went to his mother’s house there was “no indication he provided any information to her.” An alert member of community saw the vehicle and called 911; it was then spotted by a North Chicago police officer, and Crimo was stopped and taken into custody.

Covelli said that “there are no indications there was anyone else involved in this attack” as investigators are still developing leads and “very critical information.”

“At this point we have not developed a motive from him,” he said, stating that as conversations with the suspect continue authorities “have no information to suggest” the shooter was motivated by religion, race, or any other hatred toward a protected status.

Crimo, who posted videos online under the name Awake The Rapper, most recently posted a music video set in an empty classroom, holding an American flag over his shoulder and wearing tactical gear.

Parade Shooter Had Second Rifle, Disguised Self in Women's Clothes to Flee Attack, Police Say Homeland Security Today
Robert Crimo poses with a flag in his “On My Mind” video (YouTube)

Another animated video depicts a school shooter opening fire and then lying in a pool of blood after being confronted by police.

Crimo was also active on other forms of social media, including hosting his own Discord server, and also posted frequently to a message board — including posting a video of a beheading last week — that discussed graphic depictions of murder, suicide and death.

Covelli said police are reviewing the videos and posts. “Those are going to be a part of any investigation,” he said. “We’ll look at them and see what they reveal.”

Asked whether local police received any tips before the shooting from citizens concerned about the content, Covelli said they had not. “We were not made aware of these videos,” he said.

At a press conference later in the afternoon, Covelli revealed that police had two prior contacts with Crimo.

In April 2019, an individual contacted Highland Park police a week after learning that Crimo attempted suicide,” Covelli said. Police responded, spoke with Crimo and his parents, and the matter was being “handled by mental health professionals at that time.”

In September 2019, a family member reported that Crimo said “he was going to kill everyone” and had a collection of knives. Police responded and removed 16 knives, a dagger, and a sword. “At that time, there was no probable cause to arrest,” Covelli said.

He said police are seeking a female witness who, as seen on video, saw Crimo drop an object inside of a red blanket behind the Ross Cosmetics store. “We’ve not been able to identify this witness yet,” Covelli said.

Investigator are also seeking anyone with “firsthand information” about Crimo “that could be relevant” and help investigators.

In an early evening press conference, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said additional charges in the “well-orchestrated and carefully planned crime” should be expected. The “dozens of more charges” will likely include attempted murder, aggravated battery, and more.

“Yesterday’s celebration of our nation was punctured by tragedy, with yet another mass shooting,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement today. “In Highland Park, Illinois, families gathered for a patriotic Fourth of July parade fell victim to gunfire and profound loss. We commend the exceptional work of law enforcement to respond to this violence.”

“The security of our homeland requires more; it requires all of us, together, to address the epidemic of targeted gun violence, including the development and implementation of new community-based models of prevention and intervention,” Mayorkas continued. “The Department of Homeland Security will redouble its work in this critical area and help lead the effort to prevent violence in communities across our country.”

This story was updated at 11 p.m. EST

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, anti-Semitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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