HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – The man charged with shooting seven people to death and wounding dozens at a Fourth of July parade has confessed to the rampage and considered another attack in Wisconsin, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said Robert E. Crimo III voluntarily admitted to the shooting to police when he was arrested several hours after the attack.
"He went into details about what he had done," Rinehart said.
No motive has been revealed. Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said that after the shooting Crimo drove to Madison, Wisconsin, about 150 miles northwest of Highland Park, and encountered another holiday event.
"He seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting," Covelli said. But Crimo apparently decided against it because he had not prepared for it, Covelli said. Crimo instead returned to Illinois, where he was captured.
►Rinehart said he expects to file an attempted murder count against the suspect for each person who was wounded and additional counts for people who might not have been hit. Covelli said that some of the dozens of people wounded in Highland Park were in critical condition and that the death toll could rise.
►A judge ordered the suspect held without bail Wednesday on seven counts of first-degree murder. At the hearing, prosecutors said police found the shells of 83 bullets and three ammunition magazines on the rooftop from which authorities say Crimo opened fire.
►Crimo wore a black long-sleeve shirt as he appeared in court Wednesday by video. He showed little emotion as the prosecutor described the shooting and said little besides telling the judge he did not have a lawyer.
►Police in Richmond, Virginia, said Wednesday that they thwarted a planned July Fourth mass shooting after receiving a tip that led to arrests and seizure of multiple guns.
►Vice President Kamala Harris visited Highland Park late Tuesday. "The whole nation should understand and have a level of empathy to understand that this can happen anywhere, in any peace-loving community," she said. "And we should stand together."
Suspect legally purchased gun despite run-ins with police
Crimo legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois despite ominous run-ins with police in 2019. In September 2019, police say, Crimo threatened "to kill everyone'' in his family's house, and police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword. Covelli said there was no sign he had any guns at the time. Five months earlier, police had responded to a reported suicide attempt.
In September 2019, Illinois State Police received a Clear and Present Danger report on Crimo from the Highland Park Police Department. But state police say no arrests were made, no family members were willing to move forward on a complaint, and no firearms restraining order was filed. State police, who issue gun owners’ licenses, said in a statement this week that the suspect applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19 – a minor for the purposes of the license – so his father sponsored the application.
Crimo passed four background checks in 2020, so “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger” and deny the application, state police said in the statement.
How police caught the Highland Park shooter
The shooting prompted a massive manhunt involving hundreds of federal, state and local authorities. The gunman initially evaded capture in the minutes after the carnage by dressing in women's clothing and blending into the panicked crowd, Covelli said.
Authorities traced the gun left at the scene to the suspect and released his photo with the warning that he could be armed and dangerous. Covelli said the suspect walked to a family home before driving away. A neighbor later saw him in the vehicle and called 911. A few hours after the shooting, a police officer pulled over Crimo a few miles north of the shooting scene and he was taken into custody without incident, Covelli said.
What gun did the suspect use?
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said in court that the gunman, stationed on the roof of a building, “looked down his sights, aimed” and fired at people across the street. He left the shells of 83 bullets and three ammunition magazines on the rooftop.
Dillon said Crimo was spotted running from the scene with a black bag over his shoulder, and an object wrapped in cloth fell out of the bag and onto the pavement. The object was a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle, Dillon said. A second weapon, also purchased legally by Crimo, was found in the car when he was caught, police said.
The Smith and Wesson M&P 15 is regarded as similar to the AR-15, often used in mass killings, and the company describes it "as easy to accessorize, but hard to put down.''
Under Illinois law, gun purchases can be denied to people convicted of felonies, addicted to narcotics or those determined to be “mental defectives” and capable of harming themselves or others.
The suicide call in 2019 might have been enough to keep the suspect from getting a weapon. But under the law, “mental defective” must be decided by “a court, board, commission or other legal authority.”
The state has a so-called red flag law designed to stop dangerous people before they kill, but it requires family members, relatives, roommates or police to ask a judge to order guns seized.
Seven victims have been identified
The gunman's rampage claimed its seventh victim, whose identity was revealed Wednesday by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan, Illinois.
The identities of the other six victims were released Tuesday. Five of them lived in Highland Park. The exception was Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, who hailed from Morelos, Mexico. The others who died Monday were Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; and Stephen Straus, 88.
More than three dozen other people were wounded in the attack.
– Cady Stanton, Christine Fernando and Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
Music festival other events canceled in Highland Park
Highland Park officials canceled summer events through next week, including World Music Fest set for July 16.
"This summer, the city has celebrated the return of traditional and new events after two years of pandemic-related cancellations," officials said in a Facebook post. "The devastating attack at the city’s Fourth of July Parade was a horrific, heartbreaking incident for a close-knit community that values connections between neighbors and treasures opportunities to gather together. The city extends its deepest condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims."
GoFundMe raises $2 million for orphaned 2-year-old boy
After gunfire rang out during a mass shooting that killed seven people Monday in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, a 2-year-old boy wandered the street, bloody and alone. Over the course of the day, strangers found him and mobilized the community to find Aiden McCarthy's family as neighbors shared his photo across social media with pleas to help identify him.
"The North Shore community rallied to help a boy who we knew nothing about,'' said a verified GoFundMe page organized for him that has raised more than $2 million. "We took him to safety under tragic circumstances, came together to locate his grandparents, and prayed for the safety of his family." Read more here.
– Christine Fernando, USA TODAY
Pursuit of American dream: 'It's not safe anymore'
Benny Martinez watched in horror from her lawn as screaming paradegoers came streaming down the hill, fleeing a gunman who opened fire on her beloved town. Her coworker Olivia Rodriguez was at work and watching the parade when she heard shots from what sounded like a "powerful gun," she said.
The two women told USA TODAY they each moved from Mexico to the United States more than two decades ago in pursuit of the American dream. Hours after a man fired into the parade crowd from a rooftop, killing seven people and injuring more than 30, they reflected on their experience – and what it means to live in America today.
"I worry about my kids," Martinez said Tuesday. "It's not safe anymore."
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Highland Park shooting live update: Suspect confessed, prosecutors say