July 4 suspect charged with seven counts of first-degree murder

Accused shooter charged

The man suspected in the Fourth of July mass shooting in a Chicago suburb has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, but officials expect there will be dozens more.

If convicted of the murders of seven people, Robert E. Crimo III will be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Lake County State Attorney Eric Rinehart says he will ask a judge to hold Crimo without bail at an appearance tomorrow.

Rinehart calls the attack that also injured 38 other people premeditated, and says future charges will likely include attempted murder and aggravated battery.

Rinehart says more must be done to prevent attacks like this in the future, including banning assault weapons "in Illinois and beyond."

Earlier today, police revealed they visited the suspect's home twice in 2019, including after one report that Crimo told a family member he planned to "kill everyone."

A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force told a news conference Tuesday that police in Highland Park, Ill., first responded to Crimo’s home in April 2019 after an individual reported that he had attempted suicide a week earlier.

Police spoke with Crimo’s parents and the matter was dealt with by mental-health professionals as there wasn’t any law-enforcement action to be taken at that time, said Christopher Covelli.

The next interaction happened in September of that year, when a family member reported that Crimo said he was going to "kill everyone," and that he had a collection of knives.

Covelli said police responded to his home, where they removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but there was no probable cause to arrest and no complaints were signed.

The Highland Park Police Department did immediately notify the Illinois State Police about the incident, he said.

Pressed by reporters on whether the September 2019 incident was an opportunity to intervene and potentially prevent the shooting on Monday, Covelli said there was little more police could have done.

“Police can’t make an arrest unless there is probable cause to make an arrest or somebody is willing to sign complaints regarding an arrest,” he said. “Absent of those things, police don’t have the power to detain somebody.”

Covelli said Crimo legally purchased five guns, including the rifle used in the attack and one found in a vehicle with him when he was arrested, as well as handguns and other firearms seized at his father’s home Monday.

Though Covelli didn’t know exactly when the guns were bought, he said it was after the incident in September 2019.

Authorities also on Tuesday released the identities of six of the seven victims: Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; and Stephen Straus, 88, all from Highland Park; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Mexico.

The violence at the Independence Day parade is the latest to erupt in the United States, just six weeks after a deadly elementary school rampage in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 children and two teachers.

The confluence of America's birthday and a worsening epidemic of gun violence is sure to conjure a familiar brew of hurt, helplessness and outrage.

Covelli said the community in Highland Park has been very helpful in providing information to law enforcement, but based on video surveillance, police believe a woman saw Crimo drop his rifle inside a red blanket immediately following the shooting.

He urged that witness to come forward and speak with investigators, as well as anyone else with relevant firsthand information.

He added that the state’s attorney’s office would hold a news conference at 5:30 p.m. local time and charges are expected to be announced at that time.

Covelli told an earlier news conference on Tuesday that the suspect planned the attack for several weeks and wore women's clothing to conceal his facial tattoos and to blend into the crowd as he fled the scene.

He said the suspect brought a legally purchased high-power rifle to the parade, climbed onto the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder and fired more than 70 rounds at people gathered at the Independence Day celebration.

Video clips posted to social media showed the festivities collapsing into panic as revellers realized they were under fire and scrambled for cover.

After the attack, police said Crimo dropped his rifle and escaped, blending into the crowd as if he were an "innocent spectator" and walking to his mother's house, where he borrowed her car.

Police put out an alert with information about Crimo and the vehicle, and a member of the public who spotted the vehicle dialed 911 and officers were able to apprehend him.

Covelli said a second rifle was located in the vehicle, also purchased by Crimo, and the suspect remains in custody. An update on charges is expected later today.

The officer added there is no indication that anyone else was involved in the attack and a motive has not been determined. Police have no information that it was religiously or racially motivated, Covelli said, adding it appears to be "completely random."

Covelli also said Crimo is actually 21, not 22 as previously reported, and is a resident of Highwood, Ill., near Highland Park.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told CNN that she was once the alleged gunman's Cub Scout pack leader.

"Many years ago, he was just a little boy, a quiet little boy that I knew," Rotering said. "It breaks my heart. It absolutely breaks my heart."

A statement from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas described a "celebration of our nation punctured by tragedy," and commended the efforts of local law enforcement.

"The security of our homeland requires more; It requires all of us, together, to address the epidemic of targeted gun violence" with new community-based prevention and intervention strategies.

In a tweet late Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered condolences to the victims, their families and the Highland Park community.

They "wanted nothing more than to celebrate their country … but instead had their lives change forever," Trudeau tweeted.

"To the injured, and to the loved ones of the victims: Canadians are keeping you in our thoughts."

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