The young man charged with seven murders after he opened fire on a crowd during US National Day celebrations in Highland Park near Chicago, considered carrying out another attack as he fled from police in neighboring Wisconsin.
Robert Crimo, 21, told investigators he drove more than 200 miles to Madison, where he “saw more celebrations” and “seriously considered using the gun he had in his vehicle to carry out another attack,” said Christopher Covelli of the Highland Park Police on Wednesday.
This second attack was not planned, unlike the first which had been prepared “for several weeks”, underlined the policeman.
The young man fired a semi-automatic rifle into the crowd on Monday morning from the roof of a business, just as the July 4 parade had just started in Highland Park, an upscale suburb of Chicago, Illinois , killing seven people and injuring more than thirty.
Investigators said he was “dressed as a woman,” wearing a wig and makeup to hide his identity and tattoos. He then dropped his weapon and blended into the mass of fleeing people, before fleeing by car to Madison. But he had turned around and returned to Chicago where he had been arrested.
Questioned by the Highland Park police, he “made a voluntary statement to the investigators by confessing his actions”, said assistant prosecutor Ben Dillon, during an appearance by videoconference in front of a judge.
The latter, Theodore Potkonjak, in view of the charges, refused bail, while the accused, long hair on the back of his neck, remained impassive from his place of detention.
At a subsequent news conference in Waukegan, prosecutor Eric Rinehart declined to speculate on a motive. The police had already dismissed a racist or religious motive on Tuesday, Highland Park having a large Jewish community.
Robert Crimo has so far been charged with seven murders and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. He should be prosecuted on numerous other charges, according to Mr. Rinehart.
He is due to appear before another judge in Waukegan Court on July 28.
Illinois police have explained why the frail-looking young man was legally able to purchase four weapons in 2020, including the rifle used on Monday, despite a history of psychological disorders and threatening behavior. Then aged under 21, he had been sponsored by his father.
Police said in a statement that they had not received a “psychological report” on the shooter, who had attempted suicide in 2019.
Disbelief and resignation
In 2019, the police intervened at the family home after a call warning that he was threatening to “kill everyone”, and seized 16 knives in particular. The shooter’s father then claimed that the knives belonged to him.
He enjoyed modest fame online under his stage name ‘Awake the Rapper’, with some of his songs hinting at the violence within him.
The protagonist of one of these videos, which are now unavailable, shoots people with a rifle, in a cartoon style with rough features, before finding himself lying in a pool of blood, shot dead by the police .
The residents of Highland Park gathered on Tuesday evening in front of a makeshift memorial set up in front of a church in the city.
“We are all devastated,” resident Susanna Calkins told AFP. She says she is immersed in “disbelief, but also resignation: these things happen again and again. And this time, it’s here, it’s ours.
The United States has been facing a spike in gun violence since the COVID-19 pandemic and the country is in shock after a series of shootings, one of which killed 21 people, including 19 children, on 24 May in Texas.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, which includes suicides in its data, nearly 22,600 people have been killed by firearms since the start of the year.