Cops Nab ‘Person of Interest’ in July 4 Massacre at Highland Park Parade

·5 min read
Highland Park Police, Reuters
Highland Park Police, Reuters

After a daylong manhunt, Illinois police have taken in the “person of interest” wanted in connection with a sniper attack at a July 4 parade in Highland Park that killed six people and sent dozens more to the hospital.

Authorities have not said 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III is the suspected gunman, but before he was taken into custody, they said he was armed and dangerous.

They said a North Chicago police officer spotted the car Crimo was believed to be driving after a gunman perched on a rooftop fired a high-powered rifle indiscriminately into families watching the annual parade. He was arrested after a short pursuit in Lake Forest.

Witness Shawn Cotreau said he saw the shooter firing from above.

“I turned around and things were in flames, the tree was getting pelted with bullets and I could see the shooter,” Cotreau told CBS Chicago. “It took people 10 to 15 seconds to realize he was actually shooting.

“He was pointing [the gun] downward toward the center of the street,” he added. “I felt like the gunshots went on for minutes, it just didn’t stop.”

The NorthShore Highland Park Hospital said it treated 26 patients—ages 8 to 85—all but one of whom had gunshot wounds. Nineteen have already been treated and released. Of the rest, one was transferred to Evanston Hospital for neurological surgery.

The name of one victim has been confirmed: the family of Nicolás Toledo, 78, says he was visiting from Mexico and watching the parade from his walker when he was shot in the head.

The FBI has joined the investigation, and police were pleading with those who attended the parade to see if they had photos or video of the shooting area that could provide clues.

“We’re not going to leave any stones unturned,” Covelli said.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Blood pooled at Port Clinton Square in Highland Park, after a shooting at a Fourth of July parade.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times via AP</div>

Blood pooled at Port Clinton Square in Highland Park, after a shooting at a Fourth of July parade.

Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

The parade is a time-honored event in Highland Park, a wealthy North Shore community about 25 miles from downtown Chicago. Before 10 a.m., families began lining Central Avenue.

After the kids’ parade and the dog parades were over, the main event began. The fire trucks at the head of the parade rumbled by, followed by a marching band. That’s when the shots rang out, and at first many in the crowd thought it might be drums or fireworks.

When the realization set in, people grabbed their kids and ran for safety—leaving behind chairs, strollers, blankets, and bags.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Police search the vehicle which Robert E. Crimo III was driving when he was taken into custody after a brief chase.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">WLS-TV/ABC7 via Reuters</div>

Police search the vehicle which Robert E. Crimo III was driving when he was taken into custody after a brief chase.

WLS-TV/ABC7 via Reuters

Witness Miles Zaremski, who has attended dozens of the Highland Park parades over the years, told The Daily Beast he was on the route when he heard pop pop pop pop.

“I thought, maybe it’s a backfire. Then there’s another pop and I said, ‘Oh somebody must be shooting off firecrackers. And then all of a sudden, there were multiple pops.

“And I said, that is nothing other than a rapid-fire, long gun like an AR-15 or something. And indeed it was. And then there was a mass stampede,” he said.

“I started walking up, figuring, oh, maybe I could help or something, which I couldn’t, but I saw blood all over on the sidewalk and street. I saw bloodied bodies, a couple of them at least, and one child that looked lifeless.

“I think if it can happen in our community, obviously it can happen anywhere in this country. And what is even more sickening is it happened on the celebration of our country... We’ve seen mass murders at schools and synagogues and churches and nightclubs... It’s disgusting.”

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Chairs and blankets are left abandoned at the Highland Park parade route.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Jim Vondruska/Getty</div>

Chairs and blankets are left abandoned at the Highland Park parade route.

Jim Vondruska/Getty

A man whose adult daughter was at the parade told The Daily Beast that she was grazed by a bullet to the shoulder while protecting her toddler from the shots hitting people around her.

“We got a call—she was hysterical, saying there was a live shooter and she’d been grazed in the shoulder and she’s covering her daughter. She was barely making sense, and my wife started yelling and crying,” he said, asking not to be named because the shooter was still at large.

“The shooter was right across the street, they were in the line of fire,” he said, adding that his daughter and her child sought shelter in Walker Brothers restaurant but have since returned home.

“She’s still in shock, but the question with the 2-year-old now is ‘Should I take her to day care? Should she go to school? Should we go to the store? Should we let her out of the house?’ A lot of people are asking these questions these days, so you just don’t feel safe anywhere anymore. It’s a very affluent neighborhood, it’s one of the richest neighborhoods in Illinois. It’s insane.

“I have a younger daughter who moved to Colorado. Her boyfriend’s parents live in Highland Park, and his mom’s best friend got hit and died.”

This story has been updated to change Crimo’s age to 21

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