Suspect in Highland Park shooting planned attack for several weeks, authorities say

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CHICAGO — The man suspected of killing at least six people and injuring more than 30 others Monday morning during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park planned the attack for several weeks before he climbed a fire escape ladder and fired on the crowd from the roof of a building, authorities said at a news conference Tuesday.

The alleged shooter, Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, dressed as a woman in order to evade detection, according to Chris Covelli, a spokesman with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. After firing more than 70 rounds, he exited the roof, dropped the rifle, slipped into the crowd and went to his mother’s house, he said.

Covelli said investigators haven’t determined a motive.

No one else appears to have been involved, Covelli said.

The gun that was used in the Highland Park mass shooting was purchased legally in Illinois by Crimo, authorities and Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told the Chicago Tribune.

Details on the original purchase of the weapon came from an expedited trace conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the wake of the shooting. The weapon has been described by authorities as “high powered.”

Covelli also told the Tribune that the FBI is sending in an expert team to reconstruct the shooting, which means items left along the parade route will likely remain for several days.

Authorities continued to investigate Tuesday after a gunman opened fire on a Fourth of July parade in north suburban Highland Park Monday morning, sending crowds of people fleeing from the parade route, leaving behind chairs, blankets, strollers and other remnants from the holiday celebration.

The victims ranged in age from 8 to 85.

Parade attendees described hearing a barrage of bullets while watching floats and marchers traverse down the street. People grabbed children and ran, taking cover in nearby shops. A tuba player recalled watching people running in panic while his band played joyful music.

The attack shuttered much of the North Shore while law enforcement from more than 100 agencies searched for the gunman. Parades and events in nearby towns were canceled while many sheltered in place, leaving quiet streets on the normally jubilant holiday.

Police arrested Crimo Monday evening following an hourslong search. He had previously been described as a “person of interest” in the case by Highland Park police. After a short chase, he was apprehended in North Chicago without incident, authorities said.

Police recovered a rifle at the crime scene.

Crimo posted online videos under the name “The Awake Rapper,” some with chilling references to violence, including one that features footage of a young man in a bedroom and a classroom along with cartoons of a gunman and people being shot.

On Tuesday morning, downtown Highland Park was still littered with items left behind during the shooting, including abandoned lawn chairs and strollers. American flags waved.

Some stunned residents tried to keep to normal routines, while bracing for more news of the dead and injured.

A block away from the parade route, a group of men met for coffee near a Starbucks, where they’ve gathered every morning for 15 years. They had to bring their morning coffee from Dunkin’ because their store remained closed.

”We meet here every day to talk normally about fun stuff. Today is not so fun,” Highland Park resident Andrew Stone said. ”This is such a small community. We’re all going to know someone who was injured.”

The men tried to find out who among the people they knew was shot. A family friend took a bullet to the foot. A woman at the temple had been killed, they found out.

They argued over why it happened here, in the tightknit community they once thought was safe. Across the table, Jim Terman said he had been watching the parade from the block where the shooting happened. He can’t stop thinking about it.

”It just runs through your mind,” he said.