Highland Park shooter’s father may be responsible for sponsoring gun license: lawyer

The father of the 21-year-old suspected shooter in the Highland Park mass shooting on Monday could be held criminally responsible for the attack, an expert has said.

This week, police said the man helped his son legally obtain several weapons, including the high-powered shotgun allegedly used in the assault.

“There is no doubt that [the father] could be held criminally liable,” Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Insider. The law can hold you criminally liable.”

A gunman opened fire Monday during a July 4 parade in the northern suburbs of Chicago, killing seven people and injuring dozens more. Authorities arrested a 21-year-old man after a two-hour manhunt and charged him with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday.

Alleged shooter obtained firearms legally despite past encounters with law enforcement

Illinois State Police said on Tuesday the alleged shooter’s father sponsored his son’s gun license application just months after the boy came to the attention of police for allegedly threatened to kill himself and others.

Officers attended the alleged shooter’s home in September 2019 after a concerned family member alerted Highland Park Police that he had threatened to ‘kill everyone’, a spokesperson for the group said Lake County Major Crimes Task Force earlier this week. Authorities removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but did not make an arrest due to a lack of probable cause. Local police alerted Illinois State Police at the time, the spokesperson said.

State authorities received a “clear and current danger report” for the suspected shooter following the September home visit, but determined no action was required as he had not of active firearms license or application in the system at the time.

A few months later, however, in December 2019, the alleged shooter, who was not yet 21, applied for a firearm owner identification (FOID) card. State law required that a parent or guardian consent to his application for a firearms license, given his age. The alleged shooter’s father sponsored his request, state police said.

The suspect’s father confirmed to the New York Post on Wednesday that he sponsored his son’s license application, telling the outlet he believed his son wanted guns to use at the range.

“He bought everything on his own, and they are registered with him,” the father said.

His father’s decision to sponsor the request, even after the boy’s threats prompted a police response, could put him on trial for manslaughter, Rahmani said.

“You create an unreasonable risk of death because of your actions,” the legal expert said. “You don’t have to pull the trigger to be charged with manslaughter.”

The alleged shooter’s request was eventually approved.

A road sign near the site of the Highland Park shootings

Flowers are laid near the scene of a shooting during a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, where at least seven people were killed.

Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

“The subject was under the age of 21 and the request was sponsored by the subject’s father,” Illinois State Police said in a statement released this week. “Therefore, at the time of the review of the FOID request in January 2020, there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID request.”

State authorities also said the alleged shooter had passed four federal background checks when purchasing weapons, citing a report from Highland Park Police on the September 2019 incident in which he said officers that he didn’t want to hurt himself or anyone else.

Steve Greenberg, an attorney who said he was helping the alleged shooter’s parents navigate the legal process following the shooting, posted a Facebook status pointing out that Illinois State Police have renewed the suspect’s FOID card when he turned 21 without any parent involvement. Greenberg later told Insider that his understanding of the renewal process was that someone had to reapply once they turned 21.

The Illinois State Police Office of Firearms Services did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment regarding the renewal process when a sponsored FOID cardholder reaches the 21 years old.

The alleged shooter’s father could not be reached for comment, and Greenberg did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on whether or not he believed the father could be charged in connection with the incident. offensive.

Police said the suspected shooter used a military-style rifle to fire more than 70 rounds in the attack. The weapon was one of five firearms he obtained in 2020 and 2021, authorities said.

Prosecutors take aggressive approach to billing providers

Local prosecutors have not yet indicated whether they plan to charge the father of the suspected shooter in the attack. But Rahmani told Insider he’s noticed a growing trend of similar incidents.

“Prosecutors are much more aggressive in these types of cases – the ones who get guns to mass shooters,” he said, referring to James and Jennifer Crumbley who were charged with manslaughter after allegedly bought a gun for their 15-year-old son who is accused of killing four of his classmates in a shooting in Oxford, Michigan last year.

The Crumbleys are heading to trial and announced last month that they wanted their son to testify on their behalf.

Prosecuting parents of accused mass shooters is a relatively new legal approach, Rahmani said, and the process is likely to be difficult.

“These will be aggressively pursued,” he told Insider.

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