The man accused of murdering seven spectators in a mass shooting at a July 4 celebration in Highland Park has appeared in court for the first time as a chilling new photo has been released by authorities.
Robert Crimo appeared for a bail hearing in the 19th Circuit Court in Lake County, Illinois on Wednesday morning via Zoom wearing a black t-shirt and his long dark hair hanging around his face as he stared at the camera .
The hearing took a brief break as there was confusion over whether the alleged mass murderer had a lawyer or not.
Mr. Crimo told the judge that he did not have a lawyer and that he had had time to speak privately with a court-appointed lawyer.
Upon their return to the hearing, the public defender indicated that he was in contact with lawyer Thomas Durkin who announced on Tuesday that he had been hired by Mr. Crimo’s family to represent him.
Meanwhile, Mr Crimo’s parents have hired a top solicitor who previously worked with R Kelly to represent themselves as they released a statement saying it was a ‘terrible tragedy’ .
The 21-year-old was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday – just over 24 hours after he allegedly opened fire on parade-goers, local residents and families with young children.
If convicted of the charges, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said this is just the first “of many charges” he plans to bring against the suspected mass murderer in the coming days.
“I want to emphasize this: there will be more charges. We anticipate dozens more charges centered on each of the victims,” he said.
Other charges are expected to include attempted murder, aggravated battery and aggravated discharge, he said.
Investigators said Tuesday that Mr. Crimo had planned the attack at the July 4 parade for “several weeks” and had amassed a treasure trove of around five guns.
Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Crimo, dressed in women’s clothing and armed with an AR-15-style rifle, walked to the parade route in Highland Park and scaled the roof of a nearby business.
From a rooftop sniper position, he then unleashed a hail of more than 70 bullets into the crowd of parade spectators and participants below, officials said.
Mr. Crimo then abandoned the gun at the scene and managed to escape undetected by dressing in women’s clothing and a wig.
Hiding in plain sight among the panicked fleeing protesters, the suspect reportedly walked calmly to his mother’s house.
He was arrested hours later when he was spotted driving along a highway in his mother’s car.
Sergeant Covelli revealed that the alleged shooter traveled across state lines to Madison, Wisconsin in his mother’s vehicle before returning to Illinois where he was arrested just five miles from the place of the massacre.
It is unclear why he returned to Illinois around this time.
At the time of his arrest, he was armed with a second high-powered rifle in his vehicle.
In addition to these two high-powered rifles, a search of his home also uncovered at least three other firearms, including pistols.
The motive for the attack is still unknown.
The parents of Mr. Crimo broke their silence on Tuesday evening in a statement in which they offered “thoughts and prayers” to the victims of the attack which left at least seven people dead and dozens injured.
“We are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and this is a terrible tragedy for many families, the victims, the protesters, the community and ours,” Bob and Denise Crimo said in a statement. through their attorney Steve Greenberg.
“Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to everyone,” they said, asking for privacy “as they try to sort out” the shooting.
The statement came after it emerged Mr Crimo’s father – who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Highland Park against current mayor Nancy Rotering – had sponsored his son’s application for his first license gunshot just three months after the 20-year-old threatened to kill his family.
Officials revealed at a Tuesday afternoon news conference that law enforcement was called to his home for two incidents involving the suspect in 2019.
In April 2019, Highland Park Police were called to the home to a report that Mr Crimo had attempted to kill himself around a week earlier.
Officers responded to the address and spoke to Mr. Crimo and his parents, before referring the incident to mental health professionals.
“The case was then being handled by mental health professionals. There was no enforcement action to take. It was a mental health issue handled by these professionals,” Sgt Covelli said.
Five months later – in September 2019 – police were called to a report from a family member that Mr Crimo had sworn to “kill everyone” inside the house with a “collection of knives”.
Officers attended the scene and found that Mr. Crimo had 16 knives, a dagger and a sword.
The knives were confiscated but officers did not arrest the suspect as no complaint was filed by the alleged victims.
But Mr. Crimo’s father later said the knives belonged to him and had been returned to them.
Just three months after family members reported their son allegedly threatening to kill them, Mr Crimo applied for his first gun owner identification (FOID) card.
Because he was under 21 at the time, his father sponsored the application and it was approved a month later in January 2020.
Since then, he has legally purchased at least four other firearms in the state of Illinois.
Officials are now facing questions about how he was able to legally obtain multiple firearms given his prior interactions with law enforcement and his disturbing online presence.
It has since emerged that Mr Crimo posted several disturbing videos and posts online glorifying the violence, guns and mass shootings ahead of the attack.
Six of the seven victims killed in the attack have now been identified, with officials confirming the seventh succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday afternoon.
The six identified victims are: Katherine Goldstein, 64 from Highland Park, Irina McCarthy, 35 from Highland Park, Kevin McCarthy, 37 from Highland Park, Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63 from Highland Park, Stephen Straus, 88 from Highland Park and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78 from Morelos, Mexico.
It is not known whether the seventh victim is an adult or a child.
Irina and Kevin McCarthy were a married couple and the parents of a two-year-old boy, Aiden, who will now have to grow up without his parents.
The boy was separated from his parents in the chaos and cared for by strangers until authorities could reunite him with his grandparents.
A GoFundMe set up to raise money for the baby boy speaks of Aiden’s “unthinkable position” as he now has to “navigate life as an orphan”.
Nicholas Toledo, a 78-year-old grandfather and father of dual American and Mexican citizenship, was using a wheelchair and was sitting in it watching the parade when he was hit by bullets.
Mr. Toledo’s granddaughter told the New York Times they were “all in shock” and revealed that his grandfather had not wanted to go to the parade but had only agreed to go so he could join in the festivities with his family.
Jacki Sundheim is remembered by the local North Shore Congregation Israel synagogue as a “lifetime” devotee and a “cherished” staff member whose “work, kindness and warmth touched us all.” She leaves behind a husband and a daughter.
Katherine Goldstein, known as Katie, was shot and killed during the parade in Highland Park as she and her daughter Cassie Goldstein desperately fled the gunfire.
Cassie Goldstein told NBC Nightly News they enjoyed the 4th of July weekend together as mother and daughter after the 64-year-old recently lost her own mother.
When gunfire rang out, mother and daughter fled side by side, but her mother was hit in the chest by a bullet and fell.
“I knew she was dead,” Ms Goldstein said.
“I just told him I loved him but I couldn’t stop because he kept shooting everyone next to me. So I just kept running and hid behind a trash can.
In addition to those who died, officials said more than 30 people were also injured in the attack.
The massacre has once again renewed calls for tougher gun control measures following a series of mass shootings that have torn families and communities across the country apart.
In May, 21 students and teachers were murdered in a shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and 10 black people were shot in a racist attack in Buffalo, New York.
President Joe Biden lowered the flags at half mast on Tuesday in honor of the Highland Park victims and said it showed there was “a lot more work to do” to address gun violence in the United States.