At his appearance in Lake County Circuit Court on Wednesday, Robert E. “Bobby” Crimo III’s attorneys filed a not guilty plea after a grand jury indicted him on 117 felony charges for the July Fourth mass shooting in Highland Park that left seven people dead and scores of others injured. Judge Victoria Rossetti reminded Crimo, 21, during the hearing about the potential range of punishments he may receive, including natural life in the event that he is found guilty of first-degree murder.
Crimo responded with a distinct voice that he recognized while being manacled at the waist, dressed in dark blue jail scrubs, and wearing a medical mask. Both the prosecution and the defence counsel consented to attend a case management conference on November 1 in court. Authorities said that Crimo, a Highland Park native, scaled a business structure and opened fire on the crowd along the city’s Independence Day parade route with an assault-style rifle more than 80 times before fleeing in the confusion that followed. According to the police, Crimo posed as a lady and dropped the firearm as he ran away.
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Later that day, when driving through North Chicago, a police officer noticed him and made an arrest. According to the police, Crimo drove to the area of Madison, Wisconsin, after the shooting in Highland Park, where he allegedly considered assaulting a different gathering. Robert Crimo Jr. and Denise Pesina, Crimo’s parents, were present in the Waukegan courtroom. They left the courtroom without saying anything, but after the hearing, their attorney George Gomez provided answers.
When questioned why the parents came, Gomez responded, “They wanted to show their support for their son.” Naturally, Bobby Crimo III is still my clients’ son at the end of the day. He remarked, “What happened on July 4 has crushed them. Gomez claimed that the parents had no proof that Crimo could have committed the alleged acts of violence. According to the lawyer, the parents are working closely with law enforcement. At the end of the day, he continued, “the family wants to help the community.”
Clyde Mclemore, the leader of Lake County Black Lives Matter, told Gomez that he thinks Crimo was one of the Proud Boys who harassed him and other demonstrators in Highland Park during a 2020 civil rights march. Gomez, though, claimed he was unaware of any connections between Crimo and the right-wing extremist group Proud Boys.
An aspiring rapper named Crimo released enigmatic and even violent YouTube videos months before the shooting, which analysts have searched for hints about his political philosophies. The interlocking triangle sign seen in the films has been compared by some to a rune used by a Finnish far-right group, although the Southern Poverty Law Center has noted its meaning is uncertain.
Officials in Highland Park, which prohibits the possession of assault-style guns and large-capacity magazines within the municipal borders, are advocating for a similar restriction at the state level as the court processes continue. A bill to that effect is being co-sponsored by many lawmakers, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker supports the idea. In a statement last week, Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said he wanted to “take a balanced and research-driven approach to genuinely improve our laws in Illinois” and that he had established a working committee to address gun safety and reform.
One area that might benefit from consideration is the state’s “red flag” weapons restrictions. The Illinois State Police were notified after Highland Park police looked into a claim that Crimo had threatened individuals at his home. Even though the local police had been worried enough to seize 16 knives, a dagger, and a 24-inch samurai sword from Crimo, a state trooper who read their report concluded that there was insufficient evidence to declare Crimo to be a clear and present danger.