A person of interest has been arrested in connection to a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago-area suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, on Monday that killed six people and wounded at least 30 others.
Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said officers spotted 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III less than an hour after he was named a person of interest. A brief police chase occurred before Crimo was finally stopped and arrested without incident.
Officials still need to interview Crimo before they can name him as a suspect in the shooting and pursue charges against him, officials said.
“This person is believed to be responsible for what happened,” Lake County Task Force spokesperson Chris Covelli told reporters, but he added police still “have more work to do” before confirming Crimo’s involvement.
The shooting occurred about 15 minutes after the 10 a.m. start of the quiet suburb’s festive parade, with the shooter taking aim at spectators from a business’ roof with a high-powered rifle, according to police.
Covelli said the shooting was “very random” and “very intentional,” and the suspect was discrete and difficult to see. The rifle has been recovered from the roof and is currently being investigated.
Police did not have a motive for the shooting.
The gunman reached the rooftop via an alley ladder attached to the building that was not secure, officials said.
More than 100 officers spent the afternoon searching for the suspect with the help of the FBI and SWAT teams. Buildings and businesses in the area were cleared, and residents were told to shelter in place.
Over a dozen police officers on Monday surrounded a home listed as an address for Crimo in Highland Park. Some officers held rifles as they fixed their eyes on the home. Police blockaded roads leading to the home in a tree-lined neighborhood near a golf course, allowing only select law enforcement cars through a tight outer perimeter.
Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some ominous and violent.
In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance. A later frame shows a close-up of a chest with blood pouring out and another of police cars arriving as the shooter holds his hands up.
In another video, in which Crimo appears in a classroom wearing a black bicycle helmet, he says he is “like a sleepwalker — I know what I have to do,” then adds, Everything has led up to this. Nothing can stop me, even myself.”
Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, calling himself “a person for the people.”
Twenty-six patients were sent to Highland Park hospital with gunshot injuries, according to Dr. Bringham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for NorthShore University Health Center. Their ages range from eight to 85 years old, he said, and include four or five children. Some are in critical condition, including one child, and 19 have been treated and discharged.
Five of the deceased are adults who died at the scene, while another of unknown age was taken to hospital and died there, according to Lake County coroner Jennifer Banek. Authorities are in the process of notifying their families.
At least one of those killed was a Mexican national, a senior Mexican Foreign Ministry official said on Twitter.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that his “heart breaks for the people of Highland Park, Illinois, who wanted nothing more than to celebrate their country this morning – but instead had their lives change forever.”
“To the injured, and to the loved ones of the victims: Canadians are keeping you in our thoughts,” he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement that he has offered the full support of the federal government to the communities affected and has “surged Federal law enforcement to assist in the urgent search for the shooter.”
Mayor Nancy Rotering said the community was “terrorized by an act of violence that has shaken us to our core.”
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims at this devastating time. On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us,” she said.
The Chicago White Sox went ahead with their game against the Minnesota Twins after talking to Major League Baseball about postponing it. The postgame fireworks show was canceled, and a moment of silence was observed before the first pitch.
“Our hearts are with the Highland Park community,” the White Sox said in a statement.
Highland Park is a tight-knit community of around 30,000 located on the shores of Lake Michigan just north of Chicago. Complete with mansions and lakeside estates, the picturesque American suburb has been featured in movies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and was once the home of NBA star Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bulls. It is nearly 90 per cent white but about a third of the population is Jewish, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Gina Troiani and her son were ready to walk the parade route Monday when she heard a loud sound she thought was fireworks until others said there was a shooter, she told the Associated Press.
“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she said.
“It was just sort of chaos … There were people that got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their wagons, grabbed their kids and started running.”
Video footage shows shots ringing out as the parade was underway with hundreds of attendees.
A U.S. representative for Illinois, Brad Schneider, tweeted that he was at the parade when the shooting began and that he and his team are safe and secure.
The U.S. has contended with a number of mass shootings recently, including one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 21 and another at a supermarket in a predominately Black neighbourhood in Buffalo, NY, that killed 10.
Schneider in his message said that he is committed to making communities safer and “enough is enough,” and Biden added that there is still work to be done.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said Monday that mass shootings have become a “weekly American tradition.”
“This madness must stop.”
The shooting is likely to rekindle the American debate about gun control, and whether stricter measures can prevent ever-more-frequent mass shootings in the country.
After the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings, Congress last month passed its first major federal gun reform in three decades, providing federal funding to states that administer “red flag” laws intended to remove guns from people deemed dangerous.
It does not ban sales of assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines, but does take some steps on background checks by allowing access to information on significant crimes committed by juveniles.
— with files from the Associated Press and Reuters