Highland Park, IL – More details have been released about the 21-year-old gunman who murdered six people and wounded more than 30 others at the Highland Park 4th of July parade on Monday.
The massacre began at about 10 a.m. on July 4 when a gunman opened fire from a rooftop, raining bullets down on parade-goers of all ages who lined the streets, WLS reported.
Many of the people in the crowd initially thought they were hearing fireworks or something else that was an intentional part of the Independence Day celebration.
“I thought it was the navy saluting the flag with rifles but then I saw people running, I picked up my son and started running,” a witness told WLS.
“I ran to one of the buildings, I tried to break glass into get in with my son and I couldn’t break it,” he continued. “It was horrible. When I went back there were a few people shot on the ground… There was no target… it was shooting whoever.”
Law enforcement officials have said that the gunman’s shooting spree appeared to be random and targeted no one in particular, WLS reported.
Another witness said she was almost trampled by the terrified mob trying to flee the area.
“All I thought about was getting my daughter to safety,” Armani Garcia told WLS. “I ran with her, we went to the nearest McDonalds and she lost her shoe along the way. She was scared, all I just wanted was her to be safe.”
“She was in front of Walker Brothers, she was gonna come sit next to us,” Garcia continued. “I’ll have the girls cross over. They never made it across. The parade was going on and that’s when everything happened.”
First responders and medical professional who were in the crowd when the shooting occurred quickly identified themselves and jumped into action when the gunfire stopped, WLS reported.
“We heard the gunfire and then it stopped and multiple people, everybody was jumping into action,” Dr. Wendy Rush recalled. “People identified themselves as physicians, as nurses, anyone who could help, had special skills.”
“In our field as an anesthesiologist, we have very specialized skills managing breathing for people,” Dr. Rush continued. “We are very well trained in CPR and advanced life support and starting IVs and people were just helping all over.”
Lake County Major Crime Task Force Spokesman Christopher Covelli said it appeared that the gunman had opened fire from a rooftop using a “high-powered rifle,” the Associated Press reported.
Police carrying long guns searched the area after the attack and recovered the weapon believed to have been used by the gunman from a nearby rooftop.
Covelli said he didn’t know on which building the rifle had been recovered, the Associated Press reported.
Police identified “a person of interest” in the mass shooting early on Monday evening and took 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III into custody shortly thereafter.
Crimo’s father, with whom he lived, was the owner of now-closed local deli and ran a failed campaign for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, The Washington Post reported.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told FOX News that that the gun Crimo used for his killing spree had been “legally obtained” but didn’t have any details about where he had gotten it.
Rotering said she was shocked by the news Crimo was a suspect because she had been his Cub Scout leader when he was a child.
“It’s one of those things where you step back, and you say ‘What happened?'” the mayor said. “How did somebody become this angry, this hateful to then take it out on innocent people?”
Crimo was known online as “Awake the Rapper” and had posted a number of amateur music videos to YouTube and Spotify, according to The Washington Post.
Some of the videos that the gunman posted appeared to show that he had been planning the massacre on July 4 for months.
The Washington Post reported that Crimo had posted videos that had a computer-drawn image of a figure wearing tactical gear and shooting a rifle, with a person kneeling with their hands raised apparently begging for mercy, and another person lying on the ground.
In another video, Crimo appeared to be wearing a helmet and vest inside a classroom next to an American flag as a voiceover read a disturbing message.
“I need to leave now, I need to just do it. It is my destiny. Everything has led up to this; nothing can stop me, not even myself,” the gunman said in the video.
One of the videos appeared to show Crimo at a rally for former President Donald Trump and he had posted pictures of himself to social media draped in a Trump flag and Make America Great Again (MAGA) gear.
Outraged people online were quick to label the gunman a “Trumper,” but The Washington Post reported that it was unclear from the variety of postings what sort of political leanings the shooter had.