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Parade Gunman’s Dad Helped Him Get License To Buy Guns Despite Red Flags

Highland Park, IL – Authorities revealed that the father of the 22-year-old gunman who murdered seven people and wounded more than 30 others at a parade on July 4 sponsored his son for a gun permit even though he’d previously threatened to kill himself and his family.

The Illinois State Police (ISP)said on Tuesday night that the agency had received a “clear and present danger” report on Robert “Bobby” Crimo III in 2019 after the future mass killer threatened his family, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Lake County officials said that Highland Park police visited the Crimo home twice in 2019 after the then-teen had made threats.

But when police asked if he wanted to hurt himself or anyone else, Crimo told them “no,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Police found a large cache of knives in Crimo’s closet and confiscated them, but his father claimed the knives actually belonged to him and Highland Park police returned them to him later the same day.

Authorities said no guns were removed from the home during either of the 2019 incidents, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The state police said that on those occasions, no one in the family wanted to press charges or provided officers with information about the threats he had allegedly made, nor did they give authorities anything else to work with to “take further action” against Crimo.

ISP said that the future killer, who was 19 at the time, didn’t have a firearm owner’s identification card, known as a FOID card, at the time of the 2019 incidents, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

State law requires a resident to be at least 21 years old to apply for the license to purchase a gun in Illinois unless the individual is sponsored by a parent or guardian.

ISP said that the future mass shooter’s father, 58-year-old Robert “Bob” Crimo, Jr., sponsored his son for his early application to obtain an FOID card in December of 2019, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The state police issued the FOID card to Crimo in January of 2020 because “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger to deny the FOID application.”

At the time, the only offense on Crimo’s record was a 2016 ordinance violation for possession of tobacco, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

ISP said Crimo passed four separate background checks in order to buy guns on June 9, 2020, July 18, 2020, July 31, 2020, and Sept. 20, 2021.

Crimo’s father didn’t respond to the Chicago Sun-Times’ request for comment about the FOID card, but his uncle – Paul Crimo – told the newspaper in a text that the state police’s version of what had evolved was a “false statement about [being] sponsored.”

The father and his estranged wife, 48-year-old Denise Pesina, released a joint statement on July 5.

“We are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and this is a terrible tragedy for many families, the victims, the paradegoers, the community, and our own. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to everybody,” the statement read.

The family’s attorney told NewsNation before the statement was released that they hadn’t seen any red flags in their son’s behavior before the parade massacre.

“I don’t think anyone’s ever aware of any red flags that make them think that their son is gonna go out in their own community and start shooting people,” attorney Steve Greenberg said. “Had they seen any signs of it, I think they would have acted. They’re responsible parents.”

Greenberg rejected criticism that Crimo’s parents should have been alarmed when their emotionally-unstable son started buying guns, NewsNation reported.

“I think the bigger issue here is why is a kid able to get a FOID card and then purchase a military assault weapon?” the attorney said. “I think that’s a bigger question that we should be asking ourselves. Not whether the family should have sponsored him to get a FOID card when there were no red flags and it was perfectly lawful.”

“It’s just a tragedy all the way around,” he continued. “Imagine waking up one day and knowing that your loved one goes to a parade and gets killed. Imagine waking up one day and knowing that your child may never get out of jail.”

Crimo’s parents have retained high-profile criminal defense attorney Thomas Durkin to represent their son, the Daily Mail reported.

People who knew the gunman and his family have come forward to say that his parents didn’t appear as interested in their children as they should have been, FOX News reported.

“I remember the parents more than him because they were kind of a problem,” Jeremy Cahnmann, who ran an afterschool Nerf Football program at Lincoln Elementary School that both Crimo boys participated in, said. “There wasn’t a lot of love in that family.”

Cahnmann said the gunman nine or 10 years old when he and his younger brother were enrolled in the program, FOX News reported.

“Every week, the Crimos were the last kids there, and we’d have to call their parents to pick them up,” he recalled.

“The kid was really quiet, really soft-spoken, never made an issue,” according to his former coach.

But Cahnmann said Crimo’s mother was a problem parent, FOX News reported.

“She got into it once with one of the heads of the program, she was yelling,” he said. “It seemed like her kids were a nuisance to her.”

The gunman’s father, with whom he lived in Highland Woods at the time of the shooting, was the owner of now-closed local deli and ran a failed campaign for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, The Washington Post reported.

Neighbors described an unhappy household with an unstable mother and a father who was well-liked in the community but not that involved with his children, FOX News reported.

“The signs were there for a long time,” one neighbor said. “There were always police cars at the house. The parents were arguing, fighting all the time.”

Crimo is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and was expected to appear in court on Wednesday, ABC News reported.

Additional charges against the mass shooter were expected to be filed.

“Crimo preplanned this attack for several weeks,” Lake County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Covelli told reporters. “He brought a high-powered rifle to this parade. He accessed the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder and began opening fire on the innocent Independence Day paradegoers.”

Sources told FOX News that in addition to the AR-15-style rifle the shooter used on July 4, he had also bought a bolt-action rifle, a handgun, and a shotgun.

Chief Deputy Covelli said the gunman may have owned several pistols.

Authorities said the gunman left his weapon at the scene and fled the area as part of the panicked crowd, FOX News reported.

Police said the shooter walked back to his mother’s silver Honda Fit dressed as a woman and then drove away after his killing spree that left seven people dead and more than 30 people wounded.

Chief Deputy Covelli said authorities had found a second rifle in the suspect’s vehicle when he was apprehended in North Chicago hours after the massacre.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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