Highland Park, IL – Authorities said on Monday that the accused Highland Park 4th of July parade gunman dressed up in women’s clothing in order to make a getaway from his rooftop perch after he opened fire on the crowd of people below.
Lake County Sheriff’s Officer Chief Deputy Chris Covelli, who is heading up the Major Crime Task Force, 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 that 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III preplanned the attack on the paradegoers for weeks, FOX News reported.
He also said authorities had found a second rifle in the suspect’s vehicle when he was apprehended in North Chicago hours after the massacre.
Authorities said that the gunman purchased the weapons legally from a local seller they have not publicly identified, FOX News reported.
“Crimo preplanned this attack for several weeks,” Chief Deputy Covelli explained on Tuesday. “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.
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, 48-year-old Denise Pesina, 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, 58-year-old Robert “Bob” Crimo II, 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.
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.”
The gunman’s parents had separated prior to the shooting and he was living in nearby Highland Woods with his father and uncle, FOX News reported.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy 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?’” Rotering said. “How did somebody become this angry, this hateful to then take it out on innocent people?”
The gunman 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.