Robert E. Crimo III is an aspiring rapper who is considered a “person of interest” in the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, where his family has deep ties. The 21-year-old man was detained by police several hours after the shooting and taken into custody in nearby Lake Forest, ABC 7 Chicago’s Rob Elgas reported.
Elgas tweeted about 6:45 p.m. local time, “Officers in North Chicago spotted the vehicle he was driving and tried to pull him over. Crimo fled and police were able to eventually get him in custody.” The shooting happened about six miles away in Highland Park at the start of the parade, about 10:15 a.m., officials said.
The rifle Crimo is accused of abandoning at the scene allowed authorities to identify him. He then drove to Madison, Wisconsin, where he contemplated another attack, before returning to Illinois, authorities said in a news conference. Authorities said the suspect was in Madison and adjacent Middleton, Wisconsin. He had been planning the Highland Park attack for weeks, they said.
Crimo also goes by the name Bobby Crimo. A voluminous social media trail for Crimo has emerged showing weaponry and an obsession with mass shootings; in 2019, he shared a random video of President Donald Trump’s motorcade. Crimo, whose music was recorded under the name Awake the Rapper, was also photographed at a Trump rally. Another picture showed him with a Trump flag around his shoulders. That came from a Twitter page he used called @awake.rip.
Crimo, 21, was believed to be driving a 2010 silver Honda Fit, Illinois plate DM80653, authorities said before he was captured. Some of his videos show him in a school setting. This is a screenshot from a video posted on his now-suspended Twitter page.
In a July 4 news conference, Officer Chris O’Neill said the mass shooting was an “active shooter” incident that was random in nature. O’Neill described the suspect as a white male, age 18-20, with “longer black hair, a small build and wearing a white or blue T-shirt.” An AR-15 style firearm was recovered from the scene. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told CNN the gun was legally obtained.
In a news conference on July 5, authorities revealed that Crimo will face seven counts of first-degree murder in addition to other charges. They upped the count of those dead and wounded to a total of 45 victims. Seven died.
The victims were named as: Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacqueline Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88, all of Highland Park, and Nicolas Toledo, 78, of Morelos, Mexico. A 7th victim has not been named.
Authorities also revealed that Crimo fired more than 70 rounds while perched on a roof. Then he fled the scene by dressing as a woman, walked to his mother’s house and took her car, driving to Madison, Wisconsin, before returning to the Chicago area. Police said they don’t believe his mother knew he was going to stage the parade attack.
Authorities also revealed that they had gone to Crimo’s home in 2019, one time for a suicide attempt. Police also were warned by a family member that Crimo had knives and had “threatened to kill everybody,” and they took 16 knives, a sword and dagger from the residence, but his family members did not want to press charges at that time. Police filed a “clear and present danger report” with the Illinois State Police.
Despite that incident, Crimo was issued a FOID card allowing him to purchase firearms. He purchased as many as four of them legally from Chicago-area dealers, authorities said. They said that Crimo bought the gun at age 19, despite the age limit being 21, because his father sponsored him to get the FOID card, which was issued by the stat police.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a news conference that the Illinois state police managed the FOID background review. There was never a firearm restraining order against Crimo before the shooting, according to Rinehart. That is a process through which a family member or someone else could have gone to a court to request that a person not be allowed to possess or purchase firearms. “There were no firearms when they went to the home in 2019,” Rinehart said of police.
Crimo used an AR-15 rifle in the parade attack. Authorities still do not have a motive but believe “Crimo preplanned this attack for several weeks.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Crimo’s Family Has Long Ties to Highland Park; His Father Ran for Mayor & the Current Mayor Was His Cub Scout Leader
Crimo’s uncle told CNN that Crimo lived in an apartment behind his parents’ house after losing his job at Panera during the pandemic. According to Fox News, the current mayor of Highland Park, Nancy Rotering, was Crimo’s Cub Scout leader. He was “just a little boy” then, she told Fox.
Crimo’s father, Bob, is a small-business owner who ran unsuccessfully for Highland Park mayor in 2019. The city is an affluent northern Chicago suburb on Lake Michigan. Crimo’s mother Denise’s LinkedIn page lists her as a “holistic health practitioner.”
In a bio, the elder Crimo described himself as self-employed at Bob’s Pantry & Deli. “This will be my first time in office as a person for the people. Though I have no prior experience in political office, I know the dynamics of Highland Park through my years of experience in business.”
The dad described himself as a “local small business owner. I see how the downtown business district is becoming more distressed as time goes on.” He said, “We need to take a hard look at Highland Park’s many ordinances, rules, and regulations…”
Crimo’s father wrote that he was self-employed since 1990 due to his ownership of the White Hen in Racinia and Bob’s Pantry & Deli in Braeside.”
After his mayoral loss, Crimo’s dad wrote on his Facebook page, “This has been a great experience. I cannot thank my supporters enough. Although the polls weren’t in my favor, I will continue to do my best to further the improvement of Highland Park for my fellow neighbors. Thank you all so much again.”
An obituary for Crimo’s grandfather, Robert “Bob” Crimo Sr. 88, of Highwood, says that the family has long ties to Highland Park.
The first Robert Crimo was described as a great family man “who was always there for his family” and was survived by his son Bob Jr. and five grandchildren, including Bobby Crimo III. Crimo III’s parents Bob Jr. and Denise were listed as living in Highland Park.
Journalists captured the carnage at the parade.
The shooting reports unfolded just before 11 a.m., and Fox News reported that multiple people were “feared dead.”
The scanner audio, available through Broadcastify, captured an officer referring to an “active shooter.” Ambulances were being sent to the scene at “2nd and Central.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that one of its reporters “saw blankets placed over three bloodied bodies. Other people, running, were visibly bloodied.”
2. YouTube Videos Emerged in Which Crimo Refers to Himself as a ‘Sleepwalker…Walking Blindly Into the Night’
YouTube videos emerged that appear to show Crimo. The account was deleted after the mass shooting.
“Like a sleepwalker…I know what I have to do,” the narrator says in one video.
“I know what’s in it. Not only for me but for everyone else… there is no past or future, just the now. It is more abstract than I can ever imagine. I can feel the atmosphere pulling me in. It’s unstoppable….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, even myself. Is there such a thing as free will or has this been planned out…it’s what I was sent here to do. Like a sleepwalker…walking blindly into the night.”
He also had a blog page with flames as the backdrop.
He’d posted this photo that included the thin blue line flag, which supports law enforcement.
He was at the airport when Trump landed.
He also had a manifesto. One man who saw it wrote that “It is 28 pages long and is composed entirely of an undeciphered sequence of numbers. There is a coinciding video to Arcturus on YouTube, which is composed of footage from the music videos to On My Mind, out.of.this.world, and Toy Soldier. The numbers 23, 47, and 115 seem to be of significance in decoding Arcturus, however, Arcturus remains an unsolved mystery.”
Photos emerged that appear to show him in a Pepe the Frog shirt and at a Trump rally. Pepe the Frog is a symbol associated with the alt-right. There is also a picture of Pepe on one of his Twitter pages.
“Active shooter in Highland Park, IL. Avoid Central Ave. My nephew recorded this video,” a person tweeted, sharing the video.
The video showed parade participants walking normally down the street before they started running as a panic ensued.
CBS 2 Digital Producer Elyssa Kaufman “was near the scene when she heard what sounded like gunfire,” according to CBS News.
Other videos also emerged from the scene.
“Everyone was was running, hiding and screaming,” she told the network.
His cell phone was recovered by the FBI in the 6500 block of University Avenue in Middleton, Covelli said.
3. Crimo Was a Fairly Popular Rapper With a Spotify Account
Crimo is an aspiring rapper also known as Awake the Rapper. One song on his Spotify profile has 2 million listens. One of his videos is called “Famous.”
He has an IMDb account, which gives a brief bio. It says:
Bobby Crimo (Born September 20, 2000), known professionally as Awake The Rapper, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor and director from Chicago, IL. The hip hop phenom is mostly known for his hit song On My Mind which was released on October 8, 2018. The track has amassed millions of plays so far across online streaming platforms.
The six foot Hip hop phenom Awake The Rapper was born Robert Eugene Crimo III on September 20, 2000 in Chicago, Il. He’s the middle child of three and of Italian descent.
Bobby began uploading his music to the internet when he was 11. The world first started turning their heads with the release of his 2016 track By The Pond featuring Atlas. Directly Following that Awake released his fan favorite mixtape ‘messages’ on December 23, 2017. The Lo-fi sad boy then went on to release a second mixtape entitled “observer” on August 10, 2018 and an Ep. called ‘The Future Is Dope’ on his 18th birthday. Fast Forward a couple months and Awake releases his hit song ‘On My Mind.’
His most recent songs were added May 13, 2022. “Brainwashed” is the top song, and he also has one called “I Am the Storm.” The profile photo is a cartoon/anime character with a gun. He posted five songs and appears to have had enough of a following that there is a Twitter fan page devoted to him that some people online were confusing with his actual page.
Crimo also has songs called “Dead Again” and “Gameboy,” as well as “Dumb Diddy Dumb.”
It appears Crimo frequently watched videos showing scenes of death.
4. Crimo Said He Thought About Committing a Second Attack in Madison, Wisconsin, Authorities Say
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a news conference that the suspect would be held without bond.
He was questioned in the Highland Park Police Department and gave a detailed statement “about what he had done. He admitted to what he had done,” Rinehart said.
“We don’t want to speculate on motives right now,” added the State’s attorney. Rinehart said that Crimo “emptied one clip” of 30 rounds from the roof of the store. Crimo then reloaded a second clip and emptied that and then reloaded a third time, according to Rinehart.
Chris Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said in the news conference that Crimo drove to Madison, Wisconsin. He was driving around and saw a celebration going on there and “seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting in Madison.”
He had approximately 60 rounds left at that time.
Covelli said Crimo’s motivation was not clear, but he had “some type of affinity to the number 4 and 7, and the inverse was 74.” The attack occurred on 7-4-22.
According to NBC News, Crimo had played the video game “Hitman,” which has a character named Agent 47. Furthermore, some gangs use the number to refer to an AK-47 assault rifle, NBC reported, adding that Crimo had the number tattooed to his face.
Crimo was driving around following the first attack and “saw the celebration,” Covelli said.
“We don’t have information to suggest he drove to Madison initially to plan another attack,” said Covelli. Rather, he was just driving around.
He “hadn’t put enough thought and research into it,” which is why he decided not to attack Madison, according to Covelli.
Covelli wasn’t sure why Crimo decided to come back from Madison, but he disposed of his phone in Middleton, which is near Madison, and it was recovered, said Covelli.
His cell phone was recovered by the FBI in the 6500 block of University Avenue in Middleton, Covelli said.
In 2020, he bought four weapons, including the weapon used in the attack. In 2021, he purchased another weapon, which was after his 21st birthday.
Covelli did not want to say whether Crimo’s father was cooperating with the investigation.
In 2019, Highland Park notified the state police about the knives Crimo possessed.
Covelli did not want to speak to the State Police’s procedure.
The rifle was recovered on the ground. He dropped it. Police are still looking to talk to a witness who saw Crimo drop an object in a red blanket, according to Covelli.
“All of the shooting was done on the roof,” he said.
He had a Kel-Tec sub-2000 weapon in Madison, Covelli said.
Scanner audio reports said the shooter was “male with large yellow army style backpack.” On the scanner, police described a gunshot victim who was shot in the leg.
A motive for the shooting is not yet clear.
Police said on the scanner that they were checking the basement of Sunset Foods at one point.
A witness told the Sun-Times that they heard more than 20 shots. The newspaper reported that at least five bloodied people were seen.
The mass shooting came as the nation continued to reel from mass shootings in places like a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
5. ‘Just Do It,’ Read a Tweet on Crimo’s Page
The profile reads, “This account has been seized by the ARDT.”
Photos and eyewitness accounts from the scene showed a massive law enforcement response and an “abandoned parade route.”
“Responders still arriving amidst backdrop of abandoned parade route in Highland Park Il. No information about nature of incident which apparently took place in/near Central business district,” tweeted Sonny Cohen.
“Mass Shooting (Highland Park) Emergency crews on scene of a shooting with numerous victims near Central Ave and Second St in downtown Highland Park. Reports of nine gunshot victims,” wrote Lake and McHenry County scanner.