July 4 shooting suspect bought guns legally despite threats

The man accused of killing seven people when he unleashed a barrage of bullets at the Independence Day parade from a rooftop was expected in court Wednesday as authorities faced questions about how to allow him to purchase several guns, despite the threat of violence.

Robert E. Cremo III He was charged with seven counts of murder Tuesday in the shooting that sent hundreds of protesters, parents and children fleeing in fear and beginning an hours-long manhunt in and around Highland Park, an affluent Chicago suburb on the shores of Lake Michigan. Investigators have yet to determine the motive.

Karimo’s lawyer said he intends to plead not guilty to all charges. Prosecutors promised to pursue dozens of others.

A spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crime Squad said a rifle “similar to an AR-15 rifle” was used to spray more than 70 rounds off a commercial building in the parade crowd.

The seventh victim died Tuesday. More than 36 people were wounded in the attack, which Christopher Coveley, a task force spokesman, said the suspect had planned several weeks ago.

The attack occurred less than three years after the police went to Kremo’s home following a call from a family member who said he was threatening to “kill everyone” there. Coveli said police confiscated 16 knives, daggers and a sword, but said there was no indication he was in possession of any weapons at the time, in September 2019.

Coveli said that in April 2019 police also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect.

Covelli said Cremo legally purchased the rifle used in the Illinois attack last year. In all, police said he purchased five firearms, which officers recovered at his father’s home.

Revealing his gun purchases is the latest example of young people who have managed to obtain weapons and carry out massacres in recent months despite stark warning signs about their mental health and propensity for violence.

The Illinois State Police, which issues licenses to gun owners, said Cremo applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19.

“There was insufficient basis to identify a clear and present danger” and the request was denied, the state police said in a statement at the time.

Coveli said investigators who questioned the suspect and reviewed his social media posts had not determined a motive or found any indication that he targeted victims because of race, religion, or other protected status.

At the July 4 parade, the shooting was initially confused as a firework before hundreds of revelers fled in horror. A day later, strollers, lawn chairs and other items were left behind by terrified show-goers within a spacious police perimeter. Outside the police bar, some residents came forward to collect the blankets and chairs they had left.

David Shapiro, 47, said the shooting quickly turned the show into a “chaos.”

“People didn’t immediately know where the shooting was coming from, and whether the gunman was in front of you or behind you was chasing you,” he said on Tuesday, as he retrieved a stroller and lawn chairs.

The shooting took place at a location on the parade route where many residents had positioned key viewing points earlier in the day.

They included Nicholas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico, and Jackie Sondheim, a lifelong worshiper and staff member of the nearby North Shore congregation in Israel. The Lake County coroner has released the names of four other victims.

Hospital officials said nine people between the ages of 14 and 70 remained in hospital on Tuesday.

It was the last shooting that shattered the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores, and now community rallies have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

Coveli said the gunman initially evaded capture by wearing a woman’s costume and merging into the fleeing mob.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jugmin said a police officer pulled 21-year-old Kremo north of the shooting scene several hours after police released his photo and warned him he was likely armed and dangerous.

Law enforcement searches after a shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Barkel. (Nam Wai Hoh/The Associated Press)

Asked about his client’s emotional state, senior attorney Thomas A. Durkin, who is based in Chicago, only spoke to Cremo once – for 10 minutes on the phone. He declined to give further details.

In 2013, Highland Park officials agreed to ban semi-automatic weapons and magazines of large-capacity ammunition. Soon, a local doctor and the Illinois State Rifle Association challenged the position of the liberal suburb. The legal fight ended at the threshold of the US Supreme Court in 2015 when judges refused to hear the case and left suburban restrictions in place.

Under Illinois law, the purchase of guns can be denied to people convicted of crimes, drug addicts, or those deemed capable of harming themselves or others. This last ruling may have prevented Karimo, the suicide bomber, from obtaining a weapon.

But by law, to whom this provision applies must be determined by a “court, board of directors, committee or other legal authority.”

The state has a so-called red flag law designed to stop dangerous people before they are killed, but it requires family members, relatives, roommates, or the police to ask a judge to order a gun confiscation order.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, who posted dozens of videos and songs on social media, some ominous and violent.

A law enforcement official said federal agents were reviewing Crimo’s personal files online, and a preliminary examination of his online history indicated he had researched mass killings and downloaded multiple images depicting violence, including beheadings.

The official could not discuss the details of the investigation publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Shapiro, a Highland Park resident who fled the show with his family, said his 4-year-old son woke up screaming later that night.

“He’s too young to understand what happened,” Shapiro said. “But he knows something bad happened.”

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