The suspected Chicago-area shooter who slaughtered seven and wounded 30 escaped dressed as a woman in order to evade detection, authorities said.
After firing more than 70 rounds, Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, exited the roof, dropped his rifle, slipped into the crowd and went to his mother’s house, according to Chris Covelli, a spokesman with the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
“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 celebration-goers,” Covelli said.
Authorities charged Crimo with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday.
An active member of a local Jewish congregation and a beloved grandfather and father of eight were among the dead in Highland Park, an affluent suburb on Chicago’s north shore, officials said.
Investigators believe Crimo disguised himself as a woman in order to hide his facial tattoos and aid in his escape from the scene, according to Covelli.
After escaping, Crimo walked to his mother’s house and borrowed her vehicle, Covelli said. There is no indication he shared anything about his alleged involvement in the shooting with his mother.
Following a police alert for the vehicle, an “alert member of community” saw it and called 911.
After he was apprehended, officers found another rifle in the vehicle, Covelli said. That rifle also appeared to have been legally purchased by Crimo. Other weapons were found in his Highwood home.
Crimo remains in custody.
Investigators are asking members of the community to come forward with any video they may have of Crimo at the parade.
“The community has been absolutely terrific as it comes to reporting information they may have, things they may have witnessed, turning over video,” Covelli said.
Details on the original purchase of the weapon came from an expedited trace conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the wake of the shooting. The weapon has been described by authorities as “high powered.”
The expedited trace provided a “major lead” to investigators, according to Covelli.
He also told the Tribune that the FBI is sending in an expert team to reconstruct the shooting, which means items left along the parade route will likely remain for several days.
The victims ranged in age from 8 to 85. None of those killed were children, authorities said.
Parade attendees described hearing a barrage of bullets while watching floats and marchers on the street. People grabbed children and ran, taking cover in nearby shops. A tuba player recalled watching people running in panic while his band played.
A member of the FBI’s evidence response team removes an American flag one day after a mass shooting in downtown Highland Park, Ill., Tuesday, July 5, 2022. A shooter fired on an Independence Day parade from a rooftop spraying the crowd with gunshots initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of panicked revelers of all ages fled in terror. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Brooke and Matt Strauss, who were married Sunday, pause after leaving their wedding bouquets in downtown Highland Park, Ill., near the scene of Monday’s mass shooting Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Highland Park, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)