(Update 1: adds charges, statements and details, changes head and lede)
Washington, Jul 5 (EFE).- The man arrested in connection to the Highland Park, Illinois, Independence Day shooting that left seven people dead and dozens wounded has been charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, authorities said Tuesday.
In addition, police said the suspect may have planned the attack for weeks, and that he wore women’s clothing during the incident in order to evade detection. Past encounters with law enforcement, including a threat, were also revealed Tuesday.
Robert Crimo, 21, has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart told a news conference Tuesday evening.
“These are just the first of many charges that will be filed against Mr Crimo. I want to emphasize that,” Rinehart said, adding that “dozens of more charges centering around each of the victims” are anticipated, among others.
Crimo faces mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole, if convicted.
So far, police have not been able to establish a motive for the mass shooting.
“We have no information to suggest at this point it was racially motivated, motivated by religion or any other protected status,” said Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.
What the authorities have been able to clarify is that Crimo, who acted alone, planned the attack.
“We do believe Crimo pre-planned this attack for several weeks,” Covelli said.
Authorities believe he took a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15,” climbed onto the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder, and fired more than 70 rounds into the crowd watching an Independence Day parade.
Crimo previously had two encounters with law enforcement, police said.
In April 2019 authorities were contacted by an individual about Crimo attempting suicide, which was handled by mental health professionals, Covelli said.
In September the same year, a family member told authorities Crimo threatened to “kill everyone.” Police removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the residence, and notified state police.
Crimo also legally purchased five firearms in the years following these two events.
Highland Park authorities released the names of the victims of the massacre, which included a couple in their thirties, who left behind their two-year-old child who was found wandering alone in the wake of the attack.
A total of 45 people died or were injured during the shooting, Covelli said, according to CNN.
The suspect dressed as a woman in order to hide his facial tattoos and identity during the attack.
“He dropped his rifle and he blended in with the crowd and he escaped,” Covelli said, adding that he “blended right in with everybody else as they were running around almost as [if] he was an innocent spectator as well.”
Crimo then went to his mother’s house nearby, where he took her car but was later intercepted by police. Inside that car, police found a second rifle.