July 4 parade massacre suspect planned attack for weeks
Washington, Jul 5 (EFE).- Robert Crimo, the 21-year-old arrested for the July 4 parade massacre in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park which left seven people dead and 39 wounded, planned the attack for weeks and dressed as a woman while carrying it out so as not to arouse suspicion before the incident and while he made his getaway, authorities said Tuesday.
Lake County Sheriff’s Department spokesman and Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli provided this information at a press conference after the department interviewed witnesses to, and survivors of, the attack and reviewed cellphone video recordings made during the shooting spree.
Shortly after the press conference began, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering confirmed to CNN that a seventh person had died.
So far, police have not been able to establish Crimo’s motives for the attack, and charges have not yet been filed against him.
In responding to a question about whether the attack could be considered anti-Semitic, given that the area in which it occurred has a large Jewish population, Covelli said that authorities have no evidence to suggest any racial or religious motive for it.
“At this point we have not developed a motive for him,” Covelli said, adding that investigators “have been in discussions with him,” although he said he would not go into what Crimo may or may not have said.
“There are no indications there was anyone else involved in this attack,” Covelli said. “By all indications, it appears Crimo was acting by himself.”
The deputy chief said that Crimo brought a high-powered rifle – similar to an AR-15 – to the parade, used a fire escape to climb onto the roof of a store and opened fire on the crowd gathered below to watch the July 4 parade.
He said that Crimo dressed as a woman to be able to hide his identity and his facial tattoos, adding that more than 70 shots were fired into the crowd and that he had purchased the weapon “legally” in Illinois.
After the shooting, Crimo climbed down from the roof, dropped the rifle and mixed in with the crowd as if he were another parade-goer, then walked to the house of his mother, who lives nearby.
There, he took his mother’s car to escape but he was intercepted by police, who found a second rifle inside the vehicle.
Local media have reported that Crimo had posted several videos and violent messages on the social networks before the attack, including some portraying staging a massacre on a school.
According to NBC, the suspect discussed assorted ways of killing people on the videos, and one of the last ones he posted shows a beheading. The YouTube platform shut down the young man’s Web page on Monday night.
Mayor Rotering also told CNN that, using an alias, the suspect had posted music videos that included footage of mass shootings.
“We know that several postings really reflected a plan and a desire to commit carnage for a long time in advance,” she said.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered flags nationwide to be flown at half-staff until Saturday at all federal buildings, including US embassies and consular offices, as well as military installations abroad.
That decision, the White House said in a statement, was made as a sign of respect for the dead, one of whom was a Mexican citizen, and the wounded.
This massacre comes after in late May 19 children and two teachers were murdered by an 18-year-old gunman with a semi-automatic rifle at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. He had purchased the weapon legally.
As a result of that attack and another that was staged in Buffalo, New York, in which 10 people were murdered, Congress in June approved marginally increasing gun control measures, an agreement struck between Democrats and a few Republicans that has been criticized by some for being only a minimalist package.
The new law, which was signed by Biden, includes background checks for gun buyers under age 21 and extends nationwide the so-called “Red Flag” rules allowing authorities to confiscate weapons from people deemed to represent a danger to third parties or to themselves.