Highland Park shooter: Gunman pleads not guilty at arraignment

Robert Crimo III, the gunman who killed 7 people and injured 30 at an infamous 4th of July shooting, pled not guilty to the charges.

 Robert E. Crimo III, suspect in the mass shooting that took place at a Fourth of July parade route in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, US is seen in initial booking photograph from the Highland Park Police Department released July 6, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Robert E. Crimo III, suspect in the mass shooting that took place at a Fourth of July parade route in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, US is seen in initial booking photograph from the Highland Park Police Department released July 6, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Robert Crimo III, 21,  the gunman from the 4th of July Highland Park shooting, pled not guilty to all the charges against him on Wednesday at his arraignment. 

Crimo had been indicted on 117 counts: 21 counts of first-degree murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He confessed to the crime during one of the first investigation sessions he was in after his arrest. 

In the courtroom, during the arraignment, the court adopted a strict dress code that forbade any clothing showing support for Highland Park. The victims of the shooting were invited to watch via zoom.

What happened during the hearing? 

During the hearing, Judge Victoria Rossetti explained the range of sentences that Crimo was facing, including life in prison with no possible bail — should he be convicted of first-degree murder.

 A still image from surveillance footage shows a person who police believe to be Robert (Bob) E. Crimo III, a person of interest in the mass shooting that took place at a Fourth of July parade route in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, US dressed in women's clothing on July 4, 2022 (credit: HIGHLAND PARK POLICE DEPT VIA REUTERS) A still image from surveillance footage shows a person who police believe to be Robert (Bob) E. Crimo III, a person of interest in the mass shooting that took place at a Fourth of July parade route in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, US dressed in women's clothing on July 4, 2022 (credit: HIGHLAND PARK POLICE DEPT VIA REUTERS)

Sitting handcuffed in a dark Lake County Jail jumpsuit and mask beside his to his three attorneys, Crimo responded in a clear voice saying that he understood the charges.

Investigators say that Crimo had been planning this attack for weeks, perhaps even months. Crimo was arrested later during the day of the attack after a police officer caught him driving north towards Madison, Wisconsin where he was allegedly planning a second attack at another Fourth of July parade.

The victims that were hurt in the shooting ranged from eight to 80-years-old, including 8-year-old Cooper Roberts, whose spine was severed leaving him paralyzed waist down. Crimo also left a 2-year-old boy orphaned.

How did he do it? 

According to police reports, Crimo climbed to the roof of a building overlooking the parade route. He then shot towards the crowd. 

While fleeing the scene, Crimo dressed up in women's clothing and wore makeup to cover his facial tattoos as a way to blend into the crowd and avoid recognition. According to police, a semi-automatic rifle was found at the scene after it fell from his bag while he was leaving the area.

Investigators said at the time that they found a legally purchased second rifle in his car when he was arrested. He also legally purchased three other guns, which were seized by authorities from his father's home.

Crimo in the system

When police looked Crimo up in the system, they found his record: Two other encounters with the police that didn't surface when background checks were done during his gun license application.

In April 2019, the police were called to check on Crimo after an attempted suicide. His parents claimed that they were sending him to get mental health care. Then, in September, police were called again because a family member claimed that he wanted to "kill everyone."

Per Illinois gun laws, anyone under the age of 21 that wants to get a gun license has to be sponsored by a legal guardian — Crimo's father sponsored him when he was 19. When state police reviewed his criminal activity, the only thing that came up was the possession of tobacco as a minor in January 2016.

"Seven people lost their lives; there are three alternative ways that we see, in very many murder cases, to charge the offense of murder. That's why there are 21 counts. If you were to go to any murder prior to this proceeding, you would see that very typically there are three. Sometimes there are two, but most often there are three," Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said after the arraignment. 

"This community, who from the moment this tragedy occured has worked together, shoulder-to-shoulder to help those in need, police officers, firefighters, health communicators, medical personnel and citizens alike, working together to restore our peace and health and well-being for all involved," Highland Park Police Chief Louis Jogmen added. 

"They are an integral part of our community, and they are one of those many reasons that we can confidently say, 'We are Highland Park',"

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering

"They are our hometown heroes," Mayor Nancy Rotering said, voicing her support for law enforcement at the event. "They are an integral part of our community, and they are one of those many reasons that we can confidently say, 'We are Highland Park.'"

Attorneys have agreed to return for a case management conference on November 1.