Highland Park shooting suspect pleads not guilty to 117 counts

Lake County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images

(HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.) — The man accused of carrying out a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on the Fourth of July pleaded not guilty to all charges on Wednesday.

The suspect, Robert Crimo III, is facing 117 charges for killing seven people and injuring more than 30 others.

Appearing in court Wednesday for his arraignment, Crimo sat handcuffed and masked in a Lake County Jail jumpsuit next to his three attorneys.

The 21-year-old is charged with 21 counts of first-degree murder (three counts for each victim) as well as 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm (for each person hit by a bullet, bullet fragment or shrapnel).

Speaking after the arraignment, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Reinhart told reporters if the suspect is convicted of murdering any two people, he will face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Under Illinois law, any sentence on the charge of murder is served in full.

Reinhart said the suspect’s defense did not demand a trial at the Wednesday hearing.

Refusing to comment on evidence, charging decisions or the status of the investigation, Reinhart praised law enforcement, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and victim specialists who provided counseling for those impacted by the shooting.

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

Five of the victims killed in the shooting died at the scene, one died at a hospital the same day and the seventh victim succumbed to his injuries at a hospital on July 5, according to police.

The suspect allegedly fired more than 70 shots from a perch on top of a building overlooking the Chicago suburb’s July 4 parade route, according to police.

The suspect planned the shooting for several weeks, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing, apparently to blend in with the crowds as he made his escape, according to police. A semi-automatic rifle was found at the scene after it fell out of the suspect’s bag while leaving the area, according to police.

Investigators said they found a second rifle, purchased legally, in the car the suspect was driving when he was arrested several hours later. The suspect also legally purchased three other weapons, including two pistols, which investigators seized from his father’s home.

Two troubling encounters with police did not surface when background checks were run on Crimo, a part of his application for a gun license.

Police had checked in on the suspect in April 2019 after he attempted suicide, but his parents assured police he was getting help from mental health professionals. The second encounter came when police were called to his home in September 2019 after a family member claimed Crimo was threatening to “kill everyone,” according to police records.

At the time, the Highland Park Police Department determined that the shooter posed a “clear and present danger,” according to police records.

This was just months before he passed four background checks as part of his application for a firearm owner identification card, at the age of 19.

Because he was under 21 at the time, his father sponsored his application and state police said there was an “insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application.”

State police said they had reviewed the suspect’s criminal history before approving his application and only found a January 2016 ordinance violation for being a minor in possession of tobacco.

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