The family of the 21-year-old man identified as the gunman who shot into a crowd celebrating the 4th of July in Highland Park, Illinois, appeared to have deep roots in the community. His father ran for mayor; his grandfather was born in the city and was buried in a cemetery 21 km from the city.
But there were signs of trouble in the family.
In April 2019, someone who knew Robert E. Crimo III, the man identified as the shooter, called police to say the teenager had attempted suicide, police said.
Four months later, a family member contacted the authorities, reporting that Mr. Crimo had threatened to “kill everyone”. Officers removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the home, but there was no likely reason to arrest him at the time, Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli of the Sheriff’s Office told reporters on Tuesday. Lake County.
As a portrait of Mr. Crimo emerged, authorities said they were looking at videos he had posted on social media, some of which showed disturbing drawings of mass shootings.
“We’ll look into them and see what they reveal,” Chief Covelli said.
Mr. Crimo’s grandfather, Robert Crimo, who died in 2018, was born in the town in 1929, according to his obituary. When his son, a deli owner, ran for mayor against current mayor Nancy Rotering, he said he wanted to improve local ordinances to help downtown businesses thrive.
“Highland Park is my home and always will be,” wrote Robert Crimo Jr. in an election questionnaire published in a local publication.
Ms Rotering, who was the city’s mayor for 12 years, described the 2019 contest as a “beautiful” race devoid of bad campaigning. She won re-election with more than 73% of the vote, according to the Lake County Clerk’s Office.
The Crimos’ longstanding connection to the city is typical of many residents of Highland Park, a community made up of many intergenerational families. Ms Rotering said she knew Robert Crimo III when he was around 6 years old and was a Cub Scout in a troop she led.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about Mr. Crimo then, who as a child learned to make fires and camp in the woods like other Cubs, she said.
“He was just a little boy,” Ms Rotering said.
He didn’t go to college but spent time on social media as an aspiring artist and YouTube rapper, according to his uncle, Paul Crimo, who spoke to a local TV station , FOX 32.
Mr. Crimo’s music videos appear to reference mass shootings. A video includes cartoon footage of a gunman pointing a large gun and other characters spitting blood. Later in the video, the shooter lies in a pool of blood near the police cars.
Another video shows Mr. Crimo with a newspaper posted on the wall behind him bearing a headline about the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President Kennedy in 1963. Mr. Crimo, who identified himself as ‘Awake the Rapper “, sits on a bed in front of the newspaper. The word “Awake” was tattooed on his left eyebrow.
Investigators are reviewing the videos made by Mr. Crimo and they “will be part of the investigation,” Chief Covelli said.
Paul Crimo said he shared a family home with young Mr Crimo and spoke to him on Sunday evening. “I didn’t see any signs of trouble. And if I had seen any signs, I would have said something,” he said in the interview with FOX 32. and I will be heartbroken for the rest of my life.”
Authorities said Crimo acquired five firearms after the knives were seized from his home, including two AR-type rifles, pistols and possibly a shotgun. But the uncle said he did not know where Mr. Crimo could have obtained the gun used in the shooting and that he did not know if Mr. Crimo had any mental health issues.
Mr. Crimo was a “real quiet kid,” the uncle said. “He remains alone and he does not express himself. He just sits on his computer. There is no interaction between me and him.
Jeremy Cahnmann, who ran an after-school sports program at Lincoln Elementary School a decade ago, said what stood out to him was that Mr. Crimo and his brother were often left waiting at the end of the day.
“When the program ended at 4:30 p.m., everyone else asked their parents or grandparents or caregivers to pick them up and take them home. And the last kids waiting there every day were the Crimo kids,” he said.
He said teachers at the school explained how difficult Mr Crimo’s parents were to reach. “It was a common occurrence,” he said. “If they needed to reach someone in this house, they just couldn’t.”
Mr Crimo, who was around 10 and called himself “Bobby” at the time, was “average”, he said. “He was calm, he wasn’t disruptive and he wasn’t necessarily a problem more than another 10-year-old.”
Nicolas and Andres Lopez, brothers who later went to Highland Park High School with Mr. Crimo, said they were friends with him.
“We were a group of five, we used to skate in Highland Park and Highwood,” said Nicolas Lopez. “We were smoking and doing high school stuff.”
Mr. Crimo at one point dropped out of high school, but the brothers said there was nothing during the time they were friends to suggest a problem.
“He was always quiet and reserved but kind,” said 23-year-old Andres Lopez. “He was not a quiet child who was gloomy at the time. He was silent because he was corny. He was not sinister.
In 2017, the Lopez’s older brother, Anthony LaPorte, died of a heroin overdose.
Mr. Crimo spoke at the funeral, the brothers recall.
“He was very upset, saying my brother was one of his only friends,” Nicolas Lopez said.
He said he believed a woman Mr. Crimo was dating had also broken up with him around the same time.
“That’s when he started acting weird,” Andres Lopez said. “He was reclusive.”
Alfredo Balbuena, 22, said he knew Mr Crimo from Highland Park High School and described him as “a quiet, lonely kid” who often dressed in black.
“He was left alone,” Mr. Balbuena said. “He wore black band stuff, emo-ish stuff and had a lot of tattoos.”
Michael Levenson contributed report.