Robert Crimo III, ‘Awake the Rapper’, arrested in Highland Park shooting

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Authorities said Tuesday that a 21-year-old who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago plotted “for several weeks” before opening fire, tried to conceal his identity by carrying women’s clothing, then mingled with the crowd fleeing the carnage.

Six people were killed and dozens injured in the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, which sent terrified revelers searching for safety and sparked an hours-long manhunt. Police have identified the shooting suspect as Robert Crimo III of Highwood, Illinois. He was arrested hours after the shooting but had not been charged with a crime as of midday Tuesday.

During the shooting, the attacker brought “a high-powered rifle” to the roof of a business overlooking the parade and fired more than 70 rounds, said Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli. during a press briefing on Tuesday. .

Covelli said investigators believe the assailant donned women’s clothing to conceal his facial tattoos and identity and allow him to escape with the fleeing parade participants. That tactic apparently worked, Covelli said, as the shooter disappeared into the crowd.

The suspect then allegedly borrowed a car from his mother, who lived nearby, Covelli said. He was apprehended on Monday evening after authorities publicly identified him and the vehicle he was driving, and another motorist saw the vehicle and called 911. (Police initially said the suspected shooter was 22, but Covelli amended that on Tuesday and said he was 21.)

Inside the vehicle, Covelli said, police also found another rifle; both weapons appeared to have been purchased legally, he said.

Read the latest updates on the filming of Highland Park, Illinois

Investigators were still looking for what might have prompted the shootings, which Covelli described Tuesday as “completely random.” He declined to say whether the alleged attacker was speaking to investigators. But he said as of noon Tuesday, based on preliminary information, police had no indication the shooting was motivated by any kind of racial or religious animosity – a fear that had been circulating given the significant Jewish population of the region.

It was unclear on Tuesday whether the alleged attacker had an attorney.

Authorities were also reviewing videos the alleged shooter had previously posted online, Covelli said.

The videos painted a portrait of a local rapper whose online presence contained undertones of violence as well as a haunting monologue depicting a troubled young man.

In images released by the police and on his social media profiles, the 21-year-old, who authorities described as white, is thin, with a patchy beard and visible tattoos on his face and neck, including one above his left eyebrow that reads “Awake “.

He was apparently also known online as “Awake the Rapper” and, like many others, had a modest following, amateur music videos on YouTube and tracks released on Spotify.

Witness to 4th of July parade shooting says she feels ‘nowhere is safe’

Some of the videos included disturbing images. One shows a computer-drawn image of a character wearing what appears to be tactical gear and firing a rifle, with one person kneeling with their hands raised seemingly begging for mercy, and another lying on the ground. Another clip shows a person appearing to be Crimo wearing a helmet and vest in a classroom next to an American flag.

The voiceover for this video is imposed against a backdrop of dramatic instrumental music: “I have to go now, I just have to do it. It’s my destiny. Everything led to this; nothing can stop me, not even myself.

In another video, Crimo declares: “Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom? Freedom.” Another: “I hate when other people get more attention than me on the internet.”

The videos were no longer available on YouTube on Monday evening and his songs were removed from Spotify. A Spotify spokesperson said in an email that the streaming service removed the content “in partnership” with the music’s various distributors. Distributors were “all aligned to remove this content,” the spokesperson said.

One of Crimo’s videos appears to have been recorded by him as he waits in the middle of a crowd for a presidential motorcade to pass. Photos that appear to show Crimo attending a rally for former President Donald Trump have also surfaced, but it is unclear from his online posts that he was a supporter of Trump or any other party. politician or candidate.

“He was immersed in fringe internet culture. But nothing uncovered so far suggests a clear political or ideological motive,” said Emerson T. Brooking, senior researcher at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which studies how information spreads online.

Brooking said that stands in contrast to mass shooters in Buffalo, El Paso and Poway, Calif., who posted online missives expressing racist beliefs shortly before their attacks.

Several people were killed and injured in a shooting during a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4. (Video: The Washington Post)

Young men, guns and the prefrontal cortex

Bennett Brizes, who befriended Crimo around 2015 through the music scene, said Crimo was “persistently apolitical”. When Brizes asked about current affairs and politics, Crimo would simply reply, “Man, I don’t know.”

Crimo, whose friends called him Bobby, said Brizes, at one point made some decent money from his music; Brizes recalled that Crimo once released physical copies of his music and walked into a Gucci store in San Diego and bought a tracksuit. But the two broke up and stopped speaking to each other around 2019. When they spoke early last year, Crimo seemed “depressed,” Brizes said.

While he’s always been known as kind of a “weird guy” in the lo-fi hip-hop scene, Brizes said there was never anything about him that would suggest real-world violence.

In an interview with Chicago’s Fox 32 television station, a man identifying himself as Crimo’s uncle, Paul Crimo, said his nephew spends a lot of time on his computer.

“He’s a very quiet kid, he keeps everything to himself. He doesn’t express himself, he just sits on his computer, there’s no interaction between me and him,” said Paul Crimo , who added that his nephew was unemployed but worked at a Panera Bread franchise about two years ago “He didn’t go to college, he was a YouTube rapper.”

Paul Crimo said he lived at the same address as Robert Crimo III and his father, Robert Crimo Jr. But he said his interaction with his nephew was limited to saying hello and goodbye and when he occasionally helped him around. the House. Young Crimo had a separate apartment on the property, his uncle said.

Robert Crimo III’s father appears to be the former owner of a local grocery store who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Highland Park, a town of around 30,000, in 2019.

“Me and my brother are very well known in Highland Park,” said Paul Crimo. “Everyone loves us. It breaks my heart to hear about this.

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