What we know about gun used by alleged Highland Park shooter Robert Crimo

The AR-15-like weapon used in the Highland Park shooting was bought legally

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 05 July 2022 17:55 BST
Highland Park shooting: Police arrest suspected gunman after six killed at Chicago parade

The gun used in the Highland Park July 4th parade mass shooting that killed seven and wounded dozens was a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle, authorities have revealed.

Prosecutors say Robert “Bobby” Crimo III fired more than 80 rounds from a rooftop onto an Independence Day crowd, reloading three times, before escaping down a fire escape while disguised as a woman and melting into the crowd.

After fleeing the rooftop, authorities said the weapon fell out of his bag in an alley.

They found the rifle, three 30-round high-capacity magazines and 83 spent shell casings around the scene.

The M&P 15 gun is described in marketing as an “AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle” which is designed for “police and consumer markets”.

Authorities initially said they had recovered a “rifle” from along the July 4th parade route, and that they were deliberately withholding further details as they hunted for the gunman.

Sgt. Christopher Covelli, from the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, later described the weapon as a “high-powered rifle”, similar to an AR-15.

Law enforcement first identified suspect Robert E Crimo, 22, through DNA found on the rifle.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted a rapid trace of the rifle to identify where the gun was last sold and to whom.

Mr Crimo was named as a person of interest and arrested about eight hours later after a brief pursuit with police. He was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said in interviews on Tuesday she believed the weapon used in the mass shooting was purchased legally. Authorities later confirmed that detail and said Mr Crimo was in possession of other weapons, including a rifle at the time of his arrest.

Rifle used shooting purchased online for under $700

The high-powered rifle used to kill seven and wound dozens more in the Independence Day parade mass shooting was legally purchased at an online retailer in Kentucky.

The Daily Beast reported the suspect bought the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle at Buds Gun Shops, who sell the weapon for under $700 with free shipping.

The weapon was shipped to an Illinois gun dealer called Red Dot Arms, where suspect Robert Crimo III picked it up from.

The owner of Red Dot Arms told the news outlet that he was contacted by federal agents on Monday after they located the weapon near the scene of the mass shooting.

He was able to pass on Mr Crimo’s details after driving to his office and checking sales information.

“Most of these people doing these things are pretty stupid,” the owner said.

“Somebody that... would’ve put a thought [into] this would’ve grinded the serial number and we would’ve never found him.”

Semi-automatic gunfire rains down on a July 4th parade

When the gunfire erupted just after 10am CDT, hundreds of parade-goers in Highland Park fled leaving prams, clothes and pools of blood strewn along the route in Highland Park.

In videos of the incident, the heavy, staccato sound of semi-automatic gunfire was unmistakeable.

“We heard 20 to 30 rounds,” Letham Burns told NBC News.

“It definitely was semi-automatic, in a rapid cadence.”

Another witness, Dr David Baum, told NBC Chicago the injuries sustained were “horrific”.

“The kind of injuries you’d probably see in wartime, the kind of injuries that only probably happen when bullets can blow bodies up,” he said. 

Robert Crimo was taken into custody after an eight-hour manhunt on Monday (Robert Crimo via REUTERS)

Many took shelter anywhere they could: in dumpsters, businesses and homes as the city was locked down for hours.

In recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York that left a combined 31 people dead, including 19 children, the 18-year-old shooters in both cases legally purchased the AR-15s they used.

In Uvalde, doctors and medical examiners who responded to the scene had to identify many of the victims through DNA, so badly damaged were the bullet-riddled bodies of the first and second grade children.

House lawmakers passed a sweeping gun reform package last month that included raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 years old and banning large-capacity magazines. 

However, the Senate agreed to vote on a watered-down bill that stopped shorted of raising the minimum age AR-15s could be purchased at.

Instead, the Senate bill that has since been signed into law enhanced background checks for under 21 year olds, closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” created stiffer penalties for gun trafficking and provided  $750m for mental health services and school security.

AR-15s have become synonymous with mass shootings in the United States.

The semi-automatic weapon was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, in the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

In a press conference annoucing seven first degree murder charges against Mr Crimo, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart called for a state and national assault weapons ban.

“We should also ban assault weapons in Illinois and beyond,” Mr Rinehart said. “The assault weapon ban was implemented in 1994 with bipartisan support and with the support of law enforcement. It lasted for ten years, and studies have shown that mass shootings like what happened yesterday went down during those ten years. We should have that same ban in Illinois and beyond.”

Mr Crimo is facing a life sentence in jail if convicted.

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