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Photo emerges of Robert Crimo disguised in women’s clothes to flee Highland Park shooting

Robert Crimo III, 21, dressed in women’s clothing as a disguise so that he could blend into the crowd of panicked parade-goers as they fled the scene of terror

Rachel Sharp
Wednesday 06 July 2022 01:13 BST
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The Highland Park shooting suspect “pre-planned his attack for several weeks” and wore women’s clothing as a disguise so that he could escape the scene of the mass shooting where he had just killed six victims, according to law enforcement.

Robert Crimo III, a 21-year-old local man, was arrested on Monday evening following an eight-hour manhunt, when he was spotted driving along a highway in Illinois in his mother’s car.

He was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday.

Lake County Sgt Christopher Covelli said in a press conference on Tuesday that Mr Crimo was captured on video footage dressed in women’s clothing so that he could blend into the crowd of panicked parade-goers fleeing from the scene of the massacre.

He said he couldn’t confirm if the suspect was also wearing a wig at the time.

Sgt Covelli said that Mr Crimo took an AR-15-style rifle to the July 4 parade route in Highland Park where families, friends and local residents had gathered for Independence Day celebrations.

The gunman then climbed up a fire escape ladder onto the roof of a nearby store, setting up a sniper position.

At around 10.14am – just 14 minutes into the July 4 parade – he opened fire, unleashing a hail of more than 70 rounds of bullets into the crowd of parade-goers and participants below, said officials.

The 21-year-old – who officials previously mistakenly said was 22 – then climbed down from the roof and hid in plain sight among the crowd, walking home to his mother’s house.

Sgt Covelli said that there is no indication that Mr Crimo confided in his mother about what he had just done and there is also no evidence that anyone else was involved in the massacre.

The suspect was later tracked down and arrested on a highway after police released his name and photo to the public, leading a passer-by to spot him and call in a tip.

As well as the high-powered rifle used to carry out the attack – which was left behind at the scene – Mr Crimo was also armed with a second rifle inside his vehicle when he was captured.

Photo of Robert Crimo dressed as a woman to escape the area of the mass shooting (WGN9)

A search of his home has also uncovered multiple other firearms including pistols.

All the firearms were legally purchased across multiple locations in the nearby area and registered under his name, police said.

Highland Park has a ban on assault rifles, which was put in place by the current mayor in 2013.

The motive for the attack is still unknown.

However, Sgt Covellio said: “We do believe Crimo pre-planned the attack for several weeks.”

Officials were also questioned about whether warning signs may have been missed, as it has since emerged that Mr Crimo posted several disturbing videos glorifying violence online prior to the attack.

Sgt Covelli said the investigation was still ongoing into the matter.

Mr Crimo, whose father made a failed bid for mayor of Highland Park but lost to current Mayor Nancy Rottering, is also an amateur rapper who goes by the name Awake the Rapper and has more than 16,000 listeners a month on his Spotify page.

One music video he released glamourised school shootings while he also shared a video of a beheading on a separate platform.

Despite these revelations, his uncle toldCNN that he had seen “no signs” to suggest his reclusive nephew would go on to carry out a mass shooting.

People return to their belongings in the aftermath of the shooting (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Sgt Covelli confirmed on Tuesday that all six victims were adults, with none of the wounded children among the dead.

Five of the victims died at the scene while the sixth succumbed to their injuries after being rushed to hospital.

The first details have begun to emerge about the victims with the family of 76-year-old grandfather Nicholas Toledo confirming his death on Monday afternoon.

The elderly man, of dual US and Mexico nationality, used a wheelchair and was sitting in it watching the parade when he was struck by bullets.

Robert E Crimo III, 21, is an amateur rapper who goes by the stage name ‘Awake the Rapper’ (Robert Crimo/Reuters)

Mr Toledo’s granddaughter told the New York Times they “were all in shock” and revealed that her grandfather hadn’t wanted to go to the parade but only agreed to go so that he could join in the festivities with his family.

A second victim was also identified on Monday night as a devoted member of a local synagogue and married mother-of-one.

Jacki Sundheim was remembered by the North Shore Congregation Israel as a “lifelong” congregant and “cherished” staffer whose “work, kindness and warmth touched us all”.

As well as the six victims killed, 38 people were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

By Tuesday morning, eight patients were still receiving treatment with their conditions currently unknown.

President Joe Biden condemned the shooting and said that it showed there was “much more work to do” to tackle America’s gun violence – with the attack coming just weeks after 21 students and teachers were murdered in a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and 10 Black people were shot dead in a racist attack in Buffalo, New York.

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