Chicago attack: Accused man faces life in prison if convicted

Irina and Kevin McCarthy, parents of a two-year-old toddler, are among the dead

The man accused of the mass shooting at a 4th of July parade near Chicago on Monday, if convicted, is facing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, authorities in Illinois have said.

Robert Crimo was charged on Tuesday with seven counts of first degree murder.

However, Lake County State’s attorney Eric Rinehart said he anticipated there would be dozens of more charges for what he called a “premeditated and calculated attack”.

Mr Rinehart said authorities would seek the maximum sentence when the case reached the courts.

Seven people died and more than 30 were wounded after a gunman on the roof of a building opened fire with a high-powered rifle on the crowd watching the Independence Day parade in Highland Park, a suburb about 25 miles from Chicago.

Among the dead were Irina (35) and Kevin McCarthy (37), the mother and father of a two-year-old child who they had brought to the parade. A public funding drive for the boy, Aiden, who is to be raised by his grandparents, has raised more than $1.6 million dollars.

Mr Crimo, a 21-year-old man from near Highland Park, was detained on Monday evening by police following a brief car chase.

It emerged on Tuesday that Mr Crimo had come to the attention of police on two occasions in 2019, which has led to questions about how he subsequently purchased, legally, five weapons including two rifles.

Police said they had confiscated a collection of 16 knives and a sword from Mr Crimo in 2019 after reports he had made threatening comments to family members.

The deputy chief of the Lake County Sherriff’s office Christopher Covelli said police had been contacted by a family member in September 2019 that Mr Crimo had knives and had said he was “going to kill everybody”.

Mr Covelli said police in Highland Park in Illinois had removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the home, but there was no probable cause to arrest the suspect at that time.

He said Mr Crimo did not have any guns at that time. He also said that in April 2019 a person contacted Highland Park police to say that Mr Crimo had attempted suicide.

Deputy chief Covelli said police spoke with Mr Crimo and his parents at the time but did not pursue the matter further because it was being handled by health professionals.

Police maintained that Mr Crimo had planned the attack for several weeks.

Police said he had worn women’s clothes at the time of the shooting in the Highland Park suburb on Monday morning to disguise his appearance, including his facial tattoos.

Police said they had not yet identified any motive for the attack, and had no information that it was linked to either race or religion.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, police maintained Mr Crimo had climbed up a fire escape ladder to the roof of a building and fired about 70 rounds from a high-powered rifle into the crowd attending the parade at Highland Park in Illinois.

Police said he had dropped his rifle after the shooting and blended into the crowd. He said the suspect had walked to his mother’s house nearby and borrowed her car.

Mr Covelli said Mr Crimo had bought the rifle used in the attack in Illinois and that it appeared to have been purchased legally. He said when Mr Crimo’s had been pulled over by police on Monday night after a public alert was issued, he had a second rifle in the vehicle. He said other guns had been recovered from a residence.

Mr Covelli said the shooting at the parade appeared to have been “completely random”.

“We have no information to suggest at this point it was racially motivated, motivated by religion, or any other protected status,” he said.

US vice president Kamala Harris in a speech on Tuesday again called on politicians in congress to “have the courage to act and renew the assault weapons ban” in light of the latest mass shooting.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent