Illinois shooting suspect considered second attack, US police say

The 21-year-old is accused of killing seven people at a Fourth of July parade near Chicago

The man accused of killing seven people at a Fourth of July parade near Chicago on Monday seriously considered a second shooting in another town on the same day, US police have said.

Police said that after shooting dozens of people from a roof at Highland Park in Illinois he drove across the state border to Wisconsin where he came across a celebration under way in the city of Madison about 240km (150 miles) away.

Police said he contemplated carrying out a second shooting there but decided not to do so.

Police said on Wednesday that “indications are that he hadn’t put enough thought or research into it”.

The 21-year-old accused, Robert Crimo, appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday. He is facing seven counts of first-degree murder and if convicted could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors said Mr Crimo had confessed to the attack in Highland Park. However, he did not enter a plea at the hearing.

Lake County state’s attorney Eric Rinehart, who is handling the case against Mr Crimo, on Wednesday forecast he would face “many more charges”.

Mr Crimo is to remain in prison without bail pending further court appearances.

Prosecutors maintain that Mr Crimo fired about 80 rounds from a high-powered rifle into the crowd watching the independence day parade at Highland Park, a suburb of about 30,000 people about 40km from Chicago.

Authorities maintained Mr Crimo reloaded his weapon three times during the attack on the parade.

Prosecutors said Mr Crimo had told police that he had dressed like a girl and covered his tattoos with make-up “because people would recognise him”.

Seven people died in the attack and dozens more were wounded.

Among the dead were Irina and Kevin McCarthy, the mother and father of a two-year-old child who they had brought to the parade.

The boy, Aiden McCarthy, was protected by his father’s body from the gunfire but was later found walking alone in the street and was looked after by a couple who found him.

Christopher Covelli, deputy chief of the Lake County sheriff’s office, told a press conference that investigators had some information “that it appears when [Mr Crimo] drove to Madison, he was driving around, however, he did see a celebration that was occurring in Madison, and he seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting in Madison”.

“We don’t have information to suggest he planned to drive to Madison initially to commit another attack. We do believe he was driving around following the first attack and saw the celebration,” he said.

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 legally purchased 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.

On Tuesday, Mr Covelli said police had been told by a family member in September 2019 that Mr Crimo had knives and had said he was “going to kill everybody”.

Authorities on Tuesday said the accused man’s father, Robert Crimo jnr, had sponsored his son’s application for a gun permit months after the threat to “kill everyone” had been made.

This was disputed by a lawyer representing the accused man’s family.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

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