Yesterday, in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, during An independence day parade, a gunman perched himself on top of a roof and opened fire on families celebrating their freedom. In the span of a second Highland Park, Chicago joined Uvalde, Texas, and Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on the infamous list of American mass shootings.
As crowds echoed screams of celebration, they soon turned to screeches and chaos as American flags waved with the wind; 22-year-old Robert E. Crimo III killed six people and injured thirty-six.
As hundreds of people scattered for protection in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, a Youtube rapper that goes by the name “Awake the Rapper” made many think he sought to grow his fame from the shooting. Christopher Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said that the gun used was a “high-powered rifle,” and the attack appeared to be both “random” and “intentional.”
Hours following the shooting, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said that a police officer briefly chased Crimo until finally pulling over about five miles north of where the shooting took place and took him into custody. Police said they did not know the motive for the shooting in Highland Park. The wounded ranged in age from 8 to 85, including four or five children.
Retired doctor Richard Kaufman was standing across the street from where the gunman opened fire. He said, “It sounded like fireworks going off. It was pandemonium,” he said. “People were covered in blood, tripping over each other.” Many witnesses returned to the crime scene to retrieve what was left behind in the chaos.
Robert E. Crimo III, also known as “Awake the Rapper,” had a Youtube page that got taken down upon his arrest. Firsthand accounts claim to have seen videos from Crimo’s Youtube channel and described them as violent and angry, not only in images but also in lyrics.
One video showcased Crimo wearing a helmet and bullet-proof vest in what looked like a classroom; the footage showed the classroom ransacked with the suspect smiling. Other animated videos showed cause for concern as one video had a stick-figure character who seemed to be Crimo, dressed in tactical gear and pursuing a shooting. An additional video illustrated a similar stick-figure character lying face down on the floor in a pool of blood, surrounded by police officers with their guns drawn.
Police declined to identify Crimo as a suspect immediately but claimed that publishing the suspect’s name and age for the public marks a step towards the truth. Law enforcement added that they processed significant digital evidence, which helped lead investigators.
The actions taken out on Monday are likely to expedite gun-control talks and determine whether or not stricter measures can prevent the mass shootings that happen so frequently in the United States.