HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – Police said the gunman who killed seven people and injured dozens of others at a Chicago-area Fourth of July parade fired more than 70 rounds with a high-powered rifle from the roof of a nearby business and then escaped by blending into the crowd wearing women’s clothing.
The shooting happened around 10:15 a.m. Monday (July 4) during an Independence Day celebration in Highland Park, Illinois. The city has about 30,000 residents and is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago.
The suspected shooter has been identified as Robert Crimo III, 21, of Highwood Township, Illinois.
On Tuesday afternoon, Chris Covelli, a spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, provided an update on the investigation.
“We do believe Crimo pre-planned this attack for several weeks,” Covelli said. “He brought a high-powered rifle to this parade. He accessed the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder, and began opening fire on the innocent Independence Day celebration goers.”
Covelli didn’t name the business, but said the suspected gunman used a ladder affixed to the building to climb to the roof. He was near where many residents had gone early to get the best spots to watch the parade, according to authorities.
Police said more than 70 rounds were fired from a “high-powered” rifle into the crowd. The weapon is capable of shooting high-velocity rounds and is similar to an AR-15, Covelli said.
Investigators said that rifle was purchased legally by the suspected shooter in the Chicago area.
Police have identified at least seven people who were killed during this shooting, they said. None of them were children, Covelli said.
More than 30 people were injured, all by gunfire, according to authorities.
“The information I have right now is that all of those who were either transported to the hospital or drove themselves to the hospital were injured by gunfire,” Covelli said.
After the attack, the shooter exited the roof, dropped the rifle and blended in with the crowd, Covelli said. He walked to his mother’s home, which is in the area of the parade, according to police.
“He blended right in with everybody else as they were running around, almost as (if) he was an innocent spectator, as well,” Covelli said.
Officials said the suspected shooter used women’s clothing as part of his disguise.
“During the attack, Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing, and investigators do believe he did this to conceal his facial tattoos and his identity and help him during the escape with the other people who were fleeing the chaos,” Covelli said.
Police put out an alert that the suspected shooter had borrowed his mother’s vehicle. Someone saw it heading south on Route 41 and called 911, Covelli said.
A Chicago police officer spotted the vehicle, called for backup, and helped make a traffic stop, according to authorities. The suspected gunman was taken into custody without any injuries to police, they said.
A second rifle was found inside the vehicle, according to Covelli. He said that rifle had also been purchased legally by the suspected shooter, but at a different time and place than the first.
More guns were recovered from a home in Highwood Township, where the suspected gunman had been living at the time, officials said. All the guns had been legally purchased in his name, authorities said.
The suspected shooter remains in custody, and there’s no indication that anyone else was involved in the attack, police said. They believe he acted alone.
Investigators are still working to understand the motive behind the attack.
“The shooting appears to be completely random,” Covelli said.
Covelli was asked several times about disturbing online posts by the suspected shooter. He said nobody called Highland Park police to tip them off about that behavior.
“No, we were not made aware of these videos,” Covelli said.
You can watch the full police update below.