Highland Park, News

Father of alleged Fourth of July gunman arrested for helping son acquire firearms

Local authorities charged Robert Crimo Jr. on Friday, Dec. 16, with seven counts of reckless conduct for his role in the purchase of a gun that his son allegedly used to shoot more than 50 people on July 4 in Highland Park.

Crimo Jr. sponsored a Firearms Owner’s Identification application for his son, Bobby Crimo III, who went on to purchase several firearms and is charged with the Fourth of July attack.

Crimo Jr. turned himself in to Highland Park police Friday a day after the charges were approved by the Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart, who held a press conference Friday to announce the arrest.

“We must remember the long-standing principle that people bear responsibility when they recklessly endanger others,” Rinehart said. “These are the moral and legal foundations on which these charges rest.”

Rinehart said that Crimo Jr. signed his son’s FOID card application on Dec. 16, 2019, when Crimo III was 19 years old. Illinois law states that individuals aged 18-20 can only acquire a FOID card and legally own firearms if they are sponsored by a parent or guardian.

Robert Crimo Jr. (pictured in a photo from 2019) was arrested on Friday, Dec. 16.

Rinehart said Crimo Jr. had information that made his sponsorship of his son’s application reckless. Calling it an open investigation, Rinehart declined to provide details on what that information may be.

“Parents and guardians are in the best position to decide whether their teenagers should have a weapon. They are the first line of defense,” he said. “In this case, the system failed when Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son. He knew what he knew and he signed the form anyway. This was criminally reckless and a contributing cause to the bodily harm suffered by victims on July 4.”

Reckless conduct is a felony, and Crimo Jr faces up to three years in prison per charge, Rinehart said, adding that multiple convictions of the crime typically are served concurrently.

Each of the seven reckless conduct charges represents a victim of the mass shooting on July 4. On that day, the gunman fired more than 80 rounds in under a minute from an assault-style weapon that he purchased after acquiring the FOID card. He shot more than 50 people, killing seven: Katherine Goldstein, 64, of Highland Park; Irina McCarthy, 35, of Highland Park; Kevin McCarthy, 37, of Highland Park; Stephen Straus, 88, of Highland Park; Jacki Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park; Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico; and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan.

Police apprehended and arrested Crimo III about nine hours after the shooting, eventually approving more than 100 charges, including seven counts of murder, related to the shooting.

According to previous police statements and media reporting, law enforcement interacted with the alleged gunman at least twice prior to the Fourth of July shooting, including just two months before his FOID application was submitted.

In September 2019, the shooter allegedly told his family he would “kill everyone.” Officers reportedly seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the family’s household at the time, but returned them, because they reportedly belonged to Crimo Jr. and not his son. HP officials said Crimo III was not arrested at the time but the City notified Illinois State Police, the organization that processed the FOID card.

After the alleged gunman was arrested, ISP defended its decision to issue him a FOID card, saying it did not have enough evidence to deny the application.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart at a July vigil for those affected by the shooting on July 4.

At the press conference Friday, Rinehart explained that legislation and other measures are pending to change the approval process to attain a FOID card.

“A FOID application … is something he has to sign, he answers a few questions about himself. I was very surprised by that,” Rinehart said. “… It’s not about the person receiving the FOID card. But the parents know what is going on with their teenagers, so it is reckless for him to participate in the FOID process in this case.”

Crimo Jr. was due in court Saturday, Dec. 17, for a bond hearing.

George Gomez, attorney for Crimo Jr., told media on Friday that the charges are “absurd.”

“This decision should alarm every single parent in the United States of America who, according to the Lake County state’s attorney, knows exactly what is going on with their 19-year-old adult children and can be held criminally liable for actions taken nearly three years later,” he said. “These charges are absurd, and we will fight them every step of the way. 

“… These charges are politically motivated and a distraction from the real change that needs to happen in this country.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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