Father of July 4 shooter charged in suburban Chicago
By Brendan O’Brien and Tyler Clifford
CHICAGO (Reuters) – An Illinois father was on trial on Thursday for helping his teenage son obtain a gun he used to kill seven people at a July 4 parade near Chicago, despite indications for the younger man being mentally disturbed.
Robert Crimo Jr., wearing a suit, appeared before Judge George Strickland in a Lake County Circuit Court, where he was read the seven counts of reckless conduct recommended in a grand jury indictment the previous day.
He faces a maximum of 21 years in prison if found guilty of all charges and is scheduled to reappear on April 4.
The case appears to be the second time a parent of a teenage gunman has been prosecuted in connection with crimes allegedly committed by his child.
Last year, the parents of a teenager who shot dead four classmates at a Detroit-area high school were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors said the couple, who have pleaded not guilty, bought his son a gun despite signs he had been disturbed.
In the Highland Park, Illinois case, police said Robert Crimo III opened fire on spectators watching an Independence Day parade on July 4, killing seven and injuring dozens. He has pleaded not guilty to 117 counts, including 21 counts of first-degree murder.
The elder Crimo, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of helping his son get a state gun license in 2019 when he supported his application for a FOID (firearm owner identification) card, despite knowing his son wasn’t able to own a gun.
The younger Crimo used the FOID card to legally buy five guns between 2020 and 2021, including the gun police say he used to shoot his victims dead from a rooftop sniper post above the parade route. He was 21 years old at the time of the shooting.
Authorities have previously admitted that the accused shooter applied for a FOID card in December 2019 at the age of 19, three months after police were called to his home over a report he had threatened to kill family members.
According to law enforcement, police confiscated a collection of 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but the weapons were returned after the father told authorities they were his.
The alleged threat in September 2019 followed an earlier incident in which police responded to an 911 call reporting that the younger Crimo had attempted suicide.
The younger Crimo could not have legally applied for a FOID card in 2019 without a parent or guardian signing for him as he was under 21 at the time.
(This story has been corrected to show that he entered a not guilty plea in paragraph 7, not that he did not enter a plea.)
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Bernadette Baum)