Police flagged Highland Park shooter ‘clear and present danger’ in 2019; he later cleared 4 background checks

Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, the suspect in the mass shooting that killed seven people and wounded dozens of others at a Fourth of July parade, was still able to clear state-required background checks to purchase firearms on at least four separate occasions between 2020 and 2021, the Illinois State Police said.

Robert E. Crimo, 21, has been identified as a person of interest in the July 4th parade attack in Highland Park, Illinois, in which at least seven people were killed. He was taken into police custody hours after the shooting.  

Robert E. Crimo, 21, has been identified as a person of interest in the July 4th parade attack in Highland Park, Illinois, in which at least seven people were killed. He was taken into police custody hours after the shooting.   (Highland Park Police Department)

“In September 2019, ISP received a Clear and Present Danger report on the subject from the Highland Park Police Department. The report was related to threats the subject made against his family,” Illinois State Police said in a statement posted to Twitter by a staff member for Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

The report said that when Highland Park officers went to the family’s home and asked Crimo if he felt like harming himself of others, he said no. Police said Crimo’s father claimed knives in the home belonged to him and they were being kept in Crimo’s closet for safekeeping. Based on that information, Highland Park Police returned the knives to the father that day. 

The statement said police did not make any arrests at the time and that members of the family were “not willing to move forward on a complaint.”

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Members of the family also did not “provide information on threats or mental health that would have allowed law enforcement to take additional action,” the ISP statement added.

“Additionally, no Firearms Restraining Order was filed, nor any order of protection,” ISP said.

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Law enforcement search after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022.

Law enforcement search after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Such action police could have taken included revoking a licensed-gun owner’s Firearm Owners Identification card (FOID), which is required in the state to own or purchase a firearm.

Illinois State Police said at the time of the September 2019 incident the suspect “did not have a FOID card to revoke or a pending FOID application to deny.”

Three months later, Crimo did apply and successfully obtained an FOID card, police said.

“The subject was under 21 and the application was sponsored by the subject’s father. Therefore, at the time of the FOID application review in January of 2020, there was an insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application,” police said.

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Law enforcement search after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, on Monday, July 4.

Law enforcement search after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, on Monday, July 4. (AP/Nam Y. Huh)

The suspect went on to clear four background checks when purchasing firearms on June 9, 2020; on July 18 and July 31, 2020; and on September 20, 2021.

Illinois State Police said the suspect did not have mental health prohibitor reports on his record and his only criminal offense was a possession of tobacco charge in January 2016.

Police said the suspect also had two prior incidents of suicidal and violent threats. These also did not prevent him from legally purchasing a high-powered rifle that he is believed to have used to kill seven people during the July Fourth parade.

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