Suspect in Highland Park massacre pleads not guilty to 117 criminal charges

Robert E. Crimo III pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 117 criminal charges filed against him after he allegedly fired from a rooftop during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, killing seven people and wounding 48 others.

The plea was entered by Crimo’s attorney during a brief court hearing in Lake County. Crimo himself answered “yes” to several questions from the judge on whether he understood the case against him.

Crimo was indicted two weeks ago on the charges. They include three counts for each person who died, and counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery for each person wounded that day.

He faces natural life in prison if convicted of two or more of the murder charges.

During an initial court hearing two days after the shooting, prosecutors said Crimo had confessed that he fired more than 80 rounds from a rooftop into a crowd of spectators lining the downtown parade route.

Dozens of mourners gather for a vigil in downtown Highland Park, one day after a gunman killed seven people and wounded dozens more at a Fourth of July parade.

Dozens of mourners gather for a vigil near Central Avenue and St. Johns Avenue in downtown Highland Park, one day after a gunman killed seven people and wounded dozens more by firing a semiautomatic rifle from a rooftop onto a crowd attending Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

On the day of the attack, Crimo dressed in women’s clothing and wore makeup to cover his face tattoos because he feared he would be recognized, prosecutors have said.

Surveillance video allegedly shows Crimo walking down an alley behind a building at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Second Street and climbing a fire escape to reach the roof.

Police found 83 shell casings. Paramedics took 52 people to hospitals and five people died at the parade, according to an ambulance report. Two people died later at hospitals.

Despite his disguise, police officers familiar with Crimo identified him in still images taken from surveillance cameras after the shooting, prosecutors said.

Video shows Crimo running down the alley with a bag over his shoulder, and dropping a rifle wrapped in a cloth, prosecutors said. Police recovered the weapon within minutes and traced it to Crimo, who had purchased it in 2020 when he was 19.

Crimo went to his mother’s nearby home and took off in her car as police launched a manhunt. He drove to Madison, Wisconsin, where he spotted a group of people and thought about shooting them with a second rifle in the car, authorities have said.

Crimo had about 60 rounds in the car with him, but he apparently felt he hadn’t put enough “thought and research” into opening fire, authorities said.

He turned back, dumped his cellphone in nearby Middleton and was finally spotted Monday evening in North Chicago, about eight hours after the shooting. He was arrested around 5:30 p.m. after a brief car chase.

The victims who died are: Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacki Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88, all of Highland Park; Nicolas Toledo, 78, of Morelos, Mexico; and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan.

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