By Brendan O'Brien and Tom Polansek
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (Reuters) - The man accused of opening fire on a July Fourth parade near Chicago was charged on Tuesday with seven counts of murder, as police revealed they had reported him as posing a "clear and present danger" after alleged threats to his family in 2019.
Robert E. Crimo III, 21, is suspected of shooting his victims from a sniper's perch on a rooftop above the parade in the suburb of Highland Park, Illinois.
He would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted, Illinois state attorney Eric Reinhart said.
Reinhart said the first-degree murder charges would be followed by "dozens of more charges" and that he would ask that Crimo remain held in custody without bail at the suspect's first court appearance, scheduled for Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear if Crimo had a lawyer.
Crimo had planned the attack for weeks, officials said on Tuesday.
They said he fired more than 70 rounds at random into the crowd watching Monday's parade, and that he was dressed in women's clothes to help conceal his identity and blend in with the panic-stricken crowd as he fled.
"He blended right in with everybody else as they were running around, almost as if he was an innocent spectator as well," said Sergeant Chris Covelli, a spokesperson for the Lake County Sheriff's office, adding that the suspect has distinctive facial tattoos.
In addition to the seven victims killed by gunfire, more than three dozen people were treated in hospitals for gunshot wounds and other injuries.
Covelli said Crimo had two previous encounters with law enforcement - an April 2019 emergency-911 call reporting that he had attempted suicide and another in September of that year regarding alleged threats "to kill everyone" that he had directed at family members.
Police responding to the second incident seized a collection of 16 knives, a dagger and a sword amassed by Crimo in his home, though no arrest was made as authorities at the time lacked probable cause to take him into custody, Covelli said.
"There were no complaints that were signed by any of the victims," Covelli said.
But a state "red flag" system, designed to allow police to seek a court order to seize weapons from people who are deemed to present a danger to themselves or others, appeared to have broken down.
Among those killed in Monday's attack were Nicholas Toledo, a grandfather from Mexico in his 70s celebrating with his family among the flag-waving crowds, and Jacki Sundheim, a teacher at a nearby synagogue.
The shooting took place in a neighborhood with a large Jewish population, but police had no immediate evidence of any anti-Semitic or racist basis. Investigators were reviewing videos Crimo had posted on social media containing violent imagery.
The suspect used a high-powered rifle for the attack, similar to an AR-15, which he dropped at the scene.
He had a similar rifle in his mother's car, which he was driving when police took him into custody, and owned other guns, all of which were bought legally in Illinois, officials said.
In all, Crimo had purchased five firearms, including rifles and pistols.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said the community of 30,000 was in shock
"This tragedy should have never arrived at our doorsteps," she told NBC News. "As a small town, everybody knows somebody who was affected by this directly and, of course, we are all still reeling."
President Joe Biden ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff in mourning until sunset on Saturday.
A recent string of deadly mass shootings, including an attack in which 19 school children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, just 10 days after 10 people were slain in a supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, has renewed debate about gun safety in America.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month asserted a constitutional right to carry weapons in public in a ruling that made it easier for pro-gun groups to overturn modern gun regulations. It has since thrown out a lower court ruling upholding Maryland's ban on assault weapons.
Congress last month passed its first major federal gun reform in three decades, providing federal funding to states that administer "red flag" laws.
The law does not ban sales of assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines but does take some steps on background checks by allowing access to information on significant crimes committed by juveniles.
Rotering, the mayor of Highland Park, said she knew the suspect when he was a little boy and a Cub Scout and she was a Cub Scout leader.
"What happened? How did somebody become this angry, this hateful?" she said. "Our nation needs to have a conversation about these weekly events involving the murder of dozens of people with legally obtained guns."
The suspect's father, Bob Crimo, ran Bob's Pantry and Deli in Highland Park for at least 18 years, according to a Chicago Tribune business profile. Bob Crimo closed the deli in 2019 before he unsuccessfully ran against Rotering for mayor.
Online social media posts written by the suspect or under his rapper alias, "Awake The Rapper," often depicted violent images or messages.
One music video posted to YouTube under Awake The Rapper showed drawings of a stick figure holding a rifle in front of another figure spread on the ground.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien and Tom Polansek; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh, Jonathan Allen, Tyler Clifford, Christopher Gallagher, Christopher Walljasper and Doina Chiacu; writing by Jonathan Allen and Steve Gorman; editing by Aurora Ellis and Bill Berkrot)
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It’s not just the House Select Committee on January 6 that wants a better look at many of those involved in Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Thanks to their wide-ranging activities in many states, investigations are going on at the local, state, and federal level into actions that Trump’s team took in attempting to reverse the will of the American people.
No state may have borne more of Trump’s focused fury than Georgia. President Joe Biden carried the state by over 12,500 votes, making it second to Arizona when it comes to the the narrowest margin of victory. This was far outside the realm of possible change that might be addressed by a recount, but Georgia conducted a recount anyway. When that didn’t make things any better for Trump, he requested that Georgia count a third time, which it did. Trump still lost, and by a bigger number than ever.
But Trump wasn’t done with Georgia. Right up until January 6, Trump’s team tried every possible way to steal Georgia’s electoral votes. And now some of the most familiar names in MAGA land are getting hauled before a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia. That includes Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and attorney John Eastman.
An incomplete list of how Trump attempted to overturn the results in Georgia includes:
- An “absurd” lawsuit that was blasted by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp as being nothing more than a collection of lies that had been flatly rejected in other states. (That lawsuit was actually withdrawn the morning of January 6.)
- Trump’s call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump was caught on tape asking for Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to defeat Biden, and threatening the official if he didn’t come through for Trump.
- Giuliani appeared three times before Georgia state legislators, spreading claims of voter fraud he knew were unfounded and encouraging them to take control of the election process and simply ignore the votes.
- Eastman also appeared before a legislative hearing and argued that there was “more than enough” evidence of voter fraud and that it was the “duty” of the legislators to appoint alternative electors.
- Drafting a slate of 16 fake electors who then pretended to be the “lawfully elected electors” of the state and submitted false documents to Congress.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham called Raffensperger and urged him to simply toss out mail-in ballots in counties that favored Biden.
- Trump, Giuliani, Powell, and a cast of dozens if not hundreds went on to insist that Kemp and Raffensperger were part of an international plot to deny Trump a repeat visit to the White House.
Now, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Trump’s team is going to get another day in court, but not the day they wanted.
The grand jury has subpoenaed Giuliani, Graham, and Eastman, along Trump advisers Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Jenna Ellis. They’ve also subpoenaed conspiracy-mongering podcast host Jacki Pick Deason.
Giuliani, Eastman, Mitchell, Chesebro, and Ellis are all expected to argue attorney-client privilege when it comes to their conversations with Trump. However, this can’t protect Giuliani or Eastman when it comes to their own claims before the legislature, especially since it is now clear they were aware their claims of election fraud were unfounded. When it comes to Graham … well, nothing can justify Lindsey Graham.
State officials who went along with the false elector scheme are also likely to see subpoenas.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
A Republican House candidate for a competitive seat in northwest Ohio said Monday that mass shootings are an acceptable price to pay for his right to own guns.
"I don't care if countries in Europe have less shootings because they don't have guns. I care about THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and OUR 2nd Amendment Rights," Republican J.R. Majewski tweeted Monday evening. "I think Americans stopped caring what Europe thought of our country in 1776."
Majewski made the comments after a mass shooting at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, a wealthy suburb of Chicago.
Majewski is running in Ohio's 9th Congressional District, a formerly safe Democratic seat President Joe Biden carried by a nearly 20-point margin in the 2020 presidential election that is newly competitive after redistricting carried out by the Republican-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission. The polling organization FiveThirtyEight now says the district has a 6-point Republican lean.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the House, touts Majewski as one of its top House nominees in the 2022 midterms. Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Majewski.
Proclaiming that mass shootings are an acceptable price to pay for the right to own guns in the United States is only the latest controversy Majewski has created during his run for office.
Majewski bragged about being at the U.S. Capitol during the deadly insurrection by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021.
He said he spent $20,000 to transport 30 "patriots" to attend the "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol in order to block certification of Biden's victory and keep Trump in power.
Majewski is an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory that, as the polling organization Ipsos put it in a poll it carried out in December 2020, "A group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media." The FBI calls QAnon a domestic terror threat. Majewski wears clothing adorned with QAnon logos and uses QAnon phrases in social media posts.
Majewski rose to prominence after he painted a Trump 2020 sign on his front lawn.
"Let's go Brandon" has developed into a euphemism that those on the right use for "Fuck Joe Biden."
Majewski faces incumbent Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who has served in Congress since 1983.
The Cook Political Report rates the race a toss-up.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.
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