HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois – A man taken into custody in connection with a deadly attack on a Chicago-area July Fourth celebration that killed six people appears to be an aspiring rapper who posted videos depicting disturbing acts of violence.
Authorities spent frantic hours Monday searching for Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III and took him into custody shortly before 7 p.m. local time following a short pursuit about five miles away from the shooting. No charges were announced.
Authorities initially said Crimo was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo’s social media said he was 21.
A North Chicago police officer spotted and briefly chased Crimo in nearby Lake Forest and “the subject was taken into custody without incident,” Highland Park police Chief Lou Jogmen said. “This doesn’t necessarily mean this is over but we are certainly encouraged that we have a person of interest.”
Television news video showed a silver Honda Fit – which authorities said Crimo was driving – stopped at an intersection, doors open. Police had said Crimo was likely armed and dangerous
“This individual is believed to have been responsible for what happened,” said Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli in announcing Crimo’s arrest. Covelli said a “significant amount of digital evidence” helped lead investigators to Crimo.
LIVE UPDATES:Shooting rampage at Highland Park July 4th parade
Who is Robert Crimo?
Authorities say the shooter fired from a rooftop into the crowd around 10 a.m. and that they recovered a rifle from the scene. They initially stopped short of calling Crimo a suspect, describing him instead as a “person of interest,” but said the FBI was offering a reward for information.
A Chicago-based rapper of the same name and fitting the description given by police, including facial tattoos, performs under the name “Awake the Rapper” and has previously posted on YouTube and other platforms multiple videos of violent images, including a man with a rifle shooting people.
Another video he posted showed a cartoon character carrying a rifle later laying facedown in a pool of blood, surrounded by police officers. That same artist appeared to have posted a picture of a newspaper clipping on his bedroom wall referencing the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President John F. Kennedy with a rifle from an elevated location.
A two-story home listed as Crimo’s address was surrounded by law enforcement vehicles Monday evening. Several police cars and at least one armored vehicle were stationed outside, and journalists were being kept well away from the area. Neighbors said Crimo’s father, Bob Crimo, owned the nearby restaurant Bob’s Pantry & Deli.
Violent videos may be connected to man arrested in parade shooting
Violent videos that appear to be connected to Crimo were removed from YouTube in the hours after the shooting. The account posting the videos was suspended, but YouTube did not immediately return USA TODAY’s request for comment.
In a video for the Awake the Rapper song “Out of This World,” drawings depict a gunman wearing a tactical vest and carrying a semi-automatic rifle, bodies on the ground around him. As he aims, a faceless figure raises its hands in surrender. The gunman wears a helmet, with what appears to be a Go-Pro style camera attached. Other images of seemingly anguished characters appear as the voice raps, “I just want to scream. Sometimes it feels like I’m living a dream.”
In another video posted by the same account, the images come in quick cuts, scrawled drawings of faceless characters interspersed with clips of a young man sitting on a bed, wearing a baseball cap. Then the drawn images shift to showing a character holding a semi-automatic rifle. Another faceless character appears to have blood emerging from its chest.
A young man who appears to be the same person with the ballcap then appears in a new outfit. He’s in a classroom setting, with blackboards on the walls, a row of lockers and a television mounted high above the doorway. An American flag hangs from a pole, and the man is wearing a helmet and a tactical vest.
The quick-cut video clips repeat, but the scenes in the classroom shift perspective. One shot shows the room from his perspective – but it is only wide enough for two sets of school-style desks side-by-side, in three rows, six desks in all. It’s unclear if the setting is a real school classroom or an elaborately staged set.
Next, the helmeted figure is at the lockers. Then he appears without his tactical gear, simply in the ballcap again. Next, in the tactical gear again, he kneels over a pile of papers on the floor, clutching at his eyes. In another shot, the helmeted figure sits at one of the desks, at work on a sheet of notebook paper in front of him. A snaking tattoo is visible across the back of his neck.
Contributing: Andrea Ball, Josh Susong, USA TODAY; The Associated Press