Highland Park parade shooting suspect dressed as a woman to blend in with crowd, police say

·Senior Writer
·2 min read

The suspect in the deadly mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Ill., fired more than 70 rounds into the crowd from a rooftop using a high-powered rifle that was purchased legally, and dressed as a woman to disguise his appearance and help him escape, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

The alleged gunman, 21-year-old Robert Crimo III of Highwood, Ill., was arrested during a traffic stop several hours after the attack, which left seven people dead and more than 30 others wounded.

At a midday press conference, Chris Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said that authorities believe Crimo was planning the attack on the parade "for several weeks." But there is no information to suggest that it was racially motivated or motivated by religion, Covelli said, adding that the attack appears to have been "completely random."

A police officer covers his face with his hands as he walks past lawn chairs and an overturned stroller and bicycle.
A police officer walks down Central Avenue in Highland Park, Ill., after a mass shooting during the Fourth of July parade. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“During the attack, Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing and investigators do believe he did this to conceal his facial tattoos and his identity and help him during the escape,” Covelli said. “He was seen on video camera in women’s clothing.”

According to police, Crimo climbed a fire escape ladder onto the roof of a business and opened fire on the spectators below.

Police said he then dropped the rifle, which he had legally purchased in Illinois, left the roof, joining the crowd fleeing the scene, and walked to his mother's home.

"He blended right in with everybody else as they were running around," Covelli said, "almost as if he was an innocent spectator."

There is no indication Crimo gave his mother any information about the attack, Covelli said. He borrowed her car, whose details were included in the alert police issued Monday afternoon. A member of the community saw the vehicle and called 911. Police located the vehicle, conducted a traffic stop and apprehended the suspect without incident, Covelli said.

Chris Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, with walkie-talkie pinned on his shoulder, speaks.
Chris Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, speaks during a press conference on Tuesday. (Yahoo! News)

A second rifle believed to have been legally purchased by Crimo was recovered from the vehicle, Covelli said. Other legally purchased firearms were found at his home.

Formal charges against Crimo are expected to be announced later Tuesday.

After authorities named Crimo as a person of interest, NBC News reported that his social media posts included "tributes to mass shootings." He also performed as a rapper named Awake, whose music videos included depictions of mass murder.

Covelli said police "were not made aware of these videos" before the shooting.