Highland Park suspect’s father to be investigated for signing gun application

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Cheney Orr/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Cheney Orr/Reuters

The father of the Highland Park gunman will be criminally investigated in connection with the Independence Day attack for signing an affidavit supporting his son’s application for a gun license, police said.

Robert Crimo Jr, the father of Robert Crimo III – who is suspected of killing seven people at a Fourth of July parade in a suburb of Chicago – sponsored his son’s firearm owner application in 2019.

Speaking to media before the announcement of the investigation into him, Crimo Jr denied any responsibility for the attack. “I had no – not an inkling, warning – that this was going to happen,” Crimo told ABC News.

In Illinois, individuals must be at least 21 to independently obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID), which is generally needed to legally own a gun.

Anyone under 21 can apply for a FOID with the written consent of a parent or legal guardian who is not prohibited from having a FOID card themselves.

In doing so, they agree to be held liable for “any damages resulting from the minor applicant’s use of firearms or firearm ammunition”.

Illinois state police confirmed on Wednesday that Crimo signed off on his son’s application in December 2019 despite his son having two previous encounters with local police, including one in September 2019 where he allegedly threatened to “kill everybody” in his family.

During that visit, police confiscated a number of weapons in the alleged gunman’s possession, including 16 knives, a dagger and a sword.

The weapons were later returned to the family, however, after Crimo Jr claimed they were his, not his son’s, and were just being stored in his son’s room for safekeeping.

On Monday, Robert Crimo III killed seven people and injured more than 40 during a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois. Currently held on seven counts of first-degree murder, if convicted, the gunman faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Police said on Thursday that he also considered attacking another parade in Madison, Wisconsin, but drove back to Illinois instead, where he was later arrested at the wheel of his mother’s car.

Crimo Jr has acknowledged that he signed off on the gun application for his son noting that his son was approved after going through background checks.

“They do background checks. Whatever that entails, I’m not exactly sure. And either you’re approved or denied, and he was approved,” Crimo told ABC.

He said he did not regret sponsoring the firearm application, saying his son later obtained various firearms before the Independence Day attack himself.

“Do I regret that? No, not three years ago – signing a consent form to go through the process … that’s all it was,” Crimo said. “Had I purchased guns throughout the years and given them to him in my name, that’s a different story. But he went through that whole process himself.”

He added he was not worried about the legal consequences of signing off on his son’s application, saying his son “has good morals” and was not raised in an abusive environment.

He also said he spoke to his son just a few hours before the massacre about a different mass shooting at a mall in Copenhagen, Denmark. Crimo Jr said his son called the Copenhagen shooter “an idiot”.

“He goes, ‘Yeah, that guy is an idiot.’ That’s what he said,” Crimo Jr told the New York Post.

The investigation into Crimo Jr follows a recent case in Michigan in which the parents of a 15-year-old Michigan boy who killed four classmates and injured seven people in November 2021 were charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the massacre.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are accused of gross neglect for gifting the gun used in the mass shooting to their son, and for failing to intervene after their son exhibited signs of mental distress at school and at home.

The Highland Park massacre was just one of 13 mass shootings (defined as events in which four or more people died) across the US over the Fourth of July weekend.

On Thursday, police in Virginia claimed to have foiled yet another planned mass shooting on Independence Day, after receiving an anonymous tip from a caller who said he overhead two men planning a shooting spree at the Dogwood Dell Amphitheater, a local entertainment venue in Richmond. The men have been detained with multiple assault rifles and more than 200 rounds of ammunition in their possession.