Law enforcement has yet to establish a motive, but Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli said there has been no information to suggest the attack was racially motivated, motivated by religion, or any other protected status. Publicly available information gathered from Crimo’s social media accounts suggests that Crimo had a predilection towards violence and gore and a strong affinity for the numbers “4” and “7”. Early theories indicate that the date of July 4th (7/4) may have been a motivating factor in the attack. Analysis of Crimo’s digital footprint suggests that this attack was likely not motivated by any ideology or specific grievance, but was the result of a highly disturbed and mentally unstable individual.
Timeline of Events
The July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois began at 10:00 AM CDT near the intersection of Laurel and St. John’s Avenue. About 14 minutes later, at the intersection of Central Avenue and Second Street, the suspect opened fire from atop a nearby store. According to law enforcement, the suspect fired 83 rounds from a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 AR-15-style rifle onto the crowd below. In videos taken during the shooting, at least two volleys of gunfire can be heard.
After the shooting, the suspect reportedly climbed back down the fire escape that he initially used to gain access to the roof and dropped his rifle into a red blanket behind the Ross store at 625 Central Avenue. The suspect, disguised in women’s clothing and makeup, then left the scene on foot, blending in with fleeing parade-goers.
The suspect then walked home to his mother’s house where he borrowed her vehicle, a silver 2010 Honda Fit. At this time, it is not known how long Crimo stayed at his mother’s house.
According to Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli, Crimo drove to Wisconsin after committing the shooting and "seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting in Madison".1 Instead, he went back to Illinois, dumping his phone in Middleton, Wisconsin, on his way.
Approximately eight hours after the shooting, at 6:15 PM CDT, the suspect was apprehended by law enforcement in North Chicago following a short vehicle pursuit. A citizen reportedly called 911 after seeing Crimo driving and recognizing him from images released by law enforcement. Police recovered a second rifle (a Kel-Tec Sub2000) from Crimo inside of his vehicle when he was captured.
Investigators were able to identify Crimo as a person of interest through a combination of video and expedited tracing of the recovered rifle by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Crimo has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, one for each of the seven people killed. At least 38 people were also wounded in the shooting. At Crimo's bond hearing Wednesday morning, prosecutors said, after his arrest Monday night, Crimo confessed to the shootings; as well as to dressing in women's clothing and covering his facial tattoos in makeup to avoid being recognized.
Robert Crimo III
Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, 21, lived in an apartment behind his parents’ house in Highland Park, Illinois. Crimo reportedly suffered from mental illness and had previously threatened to hurt himself and others. According to officials, local police were called to Crimo’s house at least twice in 2019. In April of that year, police responded due to reports that Crimo had attempted suicide earlier in the week. Five months later, in September, police reportedly seized several edged weapons from Crimo after a family member reported that he threatened to “kill everyone”.
Crimo, an amateur rapper, went by the stage name “Awake the Rapper”. An IMDb page under Crimo’s name identifies him as a “rapper, singer, songwriter, actor and director” from the Chicago area. The page boasts one of his songs released in 2018 amassed “millions of plays.” He released a music video titled “Are You Awake” in October 2021 that included drawings of a man aiming a rifle at a person and other violent depictions of shootings. According to his Spotify page, he put together three albums, in 2017, 2018, and 2021 where he amassed 16,466 average monthly listeners.
Crimo had an extensive social media presence that reportedly featured frequent references to mental illness, violence, and extremist ideologies. He was active on at least nine social media platforms, where he appeared to document portions of his planning process for the July 4 attack.2
Crimo also notably hosted his own Discord server where he and others shared nihilistic political memes, as well as occasional references to violence and suicide. He was also reportedly active on an online forum dedicated to sharing graphic depictions of violence and death known as “Documenting Reality”. According to the New York Post, some recent posts from Crimo’s account on Documenting Reality featured anti-semitic and racist commentary, specifically calling for violence against Asians and Black people.3
Individuals online quickly pointed out that the birthday of the profile on the forum match that given out by law enforcement.
The Numbers 4 and 7 and “Project Arcturus”
Additionally, Crimo appears to have an affinity for the numbers “4” and “7” and typically used the username “Awake47” for his social media accounts. Crimo had the number “47” tattooed on his face and had the numbers painted on his personal vehicle.
It is unknown what significance the numbers had for Crimo, but some early theories suggest that it may have been part of an alternate reality game (ARG) that he had created. On February 19, 2021, Crimo reportedly published a 25-page book on Amazon called “Arcturus”.4 Although the book has since been removed from Amazon, the contents were allegedly a series of undeciphered numbers.5
Accompanied with the book was a YouTube video called “Project Arcturus” which showed a drawing of someone wearing a helmet and straps across his back and chest while gunning people down with a rifle. The video also featured Crimo in body armor while standing in a school.
Given that much of Crimo’s online presence has been deleted since the attack, it is difficult to confirm the legitimacy of the book or the contents of the ARG.