Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting suspect’s father charged for his role in son’s obtaining gun

In 2019, when Robert E. Crimo III was still underage, Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son’s application for a state firearm owner’s identification card. That was “a contributing cause to the bodily harm suffered by the victims on July 4,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Friday.

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Robert Crimo Jr. (center), father of Robert Crimo III, as he walked out of the Lake County Courthouse in August with Denise Pesina, mother of Robert Crimo III, and attorney George Gomez.

Robert Crimo Jr. (center), father of Robert Crimo III, walks out of the Lake County Courthouse in August with Denise Pesina, mother of Robert Crimo III, and attorney George Gomez. Crimo Jr. was charged Friday. with seen counts of reckless conduct.

Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

The father of Robert E. Crimo III, the man who’s accused of the Highland Park Fourth of July parade mass shooting, has now been charged with seven counts of reckless conduct for his role in allowing his son to obtain firearms.

In 2019, when his son was underage and unable to do so on his own, Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son’s application for a state firearm owner’s identification card. In early 2020, the son was then able to obtain the FOID card despite previously having threatened to kill himself and his family.

“Robert Crimo Jr., the father, took a reckless and unjustified risk to sign his son’s application for a firearm owner’s identification card,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Friday in announcing the new charges.

Rinehart said the father faces seven counts for the seven people who were killed.

“As we all work together to address the root causes of crime, to hold shooters accountable for their crimes in the courts and to pass common sense gun regulation, we must also remember the longstanding principle that people bear responsibility when they recklessly endanger others,” Rinehart said. “These are the moral and legal foundations on which these charges rest.”

He said those who were shot “deserve decisive action from this office.”

Crimo Jr. surrendered Friday and was to make a first court appearance Saturday on the charges, which, if convicted, could see him get as much as three years in prison.

Crimo III is charged with fatally shooting seven people and wounding dozens of others who had lined the streets in downtown Highland Park on the Fourth of July for the parade.

Terrified paradegoers fled Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade after shots were fired, leaving behind their belongings as they sought safety.

Terrified paradegoers fled Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade after shots were fired, leaving behind their belongings as they sought safety.

Lynn Sweet / Sun-Times

George Gomez, a lawyer representing Crimo Jr., called the charges “baseless and unprecedented” and said: “This decision should alarm every single parent in the United States of America who, according to the Lake County state’s attorney, knows exactly what is going on with their 19-year-old adult children and can be held criminally liable for actions taken nearly three years later.

“These charges are absurd, and we will fight them every step of the way. Mr. Crimo Jr. continues to sympathize and feel terrible for the individuals and families who were injured and lost loved ones this past July 4, but these charges are politically motivated and a distraction from the real change that needs to happen in this country.”

The younger Crimo needed the FOID card to legally purchase the Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle that police and prosecutors have said he used on the Fourth of July.

“Parents and guardians are in the best position to decide whether their teenager should have a weapon,” Rinehart said. “They are the first line of defense.”

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.

Pat Nabong / Sun-Times file

Police recovered the rifle in Highland Park and found another rifle in the car that Crimo was driving when he was arrested later that day.

The two rifles were bought legally in the Chicago area, authorities said.

They have said he also had pistols in a home where he lived in nearby Highwood.

“In this case, the system failed when Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son,” Rinehart said. “He knew what he knew and signed the form anyway. This was criminally reckless and a contributing cause to the bodily harm suffered by the victims on July 4.”

In September 2019, the Highland Park police department sent officers to Crimo’s home after getting a report he’d threatened to “kill everybody.” But he and his mother denied that, and Crimo wasn’t arrested.

Police seized several knives from Crimo’s bedroom then, but his father said he, not his son, owned them, so they were returned.

Following the incident, Highland Park officers sent the Illinois State Police a “clear and present danger” report, saying Crimo admitted having a history of drug use and “to being depressed when statements were made.”

In July, after Crimo III’s arrest, Brandon Kelly, director of the Illinois State Police, said there hadn’t been enough evidence to deny him a FOID card based on the report of violent threats toward his family.

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