This blog was written by Strengthening Chicago’s Youth’s intern Akilah Smith.
For a lot of residents of Chicago, much excitement was accompanied with the prospect of attending 4th of July activities. With recent years celebrations being contained or cancelled due to COVID-19 the knowledge that festivities such as barbecues, fairs, and celebrations to be in full effect for this summer gave everyone a day to look forward too. Unfortunately, those who planned to enjoy the parade are left mentally, emotionally, and some physically scared forever.
On the morning of July 4th, the street below filled with innocent people in attendance of the parade was alleged suspect 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III perched atop the roof of a local business with a rifle aimed at the crowd below. At approximately 10:14am shots rang near Central Avenue and 2nd street. CBS News has reported the Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesperson Chris Covelli stating that the “spectators were targeted…very random, very intentional”. The shooting stopped when Bobby noticed police officers approaching the building. With great sadness it is reported that 7 lives were lost at the hands of this violence. Chaos ensued as people attempted to run or shelter themselves from the rain of the bullets. Dozens of people ranging from 8 to 85 years old became injured in the aftermath, some being trampled in desperation to seek refuge.
A day meant to be memorable for fun was jaded by this event as cities such as Lake Forest, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights and many more cancel their scheduled celebrations for the remainder of the day out of concern for the safety of its participants as officers searched for suspect Bobby who was not found until hours later at around 6:30pm.
Identifying and locating Bobby took close to 8 hours because of his disguise. Immediately following the shooting, Bobby wore a dress, makeup to cover his tattoos and a wig and slipped into the crowd of people pretending to be an innocent civilian in order to get away and conceal his identity. After catching the attention of a police officer attempting to pull him over for a traffic stop, a chase ensues before he is apprehended in his mother’s car in Lake Forest. Investigators later revealed that there was a second weapon in the car, all guns were purchased legally despite being previously flagged by the police, and Bobby contemplated a second attack in Madison, Wisconsin.
In a court appearance on July 6th suspect Robert “Bobby” Crimo III admitted to the shooting and that he planned it for weeks before being denied bail. He is facing 7 counts of first-degree murder.
When news first broke of the incident occurring, I found myself, “Wow, that’s unfortunate” and continuing the task I was doing. It was not until later when I sat and reflected on my initial response that I realized how much was said in those 3 words. My brain automatically understanding the severity of the event yet simultaneously recalling that there has been an increase in gun violence and shootings at public events. Although the Highland Park shooting should have not occurred, I am not at all shocked by the events that transpired.
I have felt myself gradually become desensitized to the amount of gun violence in the Chicagoland area. Assuming that as soon as the temperature heightens so will the rate of lives in danger. At no point should anyone, myself included, become so used to hearing horrific details of violent endings of innocent lives that 3 words encapsulate the initial reaction. This speaks volumes about how imperative it is that we take gun reformation seriously.
Gun laws are often seen in debate for whether or not it is necessary for self-defense and safety which are both important components during that infamous debate. Accessibility is key as well. There is absolutely no reason 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III should have had access to legally buy a semi-automatic rifle when he was 19 that was sponsored by his dad, Bob Crimo Jr. After not only previous police run ins surrounding guns but also threatening to unalive both himself and loved ones. There has been a rise in school shootings. Access to guns by students or at a age when the brain isn’t even fully developed is a recipe for disaster.
In 2022 alone according to the New York Times, “The Gun Violence Archive has counted at least 330 mass shootings through the first half of July…15 involved 4 or more fatalities, including the one in Highland Park” this is a wakeup call to everyone that the time is now to take proactive steps to prevent more senseless deaths.
I send my deepest condolences, sincerest support, positivity, and kindest regards to the survivors and families of the victims.
You will be forever missed.