A CLOSE friend of the suspected July 4 parade mass shooter has revealed how he changed dramatically during Covid lockdown.
She said she was “shocked” to see Robert Crimo III was allegedly responsible for killing seven people and injuring dozens more in Highland Park.
“That wasn’t the Bobby I knew,” the friend, who wished to remain anonymous, told The US Sun.
Crimo, 22, has been charged with seven counts of murder – and more charges are expected to be filed – in connection with the July 4th parade shooting in the affluent Chicago suburb.
After his first court appearance on Wednesday, prosecutors said he immediately made a voluntary statement confessing to the attack.
His friend, who lives in the same neighborhood as Crimo’s dad and uncle, worked with him in a Panera Bread until the pandemic forced the place to close.
That’s when they began to drift apart, but they still waved and said “hi” and “bye” if they saw each other.
“He was soft-spoken and polite. If we worked late, he always waited for my parents to get me and made sure I got home,” the friend said.
After news of the shooting broke Monday, she said her friends checked on her safety and she was going to “message Bobby to see if he was OK.”
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“When I saw the police were looking for him, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I didn’t want to believe it was him. I was hoping it was someone else.
“The Bobby I knew was never violent. We shared common interests and we worked together and he was never rude to customers.”
The two friends talked about things like life goals, anime, the pandemic and Kobe Bryant, whose tragic death was plastered all over the news in March 2020.
“I’m still processing it,” Crimo III’s friend said. “I’ve been crying since I saw his face on the news. I haven’t eaten or slept since it all happened.
“My friends told me about the (YouTube) videos and social media. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t follow him on social media.
“It’s a completely different person than the Bobby I knew.”
PAUL CRIMO SPEAKS OUT
Crimo’s uncle, Paul Crimo, recalled how his nephew “wore women’s clothes at least once in the past” after cops said he fled the parade carnage wearing a wig.
“There were no warning signs. Nothing that I saw.”
Paul said he didn’t know why Robert dressed as a woman and still doesn’t understand why he would open fire on a crowd of innocent bystanders.
When asked if he had a message for anyone who was reading, he apologized to the families who were impacted.
“I feel bad for all the families. My thoughts and prayers are with all the families,” he said.
“I’m heartbroken for all of them. I’ll forever be heartbroken.”
Paul added that he knew Robert had YouTube and social media accounts but didn’t know the content of what was on them.
CHARGES AGAINST CRIMO
Crimo is accused of firing more than 70 shots at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in Illinois before evading arrest for eight hours after he took his mom’s car.
It was announced by Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart that 22-year-old Crimo is now charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and will be facing “dozens” more.
“These are just the first of many charges filed against Mr. Crimo,” Rinehart said Tuesday evening.
“We anticipate dozens more charges.”
Rinehart also said the seven counts of first-degree murder will lead to a mandatory life sentence, if convicted, without the possibility of parole.
“We will seek the maximum sentence against this offender.”
On Wednesday, Rinehart will ask a judge to hold Crimo without bail.
“We must do everything we can to make sure that the horror that marked these streets never happens again.”
During a Tuesday morning press conference, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli revealed that Crimo had two prior arrests.
In 2019, a family member alerted police that the 22-year-old was allegedly going to “kill everyone and had a collection of knives”.
State police were notified of the second incident but Crimo wasn’t arrested due to a lack of probable cause.
Cops were contacted again after learning that Crimo attempted suicide.
On Tuesday, officials revealed no children were among the dead and the suspected gunman planned the attack for several weeks.
Six of the seven deceased victims were named on Tuesday – they’re Nicolas Toledo, 76, Jacki Sundheim, 63, Stephen Straus, 88, Katherine Goldstein, 64, Irina McCarthy, 35, and Kevin McCarthy, 37
A total of 38 people, including at least four to five children, were injured by gunfire and taken to the NorthShore Hospital group, Chicago’s WGN-TV reports. As of Monday, hospital spokesman Jim Anthony told the New York Times that 28 patients of those people have since been discharged and one of them died.
Nine other patients were taken to Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest.
Covelli said Crimo accessed the rooftop of a local business via a fire escape ladder.
However, authorities have not revealed a motive for the attack.
Investigators recovered a high-powered rifle on the scene, which Covelli described as an AR-15-style weapon.
Police said Crimo walked to his mother’s house nearby and took her vehicle.
The accused shooter was arrested just after 6.40pm after a brief chase – more than eight hours after the first shots were heard.
Police recovered a second rifle inside Crimo’s vehicle.
“The shooting appears to be completely random,” Covelli added, noting that nothing points to the shooting being racially charged or aimed at a specific group.
Covelli said the rifles were obtained legally “within the region” under Crimo’s name.
Crimo was identified as a person of interest after BAFTE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) officials conducted a DNA swab test on the weapon that was found at the scene.
He was taken into custody and quizzed.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering confirmed that the suspect legally bought a gun before the shooting, Fox News reported.
It has since emerged that Crimo posted chilling videos on a YouTube channel that has since been removed and an investigation is underway.
Crimo reportedly had a verified profile on Spotify and was known as Awake the Rapper. It appears that his account has since been removed.
He released an EP earlier this year named “Brainwashed,” and some of the songs were titled “Dead Again” and “I am the Storm”.
He released three albums: Messages in 2017, Observer in 2018, and the self-titled Awake the Rapper in 2021.
Crimo’s IMDB page reveals that he started uploading music to the internet when he was 11.