/  07.07.2022

As Highland Park, Illinois residents paraded to celebrate the “…land of the free and the home of the brave,” this past Independence Day (July 4), a gunman fatally shot seven attendees and injured over three dozen other event-goers. The mass shooting’s identified suspect, Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, is now charged with seven counts of first-degree murder in connection to firing a high-powered rifle from a rooftop into the crowd, per a Highland Park Police report. Though apprehended by authorities within hours, there are persisting viral debates on whether or not Crimo displayed signs that he was a danger to his community.

Moreover, while the Constitution of the United States’ Second Amendment protects the right of persons to keep and bear arms, some people are questioning if that is doing our nation more harm than good. For context, by the time of the Highland Park mass shooting, there had already been 314 others in America this year. An investigative article by the Boston Globe documented data from the Gun Violence Archive, noting, “[The United States has] an average of about 1.7 per day. The tally includes the deadly rampage in Highland Park.” What has since been confirmed by MARCA is that “…days after the shooting in Uvalde, Texas on [the shooting suspect’s father] liked a tweet [which read] … ‘Protect the 2nd Amendment like your life depends on it.'” Subsequent images of his son are circulating the internet, in which the gunman is wearing a Trump flag as a cape.

On July 5, the newspaper further verified that the father’s “…account has all his posts deleted, although he remains a follower of only one Twitter account, an old account of former US President Donald Trump.” Also, ahead of Katherine Goldstein, Irina McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy, Jacquelyn Sundheim, Stephen Straus, and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza being named as victims of this domestic terrorism, the gunman was photographed at one of Former President Trump’s rallies. He attended this GOP event dressed as the lead character from the children’s puzzle book series “Where’s Waldo?” His ambiguous nature has invited deeper investigation into similar behaviors, which potentially highlights that Crimo has attempted to hide in plain sight more than once.

Claim: Does the Highland Park mass shooter have a history of violent behavior?

Rating: True.

On the day of the shooting, Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing and wore a black wig, seemingly to conceal his identity. Upon review of his online records, it is evident that he was inquisitive about acts of violence. According to NPR, “On Discord, he shared a photo of Budd Dwyer, a politician who killed himself during a live press conference. And he apparently posted thousands of times to an online forum dedicated to sharing violent photos and videos of people dying.” Additionally, Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and an expert on domestic extremism, told the website, “It was pretty clear that this suspect had a history online of glorifying and fantasizing about violence … that sends a red flag on top of a red flag.” Virtually, Crimo’s profiles show support among white nationalist ideologies.

For example, VICE published that his “Discord channel was also called ‘SS’ which may be a reference to Hitler’s personal bodyguard troop.” To add, the suspect was known to record music as “Awake the Rapper.” Following being globally broadcasted via updates on the Highland Park mass shooting, Crimo’s social media accounts and associated artist pages’ engagement increased before the platforms stripped them of their content. The Daily Beast registered that social media users and digital viewers noticed a recurring symbol: “On most of Crimo’s social-media pages, and embedded in several of his [music] videos, is a symbol that roughly resembles [what is] used by Suomen Sisu, a far-right Finnish organization.”

Additional media outlets, such as The Focus, recorded, “Crimo’s social media contained images depicting violence, shootings, American flags, MAGA merch … [and an] image [that] looked a lot like the Suomen Sisu symbol, which has been co-opted by the Finnish far-right association as its logo.” Even so, these findings are not a matter of speculation. The Suomen Sisu self-identifies as “…a Finnish nationalist movement which objects to the current multiculturalist and globalist tendencies and supports the preservation of national states and European heritage.” Crimo’s public usage of these associated symbols and their comparative likeness to those of this movement is one indication of white supremacy.

Historically, conservative crusades have repeatedly roused consequences for the liberated. Validating this sentiment, the “Types Of Terrorism” page by Britannica pinpointed another form of right-wing awakened terrorism and recapitulated: “After the American Civil War … defiant Southerners formed the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate supporters of Reconstruction (1865–77) and the newly freed former [enslaved peoples] … The 20th century witnessed great changes in the use and practice of terror. It became the hallmark of a number of political movements stretching from the extreme right … Technological advances, such as automatic weapons and compact, electrically detonated explosives, gave terrorists a new mobility and lethality…”

With acknowledgment of that chronology, it is imaginably helpful to document that David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and an elected Republican from the Louisiana House of Representatives, said, “…voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage” on his radio show. Duke is correspondingly the author of several Suomen Sisu readings. Though founded over 150 years ago, this KKK outlook concerning the majority and Duke’s widespread endorsement was not denounced by Former President Trump or all multitudes of his supporters. And despite these standpoints, approximately 90 percent of Highland Park’s locals are white, according to the most recent United States Census Bureau estimate.

To fully unpack what happened in that suburban community earlier this week will require time. However, it is documented that Crimo had two encounters with law enforcement ahead of the mass shooting — one of which was for attempted suicide. What has also been substantiated by The Washington Post is that he previously “…so alarmed his family with violent threats in 2019 [that] they summoned police, who confiscated more than a dozen knives … from his home…” after the Independence Day attack. Christopher Covelli, a Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman, told the publication that Crimo stated “…he was going to kill everyone.” No resulting charges were pressed. Afterward, he was approved for a gun license.

In conjunction, CNN added that though Crimo’s weapons were legally obtained, “…investigators found the three [firearm] magazines and 83 spent shell casings…” at the location where the shots were fired. These discoveries compile with the abundance of evidence found against him. The World division of the United Kindom’s i News established, “Police said they did not know the motive for the shooting. The victims range in age from eight to 85, including four or five children.” His current charges may not be the extent of his consequences. Rolling Stone corroborated “…more charges are expected to be brought against him, including attempted murder and aggravated battery (if convicted on just the murder charges, Crimo would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole). Crimo has not yet entered a plea. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 28.

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