Highland Park parade shooting suspect's father says he is not culpable for son's attack

Robert Crimo, Jr. says shooting took him 'by complete surprise.'

ByStephanie Wash and Victor Ordonez ABCNews logo
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Highland Park parade shooting suspect's father speaks out
Robert Crimo, Jr., the father of Highland Park parade shooting suspect Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, spoke exclusively to ABC News, saying his son was raised with "good morals."

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. -- The father of the alleged Highland Park parade shooter, Bobby Crimo Jr., has told ABC News that he is not culpable in the Independence Day attack, in spite of having signed a consent form for his son to apply for gun ownership.

"I had no -- not an inkling, warning -- that this was going to happen," Crimo told ABC News about the Fourth of July attack his son, Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, carried out in Highland Park, Il. "I am just shocked."

A photo of the Highland Park suspect's father, Robert Crimo Jr., which he posted on social media after announcing his run for mayor of Highland Park, Illinois, in 2018.
Robert Crimo Jr./Facebook

Crimo claims both he and his wife asked their son just days before if he had any plans for the holiday. "He said 'no.' That was it," Crimo recalled.

The suspect's father says he spent nearly an hour with his son in his yard the night before the attack talking about the planet. "Great mood," he remembered. "I'm just shocked."

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Crimo says he never saw his son as a danger to anyone, but authorities recently disclosed past instances of violence. In 2019, police in Highland Park confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the suspect's home after a family member called claiming he "was going to kill everyone."

"Making threats to the family ... I think [that was] taken out of context," Crimo said about authorities' description of the 2019 incident. "It's like just a child's outburst, whatever he was upset about, and I think his sister called the police -- I wasn't living there." Crimo said police removed his son's knife collection from the home, after he was asked if there were any weapons in the house.

Authorities did not open a criminal investigation.

Later that same year, Crimo signed an affidavit allowing Crimo III to apply to obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card -- needed in the state of Illinois to purchase firearms or ammunition.

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"I filled out the consent form to allow my son to go through the process that the Illinois State Police have in place for an individual to obtain a FOID card," Crimo said. "They do background checks. Whatever that entails, I'm not exactly sure. And either you're approved or denied, and he was approved."

On Wednesday, Illinois State Police announced there will be a criminal investigation into Crimo's culpability because he sponsored his son's application for a firearm owner identification card in 2019.

"Do I regret that? No, not three years ago -- signing a consent form to go through the process ... that's all it was," said Crimo, adding that he is not worried about potential legal consequences. "Had I purchased guns throughout the years and given them to him in my name, that's a different story. But he went through that whole process himself." Crimo said his son purchased the weapons with his own money and registered them in his own name.

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Crimo claims he had no involvement with him purchasing weapons and learned of his son's firearm collection when he displayed a "Glock handgun" he purchased on his 21st birthday. "Oh, looks nice," he says he told Crimo III.

Crimo III's FOID card was renewed in 2021 without the involvement of his father, according to authorities.

Crimo says he does not know the motive behind his son's actions. "That's what I'd like to ask him when I see him," said Crimo. "Whatever was going on in his head at the time ... to go kill and hurt innocent people is just senseless." Crimo says his "heart goes out to all of the families that were affected."

Crimo III killed seven people and injured dozens of others in the attack.

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"I think about them all the time," his father told ABC News. "I even had some people that were injured that I personally know."

Prior to the shooting, Crimo's son left a trail of disturbing images online -- including depictions of shootings. He was also an amateur rapper with a little over 16,000 monthly listeners on Spotify; his last music release featured an album cover of a cartoon character aiming a gun.

"The online content I'm not aware of till recently," said Crimo, adding that he saw his son as an "artist," but did not always understand his work. "Maybe I've seen a couple of them in the past, and I'd look at them and go 'that's not you,' because I know it's like an act."

Crimo denied rumors of his son suffering abuse at home. "Never, never," he said, and he added that he and his wife are "very much against it."

"I kept hearing all this stuff about ... horrible parenting," Crimo said. "He wasn't raised that way. He has good morals," he added.

"This isn't Bobby," Crimo said of his son's actions. "I guess that's why it's so hard to wrap yourself around it. It doesn't add up."

Crimo III is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and more charges are expected, Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said. Prosecutors said that Crimo III confessed to Monday morning's parade massacre. He did not enter a plea during a bond hearing on Wednesday. He is being held without bond and is set to return to court for a preliminary hearing on July 28.

Crimo said the whole system needs to be overhauled, to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. "We need to come together as a community here in the country to come up with something, whether it's new laws, guidelines ... this country is our problem right here."