Highland Park Fourth of July parade attack: Shooting suspect’s father not in the clear yet, police say

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly confirmed an ongoing criminal investigation regarding Robert Crimo III’s FOID application

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Highland Park Fourth of July parade suspect Robert Crimo III legally bought the gun he allegedly used to shoot dozens of people Monday, but investigators are looking into what role his father and home life may have played leading up to the incident.

In remarks Wednesday, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said an investigation was underway but said issues of potential liability and culpability for the suspect’s father would be settled in court and not by investigators.

"There’s probably going to be a civil litigation," he said. "There is ongoing criminal prosecution, criminal investigation…That determination and the answer to that question is something that will have to be decided in court."

Crimo, also known as "Awake the Rapper" is accused of climbing atop a roof above the parade route Monday and unloading more than 80 rounds on innocent spectators, killing at least seven and injuring dozens, according to the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

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Illinois State Police say Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son's application for a Firearm Owner Identification card in 2019, three years before Robert Crimo III was accused of opening fire on a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

Illinois State Police say Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son's application for a Firearm Owner Identification card in 2019, three years before Robert Crimo III was accused of opening fire on a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. (Facebook, Highland Park Police)

"Issues of culpability, liability, who may have responsibility in certain circumstances, are all part and parcel of that process so making a conclusionary statement and Illinois State Police weighing in on that is not appropriate for us," Kelly said. "That process has to weigh out, the court process."

Legal experts from around the country are watching the case closely.

"A criminal case here would be an uphill battle, to put it lightly," Duncan Levin, the managing partner of the New York law firm Levin and Associates who has represented disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and convicted con-woman Anna "Delvey" Sorokin, told Fox News Digital. "My suspicion is that opening an investigation here is more political than anything else."

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Despite two police visits to the family’s home in 2019, one involving a threat of suicide and the other an alleged threat to kill his family, the elder Crimo signed an affidavit that allowed his then-19-year-old son to apply for a state Firearms Ownership ID card, or FOID.

FOID cards are mandatory for Illinois residents who wish to legally own firearms, and applicants under the age of 21 must also submit a parent’s written and notarized consent to apply.

State police guidelines require that a person must have "been adjudicated by a court as a mental defective or ordered by a court, board or authorized entity to in-patient or out-patient mental health treatment" to be ruled ineligible for a FOID card. Other disqualifications include conviction of a firearms offense or domestic battery, or any felonies.

Robert Crimo III pictured in women's clothing during the Fourth of July parade attack.

Robert Crimo III pictured in women's clothing during the Fourth of July parade attack. (Lake County Major Crime Task Force)

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The two police calls resulted in no charges against the younger Crimo, and therefore he had no disqualifying convictions on his record when he applied for the card, according to authorities.

He also posed no "clear and present danger" under the word of the law.

The elder Crimo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

He told ABC News Wednesday that he wasn’t worried about an investigation.

"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," he said. "They do background checks. Whatever that entails, I'm not exactly sure. And either you're approved or denied, and he was approved."

Robert Crimo III, 21, was taken into police custody after a car chase.

Robert Crimo III, 21, was taken into police custody after a car chase. (Katherine Rappel)

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A parental affidavit form posted to the state’s Firearm Service’s Bureau website requires the sponsor to certify that they are not prohibited from holding a FOID card themselves. They must also give consent for the minor applicant to "possess and acquire" firearms and assume responsibility "for any damages resulting from the minor applicant’s use of firearms." 

Crimo III was 21 years old at the time of Monday’s attack and no longer a minor.

If it was just a consent form, Levin said, then the father is probably not as responsible for the suspected killer’s weapons as the investigators who allowed him to obtain a FOID card and later pass several background checks that let him purchase at least four guns in the past two years.

In a video feed from the Lake County, Ill., jail Robert E. Crimo III appears before Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak in his initial court appearance Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Waukegan, Ill. Crimo is accused of killing seven people during a mass shooting during a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Ill.  

In a video feed from the Lake County, Ill., jail Robert E. Crimo III appears before Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak in his initial court appearance Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Waukegan, Ill. Crimo is accused of killing seven people during a mass shooting during a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Ill.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, Pool)

"The devil’s in the details in what he signed," he said, referring to the father’s affidavit. "Seems like a very high bar to hold the father responsible in any way based on just this form."

READ AN UN-FILLED OUT CONSENT FORM:

The investigation itself could be an "attempt at blame-shifting," he warned, although government agencies in most cases are shielded from liability.

The phrasing of the affidavit form indicates that if Crimo III had conducted the attack while still a minor, his father could have been civilly liable but not vulnerable to criminal prosecution, according to Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor who has been following the case.

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"And because the permit was renewed when Robert Crimo was an adult, civil liability as a matter of law doesn't apply," he said. "That doesn't mean that Bob isn't responsible for damages caused by his son – it's just not automatic."

State police released documents Wednesday evening pertaining to Crimo III’s alleged threats to kill his family before he ever obtained a FOID card. The complainant, whose name is redacted in the report, "was afraid to go home due to the nature of this threat."

Police in Highland Park, an affluent suburb outside Chicago, confiscated more than a dozen knives, a dagger and a "samurai-type blade" from the suspect’s closet. The family declined to press charges and the elder Crimo told police the weapons belonged to him not his son, so police returned them hours later, according to authorities.

READ THE POLICE REPORT:

City police sent a "clear and present danger report" to the state after the incident, but authorities said that without charges or direct evidence, there was "insufficient information" to block Crimo III from later obtaining a FOID card or guns.

"According to the report that was submitted, the threat of violence allegedly made by the individual was reported to the Highland Park police second hand," Director Kelly said. "So when police went to the house of the individual and his mother disputed the threat of violence and the individual told police he did not feel like hurting himself or others and was offered mental health resources."

Police say the younger Crimo went on to legally purchase several firearms, including the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle he allegedly used to attack the Highland Park Independence Day Parade Monday.

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He purchased the weapons in his own name with his own money, Levin noted.

"While the bar is lower for civil liability, it’s probably the same ultimate question" as criminal culpability, he said. "Illinois has laws surrounding child access to firearms, but they don’t apply in this instance."