The Highland Park Shooter Escaped in Women’s Clothes, Police Say

Police said they believe the shooter planned the attack for weeks, and wore women's clothes during the attack to hide his identity and blend into the fleeing crowd.
Chairs, bicycles, strollers and balloons were left behind at the scene of a mass shooting on the Fourth of July parade route Monday, July 4, 2022, along Central Avenue in Highland Park, Illinois.

The Highland Park shooting suspect fired more than 70 rounds at people gathered to watch an Independence Day parade before blending into the fleeing crowd while wearing women’s clothes, police said on Tuesday. 

Officials are reviewing evidence while preparing to announce charges against Robert E. Crimo III, 21, who was apprehended in his mother’s car on Monday evening while attempting to flee, Lake County Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli told reporters. 

Advertisement

“During the attack Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing, and investigators do believe he did this to conceal his facial tattoos and his identity, and help him during the escape with other people who were fleeing the chaos,” Covelli said. 

The shooter injured more than 30 people and killed six in an attack that sowed horror and panic in the affluent suburb north of Chicago, during what was supposed to be a day of relaxed celebration. Officials believe the shooter climbed onto the roof of a local building using a fire-escape ladder, and that he’d planned the assault for “several weeks.”

Investigators think that after the shooting, the suspect climbed back down the ladder and then traveled on foot to his mother’s house, where he took his mother’s Honda Fit and drove away heading south. Crimo was apprehended “without incident” after he was spotted traveling south on Route 41. Police found a second rifle inside the vehicle when he was taken into custody, Covelli said. 

Covelli said he couldn’t immediately give details about the suspect’s attire, but he said initial reports suggested the suspect had long hair, “so a wig isn’t out of the question.” 

Authorities believe the rifle used in the shooting, which was left behind on the rooftop, was purchased legally by Crimo in Illinois, Covelli said. There are no indications that anyone else was involved in the attack, he added.  

Crimo, a local rapper, left behind music videos and imagery that are now being reviewed by officials, Covelli said. He performed under the name “Awake the Rapper,” and made music videos that include references to mass shootings, including crude drawings showing a person firing at people. 

Any potential motives for the shooting are still under review by authorities. Covelli said investigators have no evidence so far to suggest the shooting was motivated by an attempt to target people based on race, religion, “or any other protected status.”