Jul 6, 2022
Authorities Speaks After Highland Park Shooter Makes First Court Appearance 7/06/22 Transcript
Lake County State’s Attorney speaks to reporters following the first court hearing for the 21-year-old suspect that allegedly killed seven people and injured dozens in Highland Park, IL. Read the transcript here.
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Christopher Covelli: (00:00)
… County State’s Attorney, Eric Rinehart, who has a few comments.
Eric Rinehart: (00:05)
Good morning. My name is Eric Rinehart. I’m the Lake County State’s Attorney. This morning, a few moments ago, the judge ruled that Robert Crimo III would be held without bond and that there was probable cause to hold him at this time for seven counts of first degree murder. We have filed those counts, alleging the intentional killing of seven individuals. Based on the information that the investigation has produced so far, the judge found that the evidence was at such a level that he could be held without bond. Also, because the fact that it is a mandatory life sentence.
Eric Rinehart: (00:46)
Additional details were developed during that bond hearing. I know there was a pool reporter there for that. I can certainly answer some additional questions about that. I want to continue to emphasize that this is an ongoing and active investigation with all of our law enforcement partners. If anyone has any surveillance footage whatsoever of the July 4th Highland Park parade, we would urge them to contact the Highland Park Police Department. Deputy Chief Covelli probably has the best phone number for that. I can take a few questions.
Speaker 3: (01:14)
Sir, can you tell us, there’s been this question about how the shooter obtained these weapons, this question about maybe the father sponsoring this license even after those initial contacts with law enforcement. Are you looking at any potential criminal charges with other family members, the parents perhaps?
Eric Rinehart: (01:29)
I don’t want to comment on that. I don’t want to answer that question right now in terms of what our work continues to be to look at all of the information and evidence in this case.
Speaker 4: (01:37)
Is there precedent to charge a family member who has signed off on a FOID application for someone who’s under 21? Is there precedent for that?
Eric Rinehart: (01:44)
That is not something that I have done in my administration. We can get back to you on that question in terms of whether that’s been done in the past. I know there was another state, in Michigan, totally different set of facts. We can get back to you on that, but that’s not something that I have personally done while I’ve been State’s Attorney.
Speaker 5: (02:02)
The bonds hearing is between the statement to policemen to discuss. Can you please elaborate on that and what he’s admitted to?
Speaker 3: (02:11)
Well, his statement was voluntary. He was questioned in the Highland Park Police Department. He was read his Miranda warnings, offered attorneys, et cetera. He went into details about what he had done. He admitted to what he had done.
Speaker 6: (02:26)
Did he say why?
Speaker 7: (02:27)
Can you provide new insight into his trip into Wisconsin and any potential motive or motivation for that?
Eric Rinehart: (02:32)
No. And I was also asked the question if he said why he did it. We don’t want to speculate on motives right now.
Speaker 8: (02:39)
Has he spoken about it? [inaudible 00:02:41]
Eric Rinehart: (02:40)
I’m going to refer that question to Deputy Chief Covelli.
Christopher Covelli: (02:44)
Certainly, our investigation has gone very much until what happened after the shooting, what Crimo’s plan was. Investigators did develop some information that it appears when he drove to Madison, he was driving around. However, he did see a celebration that was occurring in Madison and he seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting.
Speaker 8: (03:08)
Christopher Covelli: (03:09)
Speaker 9: (03:09)
Do you know how much ammunition he had at that point on his body?
Christopher Covelli: (03:12)
Approximately 60 rounds.
Speaker 9: (03:14)
At that point, he did?
Christopher Covelli: (03:15)
Speaker 9: (03:15)
Christopher Covelli: (03:16)
Speaker 10: (03:16)
What about his motivation for the attack in first place?
Christopher Covelli: (03:19)
His motivation isn’t necessarily clear. I don’t want to go specifically into what he told investigators. However, he had some type of affinity towards the number four and seven and inverse was seven four.
Speaker 11: (03:33)
Do you believe his [inaudible 00:03:34] was to go to Highland Park and then to Madison all along?
Christopher Covelli: (03:37)
We don’t have information to suggest he planned on driving to Madison initially to commit another attack. We do believe that he was driving around following the first attack and saw the celebration. [inaudible 00:03:48]
Speaker 9: (03:48)
When he got to Madison, did something deter him from attacking or did he appear to make a decision himself to not attack?
Christopher Covelli: (03:54)
Indications are that he hadn’t put enough thought and research into it.
Speaker 12: (03:57)
Have you talked to the female witness you were looking for yesterday, and what did you learn?
Christopher Covelli: (04:01)
We have not been able to locate her yet.
Eric Rinehart: (04:03)
Do you know anything about the affinity to the numbers four, seven? What the significance is of that?
Christopher Covelli: (04:07)
It apparently comes from music that he’s interested in.
Speaker 13: (04:10)
What about the weapons? We understand now that he bought one of them in 2020. But you’ve learned more information about that. What can you share?
Christopher Covelli: (04:18)
Yeah, so in 2020 he bought four weapons. The weapon used in the July 4th attack, a Kel-Tec Sub 200, a Remington 700, a shotgun. In 2021, he purchased a Glock 43X, and that was after his 21st birthday. [inaudible 00:04:33].
Speaker 14: (04:33)
Chris, why do you think he changed his mind and came back from Madison?
Christopher Covelli: (04:38)
I can’t speak to why he decided to come back from Madison. There are indications that he didn’t put enough planning forward to commit another attack. There’s been some questions about the FBI and their response in Madison, evidence technicians in Madison. He did dispose of his phone in Madison, the Madison area in Middleton. That phone has since been recovered.
Speaker 15: (05:03)
Chief, is the father cooperating with the investigation?
Christopher Covelli: (05:05)
I don’t want to go into levels of cooperation. We’re talking to everybody though and working on getting the most cooperation we can out of everybody. [inaudible 00:05:13]
Speaker 16: (05:12)
In 2019, Highland Park notified the State Police about the knife incident. Is there not a mechanism in this firearm identification law, that hard law … Is there not a mechanism where that should have stuck around? Why wasn’t that flagged when just months later, he’s getting a gun?
Christopher Covelli: (05:35)
I don’t want to speak to the State Police’s protocol or procedure. I do believe they’ve issued some information about that incident, the information they received in their decision making that went into that process. That really solely rests on them, and I don’t want to speak to their protocol.
Speaker 16: (05:50)
But to your knowledge, there’s nothing in their system that holds onto those things if the person-
Christopher Covelli: (05:55)
I don’t have access to their system to even know that. So I really don’t want to speak to that. Dana?
Speaker 17: (05:59)
I just need some clarification. He was a little unclear. So the Smith & Wesson that was recovered, was that recovered on the ground and that was the weapon that fell out the bag and used in the shooting, or was rifle used in the shooting recovered on the roof?
Christopher Covelli: (06:16)
The rifle used in the shooting was recovered on the ground. That’s the object that he dropped. We’re still looking to speak to the witness who saw him drop an object wrapped in a red blanket or red cloth.
Speaker 18: (06:25)
So he actually took the rifle with him.
Speaker 19: (06:26)
Hey, Chris, do you guys still think it was dropped intentionally or dropped accidentally?
Christopher Covelli: (06:33)
I don’t want to speculate on why. There could be a lot of reasons why. I don’t want to speculate.
Speaker 20: (06:38)
Did he shoot anybody once he came on the ground? Or was all the shooting done from the roof?
Christopher Covelli: (06:47)
All of the shooting was done on the roof. [crosstalk 00:06:48]
Speaker 21: (06:48)
Can you clarify what weapon he had in Madison, Wisconsin, when he decided not to do it?
Christopher Covelli: (06:52)
The Kel-Tec Sub 200 is what he had in Madison.
Speaker 22: (06:55)
Can you provide information about what services will be available at 12:00 PM at the Highland Park High School?
Christopher Covelli: (07:00)
Absolutely. The FBI Victims Service Response Team, they’re opening their Family Assistance Center today at noon. That will be open at the Highland Park High School. It’s going to be open from noon to 9:00 PM. It’s for anybody impacted physically, emotionally, by the events that happen in Highland Park. Tomorrow and Friday, it’ll be open from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and thereafter as needed. Additionally, personal effects that were on the parade route are being evaluated by the FBI Evidence Response Team. That’s going to take a bit of time. The personal effects that were on central between Second and Green Bay, those should be available this afternoon for those that want to collect their property that was left in those areas.
Speaker 22: (07:38)
Where do they collect them?
Christopher Covelli: (07:39)
The Highland Park High School.
Speaker 23: (07:41)
Sir, during the bond hearing, there were some details about how the shooting happened, the fact that he reloaded. Can you sort of summarize what was said in the bond hearing since the audience couldn’t be there?
Eric Rinehart: (07:56)
Yeah. So Chief Ben Dillon, D-I-L-L-O-N, handled the details of the bond information that was given to the judge. He indicated that from the roof of the store, the defendant fired, emptied one clip of, I believe, 30 rounds, and reloaded a second clip, I believe emptied that clip, I’m not positive, and actually reloaded a third time. And so those details may change obviously as the investigation continues, but that’s the information that we gave to the judge today.
Speaker 24: (08:32)
The shooter passed four background checks despite these reports of an attempted suicide and the fact that he said he wanted to kill everyone and had this knife collection. How is that possible in a state with some of the strictest gun laws? And how frustrating is that for you?
Eric Rinehart: (08:48)
So a couple things. I made these comments yesterday that I think we need to increase our awareness about the red flag law. We can certainly get you the details of that red flag law. We have a little bit of information about that today. When I have said the words red flag law, that’s a specific firearm restraining order. We have to get into a little detail here. There’s a firearm restraining order. There is also a process to check individuals before they get their FOIDs. So there are two process happening. So the Illinois State Police manage the FOID process. That’s the fire owner ID card under Illinois. The Illinois State Police manage that process. Deputy Chief Covelli and I share the same response on that, which is that you have to get into the details of exactly when the information is given to the State Police. What is the level of detail that’s given to the State Police, and then how they deal with that information for the FOID application process.
Eric Rinehart: (09:39)
There was never a fire arm restraining order. That’s what I have used the term red flag. That type of order has never been … Mr. Crimo has never been involved in that type of order. That is an order where primarily family members and other individuals can go to a court and ask that somebody have their firearms taken and not be allowed to purchase firearms. To be very clear, that did not happen in Mr. Crimo’s case. But a lot of the questions have been about the Illinois State Police internal process.
Speaker 24: (10:05)
Do you know who made that request, though, if the family didn’t, since the police went out to the home? Did they have-
Eric Rinehart: (10:11)
It’s on a case-by-case basis, and it would depend on the individual information that they had at that time. And to be clear, there were no firearms when they went to the home in 2019. So we’d have to look at some very specifics of-
Speaker 25: (10:21)
[inaudible 00:10:21] the victims. Can you confirm that there is now an eighth victim and do you plan to file an additional murder charge?
Eric Rinehart: (10:27)
I have not heard anything about an eighth victim.
Speaker 25: (10:32)
There was another victim that was identified. Is that the seventh victim?
Eric Rinehart: (10:34)
Yes. I’ll let … Yeah.
Christopher Covelli: (10:35)
That is the seventh victim. That is the seventh victim. It’s the total of seven victims that have passed.
Speaker 26: (10:40)
Mr. Rinehart, can I ask you, sir, did he make any phone calls on the road going to and from Madison?
Christopher Covelli: (10:45)
I can’t get into those specifics at this point.
Speaker 27: (10:48)
Can you tell us how the phone was recovered?
Speaker 28: (10:49)
As a public safety professional, just your reflection, this is obviously the same type of weapon system that we’ve seen used in so many attacks across the country. As someone here who’s responsible for public safety, just your reflection on that same type of weapon being used in the attack [inaudible 00:11:04]
Eric Rinehart: (11:04)
Yeah. I was asked about my reflections upon the use of this type of weapon in an attack in my community, what happens to be my hometown. As I said yesterday, the State of Illinois and the United States should ban these types of assault weapons. We had this ban from 1994 to 2004 with bipartisan support, bipartisan support. There was a ban of these types of weapons between 1994 and 2004. Everything shows that these types of horrifying, devastating incidents went down during that time. My position as a public safety professional, as one of the many individuals responsible for the safety of the people in Lake County, we should have a statewide and national ban on assault weapons. [inaudible 00:11:53]
Speaker 29: (11:54)
So the fact that he confessed to the crime changes the dynamic of your case, but he can still enter a not guilty plea, can he not?
Eric Rinehart: (12:04)
Of course. Yes, the arraignment will likely be in August, just to give you the schedule. The next court date was set as, I believe, July 28th at the request of the … Oh, no. We asked to move that up to late July. He will be represented by the public defender’s office. They had one of their most experienced attorneys present in court today. They will consult. And this matter will be presented to a grand jury or a judge at some point for additional hearings regarding the evidence to see if he should be held over for trial. Obviously, we predict that, or we wouldn’t have filed the charges, and an arraignment will likely be in August.
Speaker 29: (12:46)
And when do you plan on presenting the rest of the charges against him?
Eric Rinehart: (12:47)
Yes. Thank you for that question. The question was, when will the rest of the charges be presented? Yesterday, I referred to the fact that there would be additional charges, many more charges against this defendant because so many people were hurt. For each individual was hurt, people can anticipate an attempt murder charge, as well as an aggravated battery with a firearm charge. All of those are class X felonies, which have obviously serious prison time associated with them. But other people were attempted to be murdered, people who were not shot. So there are many different charges that we are reviewing with respect to the other individuals who have sadly been injured by this, frankly, who were present on the scene. They were shot at. That may also constitute an attempt murder charge. Every time he fires a bullet at an individual, he is committing aggravated discharge of a weapon, whether he hits someone or not. There will be many, many more charges coming in the coming weeks. I don’t want to say for sure, but I would anticipate all of those charges being presented at one time in late July.
Speaker 30: (13:53)
Has this shooting exposed, then, a gap in the state’s gun laws? I mean, as a prosecutor, I’m curious what your thoughts are here. Here’s somebody that clearly shouldn’t have had a gun. There were problems. Even if the laws worked as designed, he still got a gun.
Eric Rinehart: (14:11)
Well, yeah, the gap in the state’s gun laws would be that we don’t ban assault weapons. So yes. With respect to the red flag laws, you have to look at the individual, you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis when the information is inputted to people who are working on all types of public safety issues and how that information is stored, how that information is flagged later. But with respect to holes in gun laws, we need an assault weapon ban, and the community, we need to make sure that law enforcement is using the red flag law, the firearm restraining order law.
Speaker 31: (14:43)
If today, someone gets confiscated with 19 knives, in five months, would he be able to buy guns? I mean, following the rules.
Eric Rinehart: (14:54)
Great question. The question was, when you confiscate 19 knives, how does that affect some of the procedures that we’ve been talking about? Many of these questions will have to be answered by the Illinois State Police, only because that internal FOID process is set by administrative regulations and is set by internal ISP procedures in terms of getting what’s called the FOID card in Illinois, that’s the fire owner ID card. And so again, it’s on a case-by-case basis with respect to what they knew. But in that case, there had not been any firearms confiscated or that’s what I know right now. But the Illinois State Police are going to have to answer those questions regarding their internal process.
Speaker 31: (15:31)
[inaudible 00:15:31] Seems pretty clear that someone who had confiscated 19 knives shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns. I mean, I think it’s common sense.
Eric Rinehart: (15:40)
Yes, it would depend on the details of what was being said about knives, whether anything was being said about firearms. I have not seen that individual police report yet from 2019.
Christopher Covelli: (15:50)
Couple more. Couple more.
Speaker 33: (15:51)
The Director of the FBI just spoke moments ago about this, FBI Director Christopher Wray. He said that federal charges could come in this case, that obviously his agents are working with your team. Obviously, you’re the lead, but can you talk about your discussions with federal officials as well about possible federal charges?
Eric Rinehart: (16:06)
Yes. Thank you very much. The question was to go through some of the discussions with the federal officials, US attorney John Lausch and I, L-A-U-S-C-H, John Lausch, he and I are talking every few hours. He and I were both present at the command post and at the Highland Park Police Department throughout July 4th and July 5th. US Attorney Lausch and I were also present yesterday at a press conference and we’re talking every few hours, as I said. We are constantly evaluating the information. Much of the information is digital, much of it has to be evaluated with a lot of detail, with a lot of precision. The FBI is analyzing that information. And I would refer you either to Director Wray or US Attorney Lausch with respect to the timing of any federal charges. We are working with them constantly. Our cyber crime lab is in constant contact with FBI agents and we are all working together. It’s obviously all hands on deck as we continue to evaluate this active investigation. [inaudible 00:17:05]
Speaker 34: (17:08)
Madison, that he was looking to attack? Where was his phone recovered in Middleton? And did he admit to all of that?
Christopher Covelli: (17:14)
I don’t want to get into specifics about what he said in the interview and what he didn’t say in the interview or what he admitted to and not. But what investigative leads have thus turned up is that while he was driving and he located this celebration occurring in the Madison area, he contemplated another attack with the firearm he had in his car. His cell phone was dumped in the 6500 block of University Avenue in Middleton. That was recovered yesterday by the FBI. And it’s being processed right now.
Speaker 34: (17:43)
Why did he go to Madison?
Speaker 35: (17:43)
Chris, can you talk a little bit about his status here at the detention center, if he was separated from the prison population and is he on suicide watch?
Christopher Covelli: (17:50)
So what happens now that the bond hearing occurred, the judge held him without bail. He will go through an intake process at the Lake County Jail. They will go through a number of criteria questions, and he’ll be classified on where he should be placed within the jail. Depending on how those questions turn up, he might be placed in an individual cell. That’s something that the jail will work on and they go through their internal processes. [inaudible 00:18:16]
Speaker 36: (18:19)
During the interview, did he express any kind of remorse or anything like that?
Christopher Covelli: (18:22)
I don’t want to get into his demeanor during the interview. We’ll take two more, guys. Two more.
Speaker 37: (18:34)
Why was he in Wisconsin?
Christopher Covelli: (18:34)
Speaker 37: (18:34)
Where was he at in Wisconsin? When he was in the seven hours that we were looking for him, when he went to Wisconsin, on his way back, he was caught on 41 by a North Chicago Police officer. Where was he at in Wisconsin?
Christopher Covelli: (18:43)
He was in Madison, in Middleton, Wisconsin.
Speaker 38: (18:45)
Do you have any indication why he went to Madison of all places?
Christopher Covelli: (18:47)
No. No indication.
Speaker 39: (18:50)
What event was it that he was contemplating?
Christopher Covelli: (18:51)
There was some event celebration occurring in the Madison area.
Speaker 40: (18:55)
Can you discuss how long-
Speaker 41: (18:56)
Chris, how long did he plan for the Highland Park shooting?
Christopher Covelli: (18:58)
He planned this for several weeks for the Highland Park shooting. Any last questions for the State’s Attorney? All right, folks. This is probably going to conclude our formal press briefings on this matter. If there is breaking news or anything major that does develop, we will call a press conference. Otherwise, I would not anticipate major press briefings like this. Investigators have months to go continuing their investigation into this. We’ll be collaborating very closely with the State’s Attorney’s office. They’ll be collaborating with their federal partners. We’ll be collaborating with our federal partners. Any specific questions, please reach out directly. Thank you, all.
Speaker 37: (19:35)
Chris, one more question. Is he on suicide watch?
Christopher Covelli: (19:37)
He’s being classified now. I don’t know yet. [inaudible 00:19:46].
Speaker 42: (19:39)
This one? Dave, this one?
Speaker 43: (19:39)
The one right on the orange, yep.
Eric Rinehart: (19:39)
Well, I got to go back to the office.
Speaker 44: (20:27)
You’re welcome. Which one? [inaudible 00:20:27]