Alleged gunman in Fourth of July parade mass shooting indicted for murder, attempted murder
Attack left 7 people dead and dozens wounded; accused was arrested after hours-long manhunt
The man accused of opening fire on an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago has been indicted by a grand jury on 21 first-degree murder counts, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery, representing the seven people killed and dozens wounded in the attack.
Prosecutors previously filed seven murder charges against Robert E. Crimo III. They announced the grand jury's decision to indict him on 117 felony charges on Wednesday.
Attorneys for the accused have not made a formal response yet to any of the charges he faces in the July Fourth shooting in downtown Highland Park, Ill. A representative for the county public defenders office, which is representing Crimo, said Wednesday that it does not comment publicly on any cases.
Prosecutors have said the 21-year-old admitted to the shooting when police arrested him following an hours-long search on July 4.
Under Illinois law, prosecutors can ask a grand jury to determine whether there is probable cause to proceed to trial. Grand jury proceedings aren't open to the public and defence attorneys cannot cross-examine witnesses.
The multiple first-degree murder charges allege the accused intended to kill, caused death or great bodily harm and took action with a strong probability of causing death or great bodily harm on the seven people who died.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that the 48 attempted murder counts and 48 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm represent "each victim who was struck by a bullet, bullet fragment, or shrapnel."
"I want to thank law enforcement and the prosecutors who presented evidence to the grand jury today," Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement. "Our investigation continues, and our victim specialists are working around the clock to support all those affected by this crime that led to 117 felony counts being filed."
Young survivor's mother speaks out
Authorities have said the wounded range in age from eight to their 80s, including an eight-year-old boy who was paralyzed from the waist down when a shot severed his spine.
In her first public comments since the shooting, the boy's mother said in a video and written statement released Wednesday that the violence her family and others experienced has taught them "to see the unbelievably generous, caring, good and kind spirit that makes up the vast majority of our world."
Keely Roberts described her son, Cooper Roberts, as "athletic" and "fun-loving" but said he has a long road ahead. Cooper was shot in the back. The bullet tore through his body, severely damaging his aorta, liver, esophagus and spinal cord before exiting through his chest. Cooper has undergone multiple surgeries.
Cooper's twin brother, Luke, sustained minor injuries from shrapnel, but his mom worries about the impact of seeing his twin so violently injured. She also was wounded in the leg.
Roberts said she still sees a bright future ahead for Cooper and thanked parade-goers who helped the family in the aftermath of the shooting, along with health care providers and other first responders.
"He's going to teach a whole lot of people that the lesson in this is not that one person did this horrible thing," she said. "The lesson in this is that thousands of people did great things, kind things, and continue to do kind things."
During a court hearing presenting the murder charges, prosecutors said police found more than 80 spent shell casings on the rooftop of a building along the parade route and the semi-automatic rifle used in the attack on the ground nearby.
Investigators believe the alleged gunman blended in with the fleeing crowd to get away from the scene, then borrowed his mother's car and briefly contemplated a second attack on a celebration in Madison, Wisc., before returning to Illinois where police arrested him.
Crimo is due to appear in court Aug. 3.