Last year, a disturbed young man murdered 7 people and injured many other during a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Police arrested the 22-year-old murderer, and he currently faces a bunch of charges related to his homicidal rampage. But this post is about the killer's father, 58-year-old Robert Crimo Junior.
Prosecutors initially charged Crimo Jr. with 7 counts of ‘reckless conduct', one for each person killed by his son. If convicted, each charge comes with a possibility of 3 years in prison. A grand jury just formally indicted Crimo Jr. and it seems like this case is proceeding.
So let's look at the case based on what we know so far.
The Charges Against Crimo Jr.—
The charges against Crimo Jr. stem from his endorsement of his son's 2019 FOID permit application. Illinois requires a person to obtain a Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) to possess firearms or ammunition legally. Because the killer was under a8 years old in 2019, Illinois law requires a parent to endorse the application. Authorities say:
Illinois State Police reviewed the son’s gun license application and found no reason to deny it because he had no arrests, no criminal record, no serious mental health problems, no orders of protection and no other behavior that would disqualify him.
Prosecutors claim Crimo Jr. knew his son was potentially violent, and yet he still endorsed the young man's FOID application. Prosecutors argue this because of two incidents which occurred months before the killer applied for his FOID card. In April 2019, police responded to the family home because the killer threatened to kill himself using a machete. Then is September 2019, a family member reported to the police that the future killer threatened to “kill everyone.”
Police didn't arrest Crimo Jr.'s son for the criminal threats, nor was he committed against his will to a mental institution. Police can temporarily detain a person for 72 hours, so a licensed doctor can evaluate the person and determine if they pose a risk to themselves or others. It appears that the evaluation determined the future killer was not a risk to himself or others, and did not need to be detained any further.
What Options Did Authorities Have—
It is easy to second guess the doctors, knowing what we do now. However, we have to understand the troubled history of governments holding against their will, people who they deemed “crazy.” Many people incorrectly believe that people with mental disorders are likely to commit to violence. This isn't the case, even though that some mental illnesses cause people to act bizarrely and it can be quite scary. This issue of stripping Second Amendment rights, or confinement to an institution and forced medication, of those with ‘”mental health issues” is difficult to solve. Especially in a society where we value individual liberty and restrained governmental authority.
It's important to know that Illinois already has robust laws that police can use to seize the firearms of someone who is a danger to themselves or others. They could have temporarily seized the young man's firearms if they took custody of him based on valid suicidal threats. It appears as though they didn't.
Illinois also has red flag laws, that police could have used to disarm the killer years before the shooting, had a family member or police petitioned a Judge and presented compelling evidence he was a threat to himself or others. It seems like nobody close to him, or the police who responded to the calls, thought the threats reached that level.
I tried my best to present what I know of the case in an impartial way. I purposefully didn't want to include my opinions on the charges against Crimo Junior. It is still early, and as the case progresses, we will understand more of what happened before the shooting.
It is very hard to predict criminal behavior, even if someone makes statements to harm themselves or others. In hindsight, we often can't imagine how red flags went unnoticed. But it's hard because we don't know how many similar incidents occur, where nobody acts on their statements. I'm not saying this to advocate for Crimo Junior, not in the least. I think that the young man who decided to kill innocent strangers is extremely disturbed. Shame on the parents if they didn't help their son, or through neglect made the issues worse. I'm not saying this is the case, but I presume we will learn a lot as the case progresses.
I just think cases like this are a good opportunity to reflect on our relationships.
Consider checking out the non-profit organization “Hold My Guns.” Since the time we interviewed the founders on our Concealed Carry Podcast, I have become a strong advocate for their mission to give gun owners safe firearm storage options and help overcome the stigma of mental health. Check out the interview by clicking here.