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Police: Parade Attack Was Pre-Planned "For Several Weeks". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 05, 2022 - 12:30   ET



DEPUTY CHIEF CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: He accessed the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder and began opening fire on the innocent Independence Day celebration-goers. The rifle was purchased in Illinois, and the information we have thus far is that it appears to have been purchased legally by Crimo.

During the attack, Crimo was dressed in woman's clothing, and investigators do believe he did this to conceal his facial tattoos and his identity, and help him during the escape with the other people who were fleeing the chaos. During the attack, we believe that Crimo fired more than 70 rounds from this rifle into the crowd of innocent people.

Following the attack, Crimo exited the roof, he dropped his rifle, and he blended in with the crowd, and he escaped. He walked to his mother's home, who lived in the area, and he blended right in with everybody else as they were running around almost as he was an innocent spectator as well. He borrowed his mother's vehicle.

We issued an alert yesterday afternoon. Chief Jogmen provided the vehicle information and Crimo's information. We're very thankful that an alert member of the community saw Crimo's vehicle traveling southbound on Route 41, dialed 911. An alert North Chicago police officer spotted the vehicle, waited for additional backup units to arrive, conducted a traffic stop, and they were able to safely apprehend Crimo with no injuries to the officers.

Inside the vehicle, there was a second rifle located. Indication is that was purchased by Crimo as well. Thus far, over 30 people were injured during the attack, and this does not include the six who lost their lives.

Right now, Crimo remains in custody at this time. There are no indications that there was anybody else involved in this attack. And by all indications that appears Crimo was acting by himself. The Lake County State's Attorney's Office has been with us from the ground level. They're with us this morning. They were with us through the nights. We continue to review the information.

Investigators are still developing leads and very critical information. Once we're at a point where we're ready to review all of that information for charge, we will sit down with the state's attorney and review for criminal charges. I'm going to turn this over to the mayor and then I'll be back up to answer questions. Mayor, thank you.

MAYOR NANCY ROTERING, HIGHLAND PARK, ILLINOIS: Thank you. Today is the day of grieving together, a day to pause, a day to remember those who left us, those who were injured and for strength for our community. Several vigil and prayer services are taking place today both inside and beyond Highland Park. They are as follows, the Community Church of Lake Bluff 117 East Scranton Avenue, Lake Bluff will hold a prayer service today at noon.

The service will include prayer and music at Christ's Church on the corner of Route 60 and Waukegan Avenue and Lake Forest. Trinity Grace Church and Christ's Church has organized a community prayer gathering at 3:00 p.m. at Trinity Grace Church 1506 Half Day Road Highland Park, everyone is welcome. Highland Park Presbyterian Church Trinity Episcopal and other area, faith leaders will hold an ecumenical community prayer vigil today at 7:00 p.m. at the Highland Park Presbyterian Church 330 Laurel Avenue Highland Park, all are welcome.

Today, Highland Park High School located at 433 Vine Avenue in conjunction with community partners is hosting prices counseling until 2:00 p.m. and is open to everyone. No appointments are necessary. Additionally, a Family Assistance Center will open tomorrow July 6th at noon, to provide support services and crisis assistance to those who were directly impacted at the parade. The location and hours of operations are pending. We'll get that information to the community as soon as we have it. Please go to the city website for more information.

The Highland Park Police Department, the American Red Cross, and the FBI Victim Services Response Team are assisting with additional partners. The teams will engage with victims and families to assess their immediate needs and provide crisis intervention and other forms of emergency assistance. Anyone who was a victim of the incident and is in need of support can call 800-Call-FBI.

I know what a generous community we are a part of. We are overwhelmed with the amount of support offered not only from those in Highland Park but the surrounding region and throughout the nation. Thank you.

For those who are looking to donate to victims and in support of the community, we ask that you'd be mindful of potential scams on GoFundMe and other fundraising avenues. This afternoon we'll share additional information on the city's website regarding how to donate to the victims' survivors and those who support the community. For all who have reached out with offers of equipment, food, and professional services, we thank you.


Thank you all for coming out today. I'll now turn the mic back to Deputy Chief Covelli.

COVELLI: Thanks ma'am.

Any questions? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- tell us about the motivation. Is the suspect cooperating potentially in question and what more are you learning about the motivation about him (INAUDIBLE).

COVELLI: At this point, we have not developed a motive from him. Investigators are very much furthering the investigation. They have been in discussions with him. I don't have anything to say about motivation thus far because it hasn't been provided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, we've seen disturbing videos online, were warning signs missed?

COVELLI: The question was, there's disturbing videos online that had been seen. We are reviewing those. Those are going to be a part of any investigation efforts by our taskforce investigators, Highland Park police, we'll look at them and we'll see what they review.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us an idea were in Illinois that he purchased the weapons and (INAUDIBLE), did he tell her what (INAUDIBLE).

COVELLI: The question was, where did he purchase the weapons? And did he tell his mother what he had done? He purchased the weapons locally within the region. So the Chicago land area. When he went to his mother's, we have no indication that he provided any information to her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us an idea of how many weapons did he purchased and then what?

COVELLI: So he was in possession of the firearm the day of the rifle, he was in possession of another rifle in his vehicle when he was pulled over by police. He also had other firearms that were recovered from a residence that he was living in in Highwood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were in his name.

COVELLI: They were in his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'd all legally purchased.

COVELLI: They were legally purchased.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His level of disguise, right, so how did you guys identify him at this point? I mean, you clearly, there was a lot of planning. And you have an idea when he placed himself on the roof, like is their timeline.

COVELLI: So we are working on the timeline, and we don't want to come out with any accurate information on timing. One of the asset that we have as members of the community if you have any video of this individual that is walking toward the parade at the parade, potentially on the roof or exiting to please call 1-800-Call-FBI. As far as the disguise went, he wore that in attempt to conceal himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have pictures of that that you can offer? I mean, what did he look like or?

COVELLI: Potentially, I'll look into that. And I'll have to get back to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Considering of the extensive digital trail, the disturbing videos, the amount of (INAUDIBLE) was he known to law enforcement beforehand, (INAUDIBLE).

COVELLI: I can't get into that right now. There have been some law enforcement context, nothing of a violent nature. I can't get into the specifics of the context of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how many rifles are calling to NBC News are reporting that you purchased multiple weapons. Can you give us any details as to the weapons and how many of you may have been --

COVELLI: At this time, I know of the two rifles and I know that there were potentially pistols that he had owned as well. Sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has he made any statements to investigators? And does he have an appeal?

COVELLI: I'm not going to go into what he may or may not have said. The investigation is still moving forward. I'll provide that information later on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you break down --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- targeted anyone specific or was overshooting random?

COVELLI: Shooting appears to be completely random.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- because of the high population of Jewish people I know people are concerned that it was an anti-Semitic attack.

COVELLI: We have no information to suggest at this point it was racially motivated, motivated by religion or any other protected status.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe still in place is an assault rifle ban in Highland Park, is that correct?

COVELLI: Yes, I don't have information on that right now. But we will get back to on specific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all videos of Crimo prior to this, did anyone ever call Highland Park Police or kick off authorities that he's were unarmed?

COVELLI: No, we were not made aware of these videos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris, how did you identify him as a suspect? Do surveillance did or by tracing the gun?

COVELLI: So investigators did a really good job. The ATF was phenomenal yesterday. They expedited. They trace the firearm. That was a major investigative lead for us. In addition to that the witness statements, the videos that we obtained from people that turned them in and the businesses they all helped us tremendously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you break down the number of injuries, not the deceased? And can you also then further breakdown how many of those were gunshot victims and how many of the injured were not --

COVELLI: The information I have right now is that all of those that were either transported to the hospital or self-drove themselves to the hospital were injured by gunfire. So over 30 individuals that were injured by the gunfire and they went to the three hospitals we mentioned yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have more info on the ages --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- how were you able to identify (INAUDIBLE).


COVELLI: He was identified by a number of -- there were police officers that were able to recognize his photo once it was revealed and that helps tremendously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, Chris, can you help us understand, you said, he was dressed as a woman during the shooting, is that based on photographic evidence, or what eye witnesses have said, and also can you tell us what type of weapon was used?

COVELLI: So it was a high powered rifle that was used, it was shot high velocity rounds. It could be similar to an AR-15. It was similar to an AR-15. As far as identifying and with the women's -- he was seen on video camera in the woman's clothes, video camera played tremendous role and how we were able to identify on both leaving initially and as he left.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and where they bought at the scene?

COVELLI: Different and bought at separate locations.


COVELLI: I'm not exactly sure what the woman's attire consisted of. Initially, it was reported that this person had long hair, so a wig isn't out of the question.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- how did he get there exactly?

COVELLI: Can you repeat that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us more about the business where it was? Which group (INAUDIBLE). COVELLI: It was a local business right in that vicinity. I'm not sure the name of the business. He was able to access the roof through a ladder that's affixed to the side of the building. We'll take three more. OK.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened with those -- with that clothing? Did he dumped it somewhere or did he have it on him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you talked to his parents at all? We talked to the teachers who he was with in elementary school that have contacted his parents several times saying there were issues with him as a teem and a young child growing up with --

COVELLI: Sure. One of the things that is important to remember here is the diligence and investigation, we're going to reach out to everybody we possibly can that has information firsthand information about him, whether that's family members, teachers, friends, whoever it is that has information, but it does take time. It takes time to gather who may know him, who knew him in the past, teachers. That is something that taskforce investigators are working on. They've interviewed a number of people thus far. But please keep in mind. We're 24 hours in. There's a lot of work to be done here. We're not done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were his parents cooperating?

COVELLI: I don't want to get into levels of cooperation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where the weapons modified at all?

COVELLI: No indication the weapons were modified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more, one more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have any children passed away?

COVELLI: No children have passed away. We'll take your last one.


COVELLI: I'm not sure what address he gave. I can get back to you on that. All right, we'll be back this afternoon about 3 o'clock. Hopefully have an updated status on charges. He'll remain in custody at this point. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You've been listening to local officials at Highland Park, Illinois, most of the briefing conducted by the Deputy Chief -- Deputy Lake County Public Information Officer and the Deputy Chief Chris Covelli. The very important new details about the shooting at the parade route yesterday including the suspect is in custody, they are having discussions, having discussions with police, went to a rooftop, climbed up a fire escape to a rooftop, had a rifle, he had purchased a high powered rifle similar to an AR-15, fired more than 70 rounds.

And the deputy chief says was dressed in women's clothing perhaps including a wig that police believed to help him escape, to help him come down the fire escape and walk through the crowd as everyone else was fleeing the scene. Let's get some more of what we just heard from CNN's Josh Campbell, who was there at that press conference. Josh interesting that they are waiting to continue further to get new investigative leads and more information before they present actual charges but a pretty compelling picture there from the deputy chief of how this played out.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and he said we might be hearing about potential charges later on in the afternoon. The police, they've been very diligent and coming out and updating us, providing us information. We've been talking all morning about the forensic side of this investigation about what is happening at the scene. They're processing it. We know that this suspect according to my law enforcement sources, and are reporting at a robust online digital footprint that has been part of the investigation.

But what we just heard now, John, really gets to a lot of the questions we've had about motive, this deputy chief saying that they believe that this suspect in this case, plan this for weeks. And obviously there was a question about whether he had gone to that location, had case that location. It appears as though there was a lot of planning that went involved that was involved in this. And just those stunning details about going so far as to disguise his own identity, those who have seen his picture have seen, you know, he has got a face tattoo that obviously very noticeable.

We've been asking people around the community that know him, and the first thing they say is, oh, face tattooed guy. So it appears as though and wearing women's garb he was trying to hide herself, hide his identity. And then we also know that after that panic ensued, those shots rang out from that sniper's nest if you will, on top of that building. According to authorities, he tried to blend in and was able to make his escape.

Now we did have one key question yesterday about how authorities were able to make that identification. We're told -- we were told a few moments ago that it appears that the ATF was instrumental here in tracing the firearm that they found on the roof, what authorities were describing as a AR-15 style rifle they were able to trace that weapon to his point of sale. They said that this was actually purchased legally by the suspect. They had a name. They were able to then run those checks to figure out where this person lived, that set off this manhunt.


And they identified him obviously put that information out. We're also learning about how this person was taken into custody. We know based on our reporting yesterday there was a traffic stop. We're also learning that it was a diligent member of the community who saw that information that the police put out about the suspect's vehicle, saw the vehicle, made the call authorities arrested him. He is now safely in custody. We're waiting, again, additional information on what the charges will be in this case, John.

KING: Josh Campbell on the scene for us live, Josh, appreciate the quick reporting.

Let's continue our conversation and bring back the former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, the former FBI supervisory agent Peter Licata. Commissioner Davis we've had a lot of talks in recent days because of the disaster in Uvalde about law enforcement mistakes. If you listen to the deputy chief here, it sounds like this was remarkable law enforcement success and community success. The ATF quickly identifying the rifle found on the scene who bought it.

So you have a name, a local business immediately providing video so you see somebody leaving the scene, once the information is put out a citizen as Josh has noted, dialing 911. The North Chicago Police getting back up, and bam, suspect under arrest. What else jumped up at you in terms of the speed and efficiency of the law enforcement and community response here?

ED DAVIS, FORMER BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, John, it was such a contrast to what we saw in Uvalde. This was a textbook case, this police department was trained, they responded immediately. They saved lives by evacuating people. They secured the scene. They collected evidence. Worked with the federal authorities in identifying the bad guy was.

And then the community stepped up. And just like we saw in the marathon investigation, but we literally had thousands of FBI, state police, local police all over Watertown. But it took one guy to walk out in his backyard and to see something suspicious before we can get our hands on this person. So it all came together.

The other thing was, the outreach that they had done in the media is so strikingly in contrast to what we saw in Uvalde. These guys realize that the media can be a friend, you know, the police department in Highland Park use the media to reach out to their community, but to keep the victim's families involved, and to keep the public at large. This was a national incident. They kept the public at large informed immediately, frequently. And that's exactly what people expect today, it really is a great thing to see.

KING: And so Peter Licata is an investigator, what are your big questions now, especially after the remarkable narrative we just heard the deputy chief saying they believe the suspect had pre planned this for weeks.

Obviously, they said that one rifle at the scene, another rifle recovered in the car, handguns he believes recovered at the home as well but putting on women's clothing, knowing to go up a fire escape to a rooftop, coming back down that fire escape in the women's clothing in disguise essentially, going to your mother's house borrowing her car and trying to flee. It is a remarkable detail of pre planning to be able to hide your identity at a Fourth of July parade with hundreds of people gathering walk right into the middle of it and just begin to commit a tragedy.

PETER LICATA, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Agreed John. So this part of the investigation, will feed into the prosecution's case against Crimo. So it was obviously pre planned. I'm sure he did reconnaissance of that building. You just don't climb a random fire escape. I'm sure he'd probably over the course of a few days or few weeks prior actually scale that fire escape. Gotten to that -- roof to see where he was traced random targets would be.

The fact that he brought, you know, a getaway dress, a costume had another weapon nearby. All this goes to the pre planning and all this part of the investigation will support the prosecution and the furtherance of the charges that they're going to submit against Crimo.

KING: Commissioner Davis one point again, the deputy chief was not, did not offer any details, but he said there had been quote discussions with him. He also said that they did not have anything to say publicly about a motive. But he did say this is partly answering that question. They thought it was a random shooting, and that there was no indication at least at this preliminary point that this was motivated by race or anti-Semitism or anything like that, but just the fact that they're having discussions with him.

If you look at the online postings, Mr. Crimo essentially said he, you know, indicated he might want to get caught. There was one cartoon drawing of the police suicide by police, death by police if you will, suicide by cop I think it was put. How significant is it that in the hour was after we don't know the details. But the suspect is talking to police.


DAVIS: Well, it's extremely significant. The fact that he has not retained counsel, and that he's having a conversation will help the prosecution of the case, they'll get facts. Even if they're small issues, they'll get facts that will cement the prosecution against him. At the same time, they're going to be able to drill down a little bit into what he was thinking so that we can try to figure out where we can stop this.

But you know, John, so many times you see a very coordinated plan, well thought out, organized the criminal assault. And then at the end of it, these colleagues have this fantasy that they're going to shoot it out with the police until the police are there. And then they what college do, they just walk away and put their hands up and it is -- it's just unconscionable what this man do.

KING: Coward is a good word, coward, a heinous coward. Peter Licata, Commissioner Davis grateful for your time and your expertise coming out of this. We'll continue to monitor the breaking news story, the tragedy, an Independence Day tragedy in Highland Park, Illinois. We'll be right back.


[12:55:36] KING: Live picture we can show you of the White House, the flag there just lowered to half-staff that in honor of course, the victims and the tragedy in the community of Highland Park yesterday. Too many American communities know what Highland Park, Illinois is experiencing today. Just look at this map, 315 mass shootings nationwide now since the start of the year, that according to the Gun Violence Archive, that's 315 mass shootings in 183 days, the Democratic governor of Illinois says it is past time for Americans to demand action.


GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): If you're angry today, I'm here to tell you be angry. I'm furious. I'm furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence. While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly, yes, weekly American tradition.


KING: With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Lauren Fox, Cleve Wootson of The Washington Post and Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast, the governor Jackie, saying weekly, sadly, it's almost daily, that we're having this conversation.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Truly. And you know, you heard the President addressed this last night in his remarks for the Fourth of July. And he made reference to the bill that he did sign into law fairly recently. But there was some I remember hearing from Democrats as that was moving through the process and going and moving toward passage.

There was some concern that this would be it, that it -- because it really doesn't have any -- it doesn't deal with guns, it doesn't deal with regulating guns, that perhaps something like this, that is sort of along the margins, would give politicians in Washington, the license to say, well, we did something, you're welcome. And yet the problem still exists. And many things are still yet to be done.

KING: Right. The President did just sign landmark on safety legislation, the first pass Congress in three decades. It is more in the mental health and the background checks department. You have another tragedy just north of Chicago in one of America's affluent suburbs, Congress this point in election year, unlikely to do anything else, right?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're not going to touch anything else related to guns, they went as far as they were going to ever go on this package. And it was a remarkable feat that they were able to do something. But I mean, it just shows you the scope of this problem across the country. And the fact that it's not going away, and no matter how much the President or Democrats and Republicans who worked on this piece of legislation may want to celebrate and point to it as an accomplishment. The bottom line is it just does not get at the heart of the problem.

KING: One of the -- if you -- just see that map and, you know, 315 mass shootings in 183 days, and it's largely coast to coast. There are some exceptions. Make that clear. I just want you listen to the mayor here Nancy Rotering in this town. One of the things that has changed, at least in large part not completely is this conversation when we began the year, there are a lot of progressives talking about defund the police. You have a new mayor in New York City who says no, now you have the mayor of a smaller community, Highland Park, Illinois says no.


ROTERING: Look, we've had all these examples in the recent weeks of communities where people were going to the grocery store, people were going to school, people were celebrating the Fourth of July. I think our nation needs to have a true conversation with itself. Because we know that there is not enough police force. There are not enough police or not enough weapons in this world if you've got people who are going to outgun the police with these weapons of war.


KING: I just know from people in town yesterday about whether or not to go downtown for the fireworks. So this is to take the politicians out of it, this is a conversation whatever your views on guns.

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, it's a conversation happening in every community in America. And it's a real pinch point for people who make policy because on one hand, you have people who want comprehensive police reform. You want things to be done better. On the other hand, you deal with something like this. And you see police officers escorting people to safety and health and all of that stuff. And it's hard to make any sort of apples to apples or apples to apples argument about what should be done.

KING: Right. I just want to close with just going back to the two parents who spoke to earlier in the show, Brad Hanson (ph) and Joel Krause (ph) as a parent, their heroism and their poise at that moment was just stunning, stunning, just having the poise to cover your children, pick up your children get away from the scene, just heroes.


FOX: And what struck me about that is that they said they had thought through what they would do in a scenario like this because that is the state of where we are.

KUCINICH: That's where we are. Yes. Parents having to have a plan of action just in case.

FOX: Yes.

KING: Parents having to have a plan of action just in case. Appreciate your time today INSIDE POLITICS. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.