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The Situation Room
Death Toll Rises To Seven In Highland Park Mass Shooting; Trump Allies Giuliani, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Subpoenaed In Georgia Election Probe; News Conference On Illinois Parade Shooting; Holiday Parade Mass Shooting Suspect Charged With 7 Counts Of First Degree Murder. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 05, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities may announce charges against the suspect this hour. Stand by.
Also tonight, a powerful new allegation in the probe of the Uvalde, Texas shooting massacre. The city's mayor telling CNN that he believes local law enforcement is involved in what's being described as a cover-up.
And high-profile Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Senator Lindsey Graham are slapped with subpoenas. It's a significant, new escalation in the investigation of the former president's effort to undermine Georgia's election results.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're standing by for a possible, a possible announcement of charges against the Highland Park mass shooting suspect. Police indicated it could happen this hour as they reveal new information, explosive information, about the accused gunman.
CNN's Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin has details.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Lake County Sheriff's Office reveals two incidents involving the suspect, Bobby Crimo. The first in April of 2019, a suicide attempt that was handled by mental health professionals.
DEPUTY CHIEF CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: The second occurred in September of 2019. A family member reported that Crimo said he was going to kill everyone and Crimo had a collection of knives. The police responded to his residence. The police removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from Crimo's home. At that time, there was no probably cause to arrest. There were no complaints that were signed by any of the victims.
GRIFFIN: Police say the suspected shooter preplanned his attack and get away for several weeks, leaving his high-powered rifle behind, dressing as a woman and slipping away with the retreating crowds. It was that rifle purchased legally and traced back to him that helped police identify the suspect, track down his mother's car and make this arrest.
COVELLI: At this point, we have not developed a motive from him.
GRIFFIN: While police search for a reason, it turns out there were warning signs posted all across social media, music videos with dark images depicting violence, a school shooting and a cartoon of a stick figure apparently meant to be the suspect, face down in a pool of blood in a shootout with police.
The actual suspect was arrested without shots fired after the shooting. Former classmates tell CNN in high school he was withdrawn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very quiet. He didn't talk that much. And when he did talk, he seemed very gentle. He didn't seem like aggressive or anything at all. It was very shocking, especially that somebody I know, very heartbreaking. And I never thought that it could happen in my town or especially somebody that I even know at all.
GRIFFIN: Despite the social media posts, an uncle who lived with the suspect told CNN and Chicago T.V. station WFLD his nephew was not violent.
PAUL CRIMO, SUSPECT'S UNCLE: There were no warning signs, as I saw. I saw him yesterday evening, and I went home, I said hi to him. And then when I came back downstairs, I said, bye. He said, bye. That was normal standard. I mean, I see nothing that would trigger him doing this.
GRIFFIN: And the weapon? Do you have any idea where he acquired the weapon?
CRIMO: I'm not sure. I don't know.
GRIFFIN (on camera): So, even though the uncle told us that, now we know, Wolf, there were major red flags in this case, a suicide attempt, threats on his family, the collection of his knives taken away, including a dagger and a sword and these disturbing social media posts. Yet despite all of this, legally cleared to buy guns, including the gun police say he used to gun down seven people and injured 30 more at this July Fourth parade. Wolf?
BLITZER: A horrible situation. Drew Griffin reporting for us in Highland Park, thank you very much.
Let's discuss what's going on. Joining us now, our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, and the former Secret Service agent, Jonathan Wackrow. Also joining us, a witness to the actual shooting in Highland, the Chicago Sun-Times Washington bureau chief, Lynn Sweet. She was at the parade when the shots rang out. Let's start with you, Andrew. Let me get your analysis of these new details just released from police. The suspect had not one but two prior contacts with police, including one that stemmed from a threat he made to, quote, kill everyone.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, Wolf. These are excruciating to learn after the fact and they raise a lot of interesting questions.
The first are whether or not they were handled correct legally and whether there were any results or whether is there any fallout from those interactions that would have prevented him from buying a handgun or any firearm. And I think that the resounding answer to that is no.
So, the first interaction was involved, they responded to his house after he had threatened to commit suicide. Under the Brady Act, you can only be turned down from buying a firearm if you have been adjudicated a mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution. That clearly didn't happen in that interaction. So, it wouldn't have prevented him from buying a gun.
And later, responding to the house, seizing the knives because the family was in some danger, again, there's no legal obligation or effect that would prohibit him from then buying a firearm. It does raise good questions about why the family didn't take maybe further aggressive action against him, trying to get him some help, some mental help to address some of these issues. But I'm afraid, legally, there was not much to go on there.
BLITZER: That's a good point. Jonathan Wackrow, what does it say to you that the suspect had a disguise of women's clothing available as well as an escape plan to avoid being immediately captured?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, listen, this was a premeditated and very calculated attack. And when we look at these attack elements, we look at the cover that was used, this disguise to blend into the crowd easily and not to be, you know -- have any attribution made to who he is. He had very noticeable features with the tattoos. This disguise covered that up.
But also thinking about like the attack position, going to an elevated position on the roof to attack, essentially a crowd that was really contained. They were channeled within that parade route, so, really, trying to garner that tactical advantage.
And then you think about the escape plan. This was not an attack where he, you know, was going to make a last stand and die. This attack was planned for him to escape, utilizing that women's clothing. Thinking about the elements of escaping within the crowd as they fled is a more calculated attack plan than we've actually seen recently. So, all of this leads us that premeditation of this attacker.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. Lynn Sweet, you were there in Highland Park at the parade when the shooting unfolded. Based on what you saw, Lynn, does it seem plausible to you that a gunman disguised in women's clothing could have blended in with the crowd and escaped during the chaos?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Immediately after the shooting, Wolf, people fled. I observed a sea of people coming. I was on the eastern side of the central avenue scene of the parade behind us.
I do want to bring up one quick thing. For all the planning that -- or the person of interest, the police said that he (INAUDIBLE). And it was that weapon that cracked the case. And if you leave a weapon with a serial number on it, you more or less would be able to leave a driver's license.
But to your immediate question, yes, people were just running east and west to get out of the parade route. No one was paying attention to anyone who was around them. No one was talking. People were fleeing.
BLITZER: We're standing by this hour, Lynn. We're told there's going to be a news conference. Local authorities are going to make, we were told, presumably an announcement involving possible charges against this person of interest or suspect, whatever you want to call him. What do you make of that?
SWEET: Well, I make it that the Lake County state's attorney is being careful and methodical. Their FBI agents have been combing the scene behind me since early morning. There's a few clues we think that we know what they're looking for, packs (ph) and everything that's out here. And behind me, still a few hundred feet from the viewing sandwiches where, sad to say, I did observe most of the bodies and the injured.
So, if you wait a day, maybe two, before you bring charges, the suspect is apprehended, he's not going anywhere. So, what I take it in their caution is to just take their time and get the charges right or make a decision. They maybe put one charge out now and save others for later depending on their legal analysis.
BLITZER: Andrew, we don't know much about the suspect's motive, at least at this point. How are authorities going to figure out why he allegedly carried out this mass murder?
MCCABE: Well, you know, the first thing they'll do, Wolf, is they'll try to talk to him.
And also delaying the charges against him gives the police officers and investigators more time to engage with him personally if he hasn't invoked his right to counsel. It gives them a chance to build some rapport with him to possibly get him to open up and explain some of those things. And they'll be looking at everything he's written, everything he's said, his communications with other people, combing through social media, which we know he had a wide presence on social media, looking at all that stuff to try to piece together a picture of what was happening in this kid's life, what pushed him to take this horrible act yesterday.
BLITZER: Jonathan, now that the suspect is in custody, in police custody, what's the next step in this investigation?
WACKROW: Well, look, investigators are going to try to understand the pathway to violence for this individual. As Andy had just stated before, they're going the try to figure out what type of grievances this individual had to try to piece together what the motive was. We know that he has had violent ideations online through his social media. We also want to know is that influencing others. Is this leading to a potential copycat attack anywhere else of people who have the same ideas? They really want to know the research and planning that went into it. We talked about this being a premeditated attack, but we want to know the level of planning that went into that.
And then we also want to think about you know, what led him from these online ideations to actually taking the physical action to go and kill other human beings. Again, tragic event, investigators have a lot in front of them but they're working through it quickly.
BLITZER: Jonathan Wackrow, thanks very much. Andrew McCabe, thanks to you as well. Lynn Sweet, I'm so happy you're okay. Thanks so much for joining us.
Just ahead, we're standing by for the news conference in Highland Park, Illinois. We'll have live coverage, see if there is announcement about charges.
Also, Rudy Giuliani and Senator Lindsey Graham are now hit with new subpoenas in the investigation of former President Trump's efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia. So, what does it mean for Trump and his inner circle? We have details when we come back.
BLITZER: Tonight, the investigation of former President Trump's efforts to try to overturn the Georgia presidential election results is heat egging up big time with the new subpoenas for Rudy Giuliani and Senator Lindsey Graham among others.
CNN Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles is working the story. Ryan, this is certainly a significant escalation of this investigation in Georgia.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no doubt about that, Wolf. But if you were to put out a list of names that you think the Fulton County district attorney may be interested in as it relates to the investigation of the possible attempt to overturn the Georgia election results, it would be this list. And in particular, the names John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani and, of course, the senator, Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina stand out.
All three of them were actively involved in a pressure campaign that was specifically put on the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, and others to try and either investigate claims of fraud in Georgia that just did not have a ton of merit behind them or, in some case, just encourage is secretary of state to stand in the way of the certification of the election results and also involve the state legislature there in Georgia.
So, this is something that's been ongoing for some time. We know that a grand jury has been empanelled in Georgia. And this is one of the places where the former president, Donald Trump, and some of his closest associates could be at the most criminal risk is in the state of Georgia.
BLITZER: I understand we're also just getting some information about a new witness who's agreed to testify publicly in front of the January 6th select committee. What can you tell us?
NOBLES: Yes, and it's a significant one, Wolf. CNN learning that Sarah Matthews, who was the former deputy press secretary in the Trump administration, was there on January 6th and then resigned shortly after because she was upset with the way the former president and his staff handled January 6th, has agreed to testify publicly at an upcoming hearing.
Now, we don't expect it to be a part of next Tuesday's hearing, which was just announced a few minutes ago by the committee. That hearing will focus on domestic extremism and white nationalism and its ties to the Trump White House. Sarah Matthews could be involved more in a hearing that focuses on Trump's lack of attention to what was happening on January 6th. She, of course, is among the former Trump White House allies who have rushed to the defense of Cassidy Hutchinson, the star witness that we saw at the last hearing, Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Ryan, I also want to ask you about somebody that the committee member, Adam Kinzinger, posted today on Twitter. It's a compilation of multiple violent voicemails he and his family have been receiving. What are you learning about that?
NOBLES: Yes. This is something that is happening a lot more, Wolf, and it's something that we've heard -- at least we've heard that it's happened to them before. But to hear it in the way it's actually been sent to his office is something pretty stark. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess I can't say a whole lot more other than I hope you naturally die as quickly as (BLEEP) possible you (BLEEP) piece of (BLEEP).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You back stabbing (BLEEP). You go against Trump you all know you all (BLEEP) are sitting up there lying like a (BLEEP) dog.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey you little (BLEEP). Going to come protest in front of your house this weekend. We know where your family is and we're going to get you, you little (BLEEP).
(END VIDEO CLIP) NOBLES: It's pretty chilling, Wolf, especially when you consider there are direct threats to Kinzinger and his family. He has a young baby and, of course, a wife who are now targets of this vitriol.
The other point that Kinzinger made in posting this Twitter video is that the recipients of these voicemail messages are usually his staff interns. And these are young people, either high school or college age, getting their first experience on Capitol Hill and the legislative process, and this is the kind of filth that they're forced to deal with. Wolf?
BLITZER: Let's hope he has good security. All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you very much.
Let's bring in CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, the former assistant U.S. attorney, Elie Honig.
Elie, how legally perilous is this new development for the former president, the subpoenas that have been issued in Georgia?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, these subpoenas show me that Georgia prosecutors have their sights set squarely on Donald J. Trump. And I say that because when prosecutors issue subpoenas, you typically do not subpoena someone who you see as a target, somebody who you're likely to charge. You subpoena somebody where you think that their testimony is necessary and valuable.
And if we look at the seven people who were subpoenaed today, the one thing that unifies them all is Donald Trump. They all work either with or for Trump in his effort to upset the election results in Georgia. So, I think that's impossible to ignore and it seems to me that what they're trying to do is get witnesses who can testify about Donald Trump. We don't know if he'll be indicted but that seems to be the goal here.
BLITZER: Some of Trump's allies, as you know, Elie, have successfully dodged subpoenas from the January 6 select committee, but what's going on in Georgia is a criminal investigation. That's a completely different situation, right?
HONIG: Yes, whole different ball game here. We've gotten used to these congressional subpoenas, which some people have brushed off with no consequences. That will not work here in the grand jury context. Really, the people who got these subpoenas only have the following options. One, they can comply and testify, two, they can go to court and say these subpoenas are invalid somehow. I don't think they have much of a chance of succeeding there. Three, they can take the Fifth Amendment. We've already seen John Eastman, for example, take the Fifth Amendment, in other context. Or, four, some of these people are attorneys, they can claim attorney/client privilege. But let's remember there's an exception if the communications relate to an ongoing crime.
So, ultimately, I think all of these people are going to have to testify under these subpoenas.
BLITZER: What do you make, Elie, of those awful, very disturbing threats, the voice mail, we just played some of that just released by Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, the threats that are going against him and his family?
HONIG: Yes, Wolf. Well, on a human level, they're grotesque and they're chilling. On a legal level, look a person is entitled to petition government to complain even in aggressive or inflammatory ways. However, many of those voice mails, perhaps all of them, cross the line. It is a federal crime to threaten a public official, a federal official, including, of course, a sitting member of the House.
I think it's an easy call listening to those voice mails that they cross that line into the realm of criminal threat. So, if prosecutors can figure out who made those calls, there could be real, legal consequences.
BLITZER: And I suspect they can trace those calls, but we shall see. Elie Honig, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, we expect a news conference momentarily in Highland Park, Illinois. And as the death toll there rises now to seven, most of the shooting victims have now been identified.
BLITZER: We're standing by for a possible announcement of criminal charges against the mass shooting suspect in Highland Park, Illinois. We'll have a live coverage as soon as it begins. We're told it will begin very, very soon. And this comes as a seventh person has now died in the July Fourth mass attack.
CNN's Senior National Correspondent Miguel Marquez has more on the lives lost and a community that's grieving.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The death toll now at least seven dead, dozens more injured and the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois.
JOHN WHITEHEAD, WITNESS: 20 to 30 pops, right, which were shots.
MARQUEZ: One after the other.
WHITEHEAD: Pop, pop, pop, pop, had no clue that it was a gun.
As soon as I recognized everyone running, I knew it had to have been a shooter.
MARQUEZ: America's latest tragedy leaving yet another community stunned. Of the seven killed, the Lake County coroner says five adults died at the scene and two at the hospital. JENNIFER BANEK, LAKE COUNTY CORONER: It is with a heavy heart that I bring to you the names of the victims of that tragedy, 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein of Highland Park, 35-year-old Irina McCarthy of Highland Park, 37-year-old Kevin McCarthy of Highland Park, 63-year- old Jacquelyn Sundheim of Highland Park, 88-year-old Stephen Straus of Highland Park, 78-year-old Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza of Morelos, Mexico.
MARQUEZ: The seventh victim has not been identified. The family of 78-year-old Nicolas Toledo says the father of eight and grandfather to many had been visiting his family in Highland Park from Mexico. They described him as a loving man who was creative, adventurous, and funny.
63-year-old Jacki Sundheim was a lifelong congregant and a staff member at a nearby synagogue serving as preschool teacher and events coordinator. In a statement, the North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe saying there are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki's death and sympathy for her family and loved ones.
A total of 39 patients were taken to four area hospitals. 26 went to Highland Park hospital ranging in age from 8 to 85. Nine patients now remain hospitalized. John Whitehead teaches history at a local school. Mass shootings now a part of American history, explaining it nearly impossible.
To be that close to this seemingly uniquely American activity, this thing, what do you make of it?
WHITEHEAD: It makes me want to throw up every time I think about it. These families have been ruined. This town will bounce back and we will get back to where we are, but for right now, it's time to mourn and take care of the families that were affected.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Wolf, I want to show you just how eerie and disturbing the scene is here in Highland Park. John, who you just head there at the end of that story, he was just down the street here. You can see the debris left over from this. It is an eerie reminder of just how quick all of this happened, how violent and how chaotic this was. Two of the people dead who were killed here, Irina and Kevin McCarthy, they were here with their two-year-old son, Aidan. He was found here. Both his parents are now gone. Wolf?
BLITZER: So heartbreaking, indeed. Miguel Marquez on the scene for us in Highland Park, thank you very much.
Survivors of the deadly July Fourth attack in Highland Park are speaking out about what they actually saw.
Joining us now, Illinois Congressman Brad Schneider, who was at the parade before the shooting began. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. I just want to let you know we're expecting momentarily this news conference in Highland Park to begin. We're going to go to it. We anticipate that they will be making an announcement possibly of criminal charges against the suspect, this person of interest. So, if I interrupt you, that's why we're going to be interrupting you.
REP. BRAD SCHNEIDER (D-IL): Absolutely.
BLITZER: Let me get your reaction to the major news tonight. Police now say they have not one but two prior contacts with the suspect, including an incident where knives and a sword were seized from his home after he actually threatened to, quote, kill everyone. What's your reaction, Congressman, when you hear that?
I'll get your reaction later. The news conference is beginning. So, let's listen.
COVELLI: -- including states attorney Eric Rinehart. He's the state's attorney for Lake County. FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr., ATF Group Supervisor Jorge A. Resindo (ph), U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, Highland Park Chief of Police Lou Jogmen. And we'll begin with state's attorney, Eric Rinehart.
ERIC RINEHART, LAKE COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: Good evening. My name is Eric Rinehart. I'm the Lake County State's Attorney. As a resident Highland Park myself, my family and I grieve with our neighbors over this unimaginable tragedy. On behalf of the state's attorney's office, I want to express my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives yesterday in this premeditated and calculated attack.
Separate from those seven lives that were ripped away over two dozen other mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and neighbors were injured. Hundreds, if not, thousands will be psychologically scarred by yesterday's events. These individuals, our community, and Lake County will never be the same.
We are grateful to the unbelievably courageous law enforcement officers who were there when the shots were fired right here in this pathway. They and other law enforcement agencies from throughout the state came to this spot of danger. They came to help. They came to protect. They came to comfort. And they came to investigate.
Federal agencies including the FBI, ATF and U.S. Attorney's Office have also been critical partners in this investigation and you will hear a bit more from them this evening. These officers not only ran towards the danger but worked tirelessly throughout the day and night to investigate and solve this case.
I want to also thank all of the community members and business members and leaders who provided us with dozens of videos and photos. We continue our requests for those photos and videos. This is still an open and active investigation. Please continue to contact all of the tip lines that we have suggested.
To those who are physically and psychologically suffering today in hospitals and in homes throughout our community, we offer our most fervent and urgent prayers. We offer prayers for healing even though it feels that it may be so far away.
I know that Mayor Rotering and Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen, Lake County and our federal partners have already started the critical work of supporting the individuals who need us so much while they are in the throes of trauma. Today, our office deployed victim witness counselors and licensed therapists also to Highland Park. Dozens of private individuals have volunteered to help.
This has been one of the most uplifting things I have ever seen in Lake County's history. The community has come together even in the throes of trauma.
The loss of life and these devastating injuries and the overwhelming psychological trauma demand we seek justice and that we take broader action to protect life.
Today, the Lake County State's Attorney's Office has charged Robert Crimo III with seven counts of first degree murder for the killing spree that he has unleashed against our community. These are just the first of many charges that will be filed against Mr. Crimo. I want to emphasize that. There will be more charges.
We anticipate dozens of more charges centering around each of the victims, psychological victims, physical victims, attempt murder charges, aggravated charges, aggravated battery charges. There will be dozens more charges against Mr. Crimo. But these seven counts of first degree murder will lead to a mandatory life sentence should he be convicted without the possibility of parole.
None of these charges would be possible again without the unbelievable efforts of law enforcement. I cannot thank them enough. I have to thank the men and women of the Lake County State's Attorney's Office who have been working with law enforcement since the moment that we identified a suspect. We continue to work with our federal partners to understand every aspect of this well orchestrated and carefully planned crime. Tomorrow morning at the Lake County Courthouse, we will ask a judge to hold Mr. Crimo without the possibility of bail.
As I mentioned our support for victims started today, both from the state's attorney's office, from the mayor's office, from the city of Highland Park, from the police department, from the FBI victim assistance group. We will guide them through the court process and deal with the trauma that will ripple forever outside of the courtrooms.
But how do we make sure that there are no more victims? What should have been a celebration of freedom has ended in despair for our community. All of the people who died steps from here lost their freedom, all of it. Every ounce of freedom that they had, the freedom to love, the freedom to learn and the freedom to live a full life, their freedom matters, too. We must do more as we think and reflect upon their freedom on this July 5th. Illinois has a strong red flag law that keeps communities safe and respects everyone's rights. We must vastly increase awareness and education about this red flag law called the Illinois firearm restraining order.
The goal of this tool is to ensure the safety of the individual and those around them. It allows courts to temporarily remove guns and prevent the purchase of new guns by individuals who pose a significant threat.
As I said, this tool allows temporary removal from the subject and prohibits the new purchase during the duration of the order. It allows the individuals to stabilize their behavior, seek treatment and access other resources that our community must invest in to give those who need help.
But separate from these red flag laws, which are very powerful in Illinois, we should also ban assault weapons in Illinois and beyond. The assault weapon ban was implemented in 1994 with bipartisan support and with the support of law enforcement. It lasted for ten years. And studies have shown that mass shootings like what happened yesterday went down during those ten years. We should have that same ban in Illinois and beyond, in the entire country.
The Lake County State's Attorney's Office stands with the people of Highland Park. As I said earlier, this is where I am raising my family also. Our violent crimes unit will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners to continue to build this case. As I said, it is an active and ongoing investigation. Our victim services unit will answer every question, every text, every phone call and every concern. We will stand with the survivors of this awful crime for as long as necessary.
In the courtroom, we will seek the maximum sentence against this offender not because we seek vengeance but because justice and the healing process demand it.
As we go forward in the courtroom and in the community, we must do everything we can to make sure the horror that marked these streets that echoed from these buildings, never happens again.
Thank you very much. At this time, I would introduce U.S. attorney and really our partner in this investigation so far, U.S. Attorney John Lausch.
JOHN R. LAUSCH JR., U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NORTHERN ILLINOIS: Thank you. My name is John Lausch. I'm the United States attorney here in the Northern District of Illinois.
I want to echo some of the same words we just heard from State's Attorney Rineart and commend all of the law enforcement partners and agencies who are represented here today, in all of our first responders, for everything they did to bravely put their lives on the line to help others in need. Our office, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and our other Department of Justice components, most notably the FBI and the ATF, have been working very closely with our state and local law enforcement partners to investigate this horrific attack. We have been and we will be remain in regular communication with these partners and in particular the Lake County State's Attorney's Office. And I've been in regular contact with State's Attorney Rinehart since the beginning of this investigation.
These state murder charges are appropriate at this time. We will continue to deploy our federal resources in collaboration with these state and local partners to ensure that individuals who commit horrific acts of violence like this using firearms are held accountable.
And with that, I'd like to turn it over to the chief of the Highland Park Police Department, Lou Jogmen.
CHIEF LOU JOGMEN, HIGHLAND PARK POLICE: The last approximately 36 hours have been a lesson in the duality of humanity. While the actions that brought us all together exposed the cruelty and callousness that one person could show to people he did not know in taking their lives, the unwavering commitment of our Highland Park team, the drive and determination of those who assisted us in making this arrest and the outpouring of love and support from the community and from people across the nation and the globe have shown us the best in humanity, the American spirit throughout this response to this horrific and absolutely senseless act of violence.
We would not be standing here this afternoon announcing the arrest of this suspect without the assistance of countless law enforcement agencies from multiple counties, from the Illinois State Police, FBI, ATF, NIPUS (ph), Lake County Coroner's Office, the hospital staff, our medical community, and Deputy Chief Chris Covelli of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. Thank you.
To the Highland Park community, your strength has buoyed our team through the darkest moments. To our city of Highland Park team, the fire department, public works, our City Manager's Office, our finance and our community development departments, your contributions have been invaluable and we thank you.
To Mayor Rotering and the City Council, thank you for your sustained engagement and unwavering support. And to the men and women with whom I serve alongside of in the Highland Park Police Department, it is an honor and a privilege to serve with you. Your commitment and determination to see justice served for this community inspires me. I am proud of Illinois law enforcement.
At this time, I would like to introduce Lake County Sheriff Deputy Chief Chris Covelli, who's been a spokesperson for the Major Crime Assistance Team.
COVELLI: Thank you, Chief. I'm just going to read a brief statement on behalf of the victim service response team of the FBI. Beginning tomorrow, the FBI's victim service response team will be working in conjunction with local, state and federal aid groups to staff a family assistance center. At the family assistance center, victims will be offered trauma counseling, government aid assistance and, if necessary, financial assistance.
Victims are not just those physically injured in yesterday's events but also those experiencing emotional distress. The center will open tomorrow, July 6th, at noon. Victims of yesterday's incident are invited to access available services at the Highland Park High School, and that's located 433 Vine Avenue in Highland Park. The family assistance center will be available from noon tomorrow until 9:00 P.M., Thursday and Friday from 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M., and thereafter as needed. Additional information regarding the return of personal effects left at the scene will also be released tomorrow.
With that, we are going to open it up for some questions. I would just ask for a little bit of patience.
We have a lot of stakeholders that are joining us today so we can filter who is best to answer each of the questions asked.
REPORTER: Chris, could we ask a question to the state's attorney?
REPORTER: Mr. State Attorney, you went out of your way to note the red flag laws. We now know this individual had contacts with law enforcement in 2019, where in one of the contacts he said he wanted to kill everyone in his family, a number of knives were taken from him at that time.
Should that have been a qualifying of end of the red flag law, which would've prevented him from buying firearms in 2020 and 2021?
RINEHART: We have to look at every case on a case by case basis. I don't know the internal process of the Illinois State Police in terms of after that report was taken. We know there was not an application for a FOID pending at the time. The current red flag laws give a process, you have a process where things are reported to Illinois state police, with respect to FOIDs, and then you have the red flag laws, which is what I was referring to, which were passed in 2019 and are effective in 2019, in terms of getting a court order, where family members and other individuals who know the person at issue have to go to court.
So, my reference to the red flag laws refers to that regime. With respect to the Illinois state police, that has to do with the FOID application process.
REPORTER: If I'm hearing you're right, what you're saying is, possibly disqualifying events were the point of fact, before he actually applied for a FOID, obtain a FOID and purchase --
RINEHART: I would definitely refer all of those questions to the state police in terms of that internal process back in 2019.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) the timeline. Does this mean he had a legal guardian who sponsored his FOID card, legal guardian who was responsible -- if so, are you looking to charges --
RINEHART: I'm absolutely not going to get into that level of detail on the investigation in our process.
REPORTER: I have a question. And probably multiple people could take it. (INAUDIBLE) as a woman -- do you have any theory why so many (INAUDIBLE)]
RINEHART: I'm not going to --
COVELLI: Investigators are very thoroughly looking at every aspect of this. There are a number of theories at the table as to why he left his weapon there. I don't want to speculate at this point. There is still a lot of investigative work to go. But that is something investigator looking into.
COVELLI: That is very possible. It's very clear to investigators, he attempted to blend in with the rest of the victims, who were fleeing the scene, carrying a rifle, I will imagine wouldn't allow someone to blended very well.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) to the identity of the person who owns it?
COVELLI: The weapon led to him directly.
COVELLI: Investigators are still looking into that. They are still looking at many different angles. We do know he went on a drive, following the events, but as to why, it's not something I can get into right now.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) at this point, state charges (INAUDIBLE)
LAUSCH: The best answer for that is to echo the same points that were made. This is an ongoing investigation and it really would be appropriate for me to comment any further at this time. But the charges right now, these are very appropriate charges.
LAUSCH: You should not read anything into it one way or another. It would not be appropriate for me to comment one way or the other whether or not there will be federal charges.
LAUSCH: There is a lot packed into that question. Here is what I will say. The partners that are here, and in particular, FBI and ATF are the ones that are standing with me. They work every single day in order to mitigate threats that they learn of. And this is a particular instance when we have the horrific attack that happened yesterday. They came right away in order to help law enforcement, ultimately, be able to bring the appropriate charges and state court.
But again, at this point, it's fair to say, this is an ongoing investigation. This is an ongoing investigation. I'm very proud to be up here with my colleagues from the Lake County state attorney's office. But it really wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment any further about whether or not any federal charges are likely. Thank you.
REPORTER: Could you give us any further clarification on the weapons. Where he obtained them and what the enumeration is?
COVELLI: So, what I know firsthand at my time is that two weapons were maintained in the region here. Those were the two rifles. The rifle used in the attack was purchased by him.
And I just want to follow up on the question that you asked earlier. It's important to know, Highland Park police, when they responded to that 2019 incident, they removed the weapons that Crimo possessed. There were no firearms at that time to be removed. So, as the states attorney said, the red flag laws, there were no red flag laws to go after firearms in that home at that time.
REPORTER: Now, you said the rifles were obtained in the region, but there were two rifles and four handguns?
COVELLI: I can't say four handguns, there were a total of five guns. Five firearms that he possessed.
REPORTER: What about the rifles? You said the two rifles in the regions. What (INAUDIBLE).
COVELLI: They were bought in Illinois. I have to get specifics as to exactly where.
REPORTER: He got the FOID card before he was 21. Is that true?
REPORTER: That means he was sponsored by a legal guardian?
COVELLI: I don't want to speak to the process of the Illinois state police. I don't have enough of their internal information to accurately respond.
COVELLI: Again, Highland Park police notified Illinois state police. Where it goes from there, I do not want to speak to that.
COVELLI: At this point, we don't have reason to believe that they may have known things, but the investigation is still very active. Investigators have a lot of like work to do. When I will say is that investigators have spoken to the family. I don't want to gauge their level of cooperation, one way or another.
COVELLI: The magazines held approximately 30 rounds of a rifle ammunition.
REPORTER: How many magazines where there?
BLITZER: All right, it looks like they're wrapping up. This is a very important news conference in Highland Park, Illinois.
And the headline, of course, the Lake County State Attorney Eric Rinehart announcing seven counts will be filed, first degree murder charges. There will be more charges that will be filed. They said, dozens of additional charges are expected down the road.
As of right now, if convicted, a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole, if convicted, mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Representative Brad Schneider, the congressman who represents this district in Highland Park, is still with us.
Congressman, let me get your reaction to what we just heard.
Congressman, hold on for a moment. Now, you are okay.
All right. Go ahead. Let me get your reaction to what we just heard.
REP. BRAD SCHNEIDER (D-IL): Thank you. I am still processing what I heard. Plus, the fact that it is a young couple -- and grandparents. Grandfather of eight visiting his family in Highland Park from Mexico. These are all families that will never be the same, shattered and a life destroyed.
But I am pleased that the charges came back quickly and that the charges carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole. I think that is appropriate, if convicted, here. And I am grateful, as other said, the performance of law enforcement. I have been saying that since this happened.
Watching the police officers in the parade, turning around and running to the victims immediately, seeing the support from area first responders, police and fire department from other communities coming to help in Highland Park, as well as the federal agencies.
And watching and appreciating the professionalism with which they identified the suspect located and they apprehended him. And now, within 36 hours, we have charges. There's a lot of people working very hard and the leadership is to be applauded and greatly appreciated.
BLITZER: Yeah, they are moving very quickly.
Congressman Brad Schneider, thank you very much. Standby.
I want to bring in Andrew McCabe, our senior law enforcement analyst, former FBI deputy director.
What's your reaction?
MCCABE: Well, really interesting, Wolf. I was drawn to the questions about whether or not the red flag laws could have been used in a second incident in 2019. We know that the Illinois red flag laws passed were affective on January 1st of 2019. Police went to his residence. He had a number of -- they seized a number of bladed weapons, but no firearms at the time.
Now, the police could have gone to the court and requested a red flag removal, which would've had the effect of prohibiting him from purchasing a gun after that. But likely they figure they did not have to do that because he didn't have any guns at the time. But that really highlights how important it is for them to publicize the existence of these laws and how family members can use them.
Because this is really one of our only chances of stopping something like this in the future.
BLITZER: Elie Honig is with us as well.
Elie, we did hear from the U.S. attorney in the northern district of Illinois, John Lausch, who say they're still considering whether federal charges will be filed as well.
What do you think?
HONIG: Well, Wolf, these are state charges, first of all. I think the most important thing we take out of this is that the shooter is very unlikely to ever get out of prison for the rest of his life. Each of the seven counts carries a potential sentence of life in prison, no early release.
Whether there will be federal charges, you need some sort of federal hook here. The most likely federal hook in a case like this would be if there was some sort of hate motive. However, it's important to note, Illinois does have a hate crimes statute. They have not charge that yet, which tells me that as of this point, they don't have evidence that the motive here was based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation. So, if there is no such motive, that I don't believe there will be
federal charges, but the way things are lining up at this point, it's almost certain this person is going to spend the rest of his life behind bars, solely on the state charges.
BLITZER: Jonathan Wackrow is with us as well, our CNN law enforcement analyst, former Secret Service agent.
We did hear them say that this was a well-orchestrated and carefully considered crime. And they don't -- tomorrow, when he goes before a judge, they don't want any possibility of bail. I assume this guy is going to not get any bail, right?
WACKROW: Absolutely. I mean, I don't see any charge in the world that is going to allow this individual to be released. I mean, think about the tone that was set during this press conference. The states attorney came out right away and said that this was premeditated and a calculated attack, and then, focused on the charges.
But more importantly, Wolf, focused on the victims and that that, aside from the seven counts of first degree murder, more charges will be forthcoming and those charges will be centered around the victim. This press conference did transition into how are we going to take care of the victims of this community? We talked about the victims advocates and the resources that are going to be available for them. That is a big component in turning and focusing on the healing process for this community.
We have a suspect in custody. He is being charged. He's not getting out of jail. Now, let's start the healing process for these victims and at this press conference really set the tone for that today.
BLITZER: And just to be precise, Andrew McCabe, in April of 2019, police were called to the house. He was apparently the suspect threatening suicide. And then, in September of 2019, police were also called to his presidents, said he was threatening to, quote, kill everyone. That is when they found a whole bunch of knives, and other weapons. No guns. The guns came in later.
The red flag laws -- we kept hearing about these red flag laws. But apparently, he purchased these weapons legally, even after these two incidents had occurred, which raises at least in my mind, I'm sure in yours too, a lot of questions.
MCCABE: It really does, Wolf. It just highlights to how hard it is to exclude someone from the ability to purchase a firearm. Neither of those two incidents raised to the level of an excluder. Under the Brady Act, there's only about 10 or 11 of them, and one of them is if you've been adjudicated a mental defective.
Bottom line is, nobody had ever gone to court and stood in front of a judge and made the argument that Mr. Crimo should be committed to a mental institution or officially ruled mentally defective. Had that happened, he would never have been able to pass a background check to buy a firearm. But that is an incredibly high standard. The red flag law is an
attempt to create a somewhat lower, more mediate standard. Any police officer or family member can go and say, hey, this person has made aggressive comments or threatened people or what have you, acted aggressively, and your weapons under Illinois law can be taken away for two weeks, at least two weeks. And you can't buy any firearms during that period.
But again, in a September incident, he didn't have any firearms. They took the knives and swords away that he had. I'm sure they thought that the danger had passed for that moment. Little did anyone know, he then went out to purchase two rifles and I believe, three additional handguns.
BLITZER: Yeah, and he did it legally in the state of Illinois.
Guys, thank you very, very much. We will continue to stay on top of the story for sure.
Finally, tonight, we are of course thinking of the seven wonderful innocent people killed in the highland shooting on July 4th and we are also thinking of their families. We now know most of their names. We reported on earlier.
They are wonderful, wonderful people like Irina and Kevin McCarthy, the parents of a toddler. Nicolas Toledo, a loving father and grandfather. Jacki Sundheim who worshipped and worked at a nearby synagogue, near Highland Park.
May they all, may they all who were killed in this family, rest in peace. And as we say, may their memories be a blessing.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.