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Suspected Highland Park shooter pleads not guilty to all charges

The 21-year-old accused of killing seven people at a Chicago suburb’s Independence Day parade pleaded not guilty to all 117 felony counts against him.

CHICAGO (CN) — Robert Crimo III, the alleged gunman in the Fourth of July mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, pleaded not guilty on all counts in a Wednesday morning arraignment.

The 21-year-old former YouTube rapper faces 117 felony counts related to the shooting that killed seven people and injured more than 40 others, including multiple counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery. A Highland Park native himself, Crimo is accused of firing more than 80 rounds from a high-powered rifle into a crowd attending an Independence Day parade in the Chicago suburb from the rooftop of a building along the parade route.

According to the coroners' offices for Lake and Cook counties, the seven people who were either killed in the shooting or died later of their injuries are Irina and Kevin McCarthy, 35 and 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Katherine Goldstein, 64; Eduardo Uvaldo, 69; Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78; and Stephen Straus, 88.

Highland Park police have claimed that besides the seven people that died in or shortly after the shooting, Crimo's victims include people of all ages, including an 8-year-old boy named Cooper Roberts who was shot in the spine and left paralyzed from the waist down. Another 2-year-old boy, Aiden McCarthy, son of Irina and Kevin, was left orphaned by the shooting.

During the arraignment on Wednesday, which lasted less than 15 minutes, presiding Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti informed Crimo of the potential sentence he could face on conviction - including spending the rest of his life in prison. Crimo, wearing a face mask and chained at the waist, said he understood.

Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart first announced on July 5 that his office was charging Crimo with seven counts of first-degree murder, but also made it clear that these were only the first of many anticipated charges.

"These are just the first of many charges that will be filed against Mr. Crimo," Rinehart said the day after the shooting. "I want to emphasize that. There will be more charges."

A Lake County grand jury made good on that promise last Wednesday, bringing an additional 110 state felony counts to bear on the suspected shooter. Crimo does not yet face any federal charges. Northern Illinois U.S. Attorney John Lausch previously declined to comment on whether his office would eventually prosecute him.

The Lake County Public Defender's Office, which is representing Crimo, also declined to comment on Wednesday.

Besides the charges Crimo himself faces, there has also been speculation that Crimo's parents, Robert Crimo Jr. and Denise Pesina, may face criminal charges for facilitating his legal purchase of several firearms, including the rifle allegedly used in the mass shooting, between 2020 and 2021. Crimo was 19 and 20 when he procured the weapons, and Illinois state law requires anyone younger than 21 to have the sponsorship of a parent or guardian to purchase firearms or apply for an Illinois Firearm Owner ID card.

Crimo's parents helped him get his FOID card despite an incident in September 2019 when Highland Park police responded to a call that Crimo had reportedly threated to "kill everyone" in his home with knives. The police did not arrest Crimo following that call, but confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from him and filed a report determining he posed “a clear and present danger to [himself] or others.”

Delilah Garcia, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police, confirmed earlier in July that the incident did not affect Crimo's successful FOID card application.

However, the incident did spur Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to direct the Illinois State Police to enact a policy change intended to make it easier for them to reject FOID card applications. The change directs state police to more broadly use "clear and present danger" reports to bar applicants from receiving a FOID card, or to revoke an existing FOID card.

George Gomez, an attorney representing Crimo's parents, said in July that he believed criminal charges against them are unlikely.

Crimo's parents attended the arraignment but declined to speak with reporters. Gomez said they deeply regret the actions their son had allegedly taken.

"They’re heartbroken by what happened in that tragic event," Gomez said. "They’re here to express their sorrows.”

No trial date has yet been set for Crimo's case. His next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 11 a.m.

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