Nam Y. Huh/AP
CHICAGO — The man accused of opening fire at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago was indicted by a grand jury on 21 counts of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery, representing the seven people killed and dozens injured in the attack on a beloved holiday event.
Prosecutors previously filed seven murder charges against Robert E. Crimo III. They announced the grand jury’s decision on Wednesday to indict him on 117 counts.
Crimo’s attorneys have yet to formally respond to any of the charges he faces in the July 4 shooting in downtown Highland Park, Illinois. A representative from the county’s Office of Public Defenders, which represents Crimo, said Wednesday that he was not commenting. publicly on all cases.
Prosecutors said Crimo, 21, admitted to shooting when police arrested him following an hour-long search on July 4.
Under Illinois law, prosecutors can ask a grand jury to determine if there is probable cause to proceed to trial. Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public and defense attorneys cannot cross-examine witnesses.
The multiple first-degree murder charges allege that Crimo intended to kill, caused death or grievous bodily harm, and acted with a high likelihood of causing death or grievous bodily harm to the seven deceased persons.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that the 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated bodily injury with a firearm represent “each victim who was hit by a bullet, bullet fragment or shrapnel” .
“I want to thank law enforcement and prosecutors who presented evidence to the grand jury today,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement. “Our investigation is ongoing and our victim specialists are working around the clock to support everyone affected by this crime which has resulted in 117 charges being filed.”
Authorities said the injured ranged in age from 8 to 80, including an 8-year-old boy who was paralyzed from the waist down when the shooting 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 abuse suffered by his family and others has taught them “to see the incredibly generous, caring, kind spirit and kind that makes up the vast majority of our world.”
Keely Roberts has described her son, Cooper Roberts, as “athletic” and “fun-loving”, but said he has a long way to go. Cooper was shot in the back. The bullet passed through his body, severely damaging his aorta, liver, esophagus and spinal cord before exiting through his chest.
Cooper has undergone multiple surgeries and is paralyzed from the waist down.
Cooper’s twin brother, Luke, was lightly injured by shrapnel, but his mother worries about the impact of seeing her twin so badly injured. She also suffered a leg injury.
Roberts said she still sees a bright future ahead of Cooper and thanked bystanders who helped the family following the shooting, as well as health care providers and other first responders.
“He’s going to teach a lot of people that the lesson isn’t just one person did this horrible thing,” she said. “The lesson here is that thousands of people have done great things, nice things, and are still doing nice things.”
At a hearing presenting the murder charges, prosecutors said police found more than 80 spent shell casings on the roof of a building along the parade route and the semi-automatic rifle used in the attack on the ground nearby.
Investigators believe Crimo mingled with the fleeing crowd to get away from the scene, then borrowed his mother’s car and briefly contemplated a second attack at a celebration in Madison, Wisconsin, before return to Illinois where the police arrested him.
Crimo is due in court on August 3.