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Father of Highland Park shooting suspect charged with reckless conduct

Prosecutors in Illinois announced felony charges Friday against the father of the man accused of killing seven people and injuring more than 40 during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

Robert Crimo Jr. was charged with seven counts of reckless conduct, said Eric Rinehart (D), Lake County’s state attorney, who accused him of taking an “unjustified risk” in signing his son’s gun ownership application in 2019. Because Robert E. Crimo III was younger than 21 at the time, state law required him to have parental consent.

“Parents and guardians are in the best position to decide whether their teenagers should have a weapon,” Rinehart said. “They are the first line of defense.”

The elder Crimo turned himself in and faces up to three years in jail. His bond hearing is scheduled for Saturday.

In July, a grand jury indicted his son with 117 felony counts, including first-degree murder. The younger Crimo faces a life sentence in prison.

The issue of charging parents criminally in instances of mass killings is likely to be contentious, and an attorney said the family will fight the charges.

Illinois State Police in July said the younger Crimo had at least two encounters with law enforcement months before he applied for a gun permit. In April 2019, he had attempted suicide, and that September police seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from his home after a family member informed them he had threatened to “kill everyone.”

George M. Gomez, an attorney for the elder Crimo, said in a statement to the Associated Press that the charges were “baseless and unprecedented.”

“This decision should alarm every single parent in the United States of America who according to the Lake County State’s Attorney knows exactly what is going on with their 19 year old adult children and can be held criminally liable for actions taken nearly three years later,” the statement said. “These charges are absurd and we will fight them every step of the way.

The younger Crimo was arrested hours after the shooting and investigators said he confessed to the carnage, though he later pleaded not guilty. He allegedly fired more than 80 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon from a rooftop and then fled the scene disguised in women’s clothing. Officials said he considered carrying out another shooting in Wisconsin in the following hours.

The victims of the deadly attack included a grandfather, a preschool teacher and parents of a toddler.

Rinehart, the Lake County state attorney, said people need to bear responsibility for endangering others.

“For too long, we’ve allowed gun violence to destroy lives and neighborhoods. We have allowed a cloud of fear to hang over every part of American life,” he said.

This is at least the second instance in the past year when law enforcement has sought to hold accountable the parents of mass-killing suspects. In December 2021, the parents of a teenager accused of shooting four students at a high school were arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter in Michigan.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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