CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Saturday posted $50,000 bail for the father of an Illinois man accused of killing seven people at a July 4 parade who is accused of killing his Helping son get a gun license years before the shooting on a main street in suburban Chicago.
Robert Crimo Jr., 58, looked somber and weary in his first appearance before a judge since he volunteered to police on Friday. His attorney, George M. Gomez, told the judge Saturday that the father of three will be able to pay the bail required for his release.
A rare case of a parent charged after a child was charged in a mass shooting, Crimo faces seven felony counts of reckless behavior – one count for each person fatally shot during the summer parade. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment.
At a brief 10-minute hearing conducted via video link, Lake County Judge Jacquelyn Melius said she accepted an agreement between Crimo’s attorney and prosecutors that bail would be set at $50,000, which is less than the $500,000 bail that could have been imposed.
Gomez told the judge before posting bail that his client had been a business owner for over 30 years and had lifelong ties to the Highland Park community, where the summer mass shooting took place. Prosecutors did not oppose Crimo’s release on bail.
“Mr. Crimo is not a threat to the community. He is not a flight risk,” Gomez said, adding that Crimo has been fully cooperating with authorities since the shooting.
Among the conditions of his release, the judge told Crimo, was that he must turn over all gun licenses and all guns in his home within 24 hours of the hearing. Crimo currently resides in Highwood, a town that borders Highland Park.
When asked by the judge if he could overhear the proceedings via his video link, Crimo said he could – but otherwise made no statements in court.
Judge Melius scheduled his next hearing for January 12.
Lake County Prosecutor Eric Rinehart said Friday the charges against the father were based on Crimo sponsoring his son’s application for a gun license in December 2019. His son was 19 at the time.
“Parents and guardians are in the best position to decide whether their teens should have a gun,” Rinehart said. “In this case, the system failed when Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son. He knew what he knew and he signed the form anyway.”
Authorities previously said accused gunman Robert Crimo III attempted suicide with a machete in April 2019 and was accused by a family member of threatening to “kill anyone” in September 2019.
Those reports came months before Crimo Jr. sponsored his son’s application.
Gomez, the Chicago attorney, called the charges against the father “baseless and unprecedented” in a written statement Friday.
“This decision should concern all single parents in the United States who, according to the Lake County Attorney’s Office, know full well what is happening to their 19-year-old adult children and can be criminally responsible for actions nearly three years later.” said Gomez.
Gomez said his client “continues to feel sorry for and horrible for the individuals and families who have been hurt and who have lost loved ones.” But the attorney called the charges “politically motivated and a distraction from the real change that needs to happen in this country.”
A grand jury in July indicted Robert Crimo III on 21 counts of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated assault, representing the seven dead and dozens injured in the attack on a popular holiday event in Highland Park.
Legal experts have said that a suspected shooter’s parents or guardians are rarely charged – in part because such allegations are difficult to prove.
In a notable exception, a Michigan prosecutor last year filed manslaughter charges against the parents of a teenager accused of fatally shooting four students at his high school. A January hearing in the case has been postponed while the state appeals court reviews an appeal by the parents.
Authorities previously said that Illinois State Police reviewed Crimo III’s December 2019 gun license application and found no reason to deny him because he had no arrests, no criminal record, no serious mental health issues, no protective orders, or other behavior consistent with the law him would disqualify him.
But after the parade shooting, public records showed that Crimo III had attempted suicide with a machete in April 2019, according to a police report from The Associated Press, which noted a “history of attempts.”
In September 2019, police received a report from a family member that Crimo III owned a collection of knives and threatened to “kill everyone”.
Both Crimo III and his mother denied the threat of violence at the time. Police said father Robert Crimo Jr. later told investigators the knives belonged to him and authorities returned them.
Robert Crimo Jr. has appeared at several court hearings for his son this year and nodded a greeting as his son entered the courtroom bound and flanked by guards. The father was a familiar face in Highland Park, where he was once a mayoral candidate and known for running convenience stores.
In media interviews after the shooting, Robert Crimo Jr. had said he did not expect charges and did not believe he did anything wrong in helping his son get a gun license through the state’s established process.
This story corrects paragraph three to reflect that the maximum penalty for any charge is three years in prison, not six.
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