The Highland Park Police Department seized “16 Knives, a dagger, and a sword” from the suspect accused of shooting at a July 4 Parade in Highland Park, Illinois, three years before his rampage.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Sergent Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force said that Highland Park law enforcement officials had two prior contacts with the suspected shooter.
The Highland Park police department was called to the suspect’s home in April 2019 after learning that he had tried to commit suicide. Covelli noted that the report was delayed, so law enforcement responded to the suicide attempt “a week later.”
Covelli added that because mental health professionals were handling the matter at that time, “there was no law enforcement action to be taken.”
Highland Park police officers also visited the suspect’s home a second time in September 2019 after the suspect threatened to “kill everyone” in his home.
“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,” Covelli said. “The police responded to his residence. The police removed 16 Knives, a dagger, and a sword from Crimo home.”
Covelli said that law enforcement did not arrest the suspect because the victims did not sign any complaints and because “at that time there was no probable cause to arrest.”
The Highland Park Police Department did notify the Illinois State Police of the second visit to the suspect’s home, according to Covelli.
One of the suspect’s former Highland Park High School classmates told NBC that the suspect’s past was littered with “a lot of red flags.”
Another classmate claimed that “everybody knew” the suspect “was off,” but added that he “never actually gave signs that he was capable of that degree of violence.”
With law enforcement’s multiple visits to his home and his former classmates’ accounts of the suspect, many social media skiers wondered how the suspect was able to purchase the firearms he used to carry out the shooting in light of Illinois’ Firearms Ownership Identification requirements.
“These are the eligibility requirements for a Firearms Ownership Identification (FOID) card in Illinois, which are issued by the Illinois State Police,” Bloomberg’s Madison Muller tweeted. “Officials said that Crimo purchased his firearms after two mental health-related incidents with HP police (no charges filed).”
Some of the eligibility requirements are as follows: “I have not been a patient in a mental institution or any part of a medical facility for the treatment of mental illness within the past 5 years,” and “I have not been adjudicated by a court as a mental defective or ordered by a court, board or authorized entity to in-patient or out-patient mental health treatment.”
As Covelli explained during Tuesday’s press conference, the suspect’s September 2019 interaction with law enforcement did not rise to the level where it was necessary to commit him to the hospital involuntarily.
So the question is the response to this September incident. The police responded. The police can’t make an arrest unless there is probable cause to make an arrest or somebody is willing to sign complaints regarding their arrest. Absent those things, the police don’t have the power to detain somebody. Now, if there is an issue where there is the necessity to involuntarily commit somebody to the hospital, that’s an option, but that wasn’t an option. At that time, it didn’t fall in that category. But nonetheless, Highland Park Police did notify the Illinois State Police of that.
When asked about whether red flag laws would have prevented the suspect from being able to purchase the firearms used in the attack, Covelli encouraged individuals to “notify the social media network” about questionable content posted by someone and then to “notify local law enforcement.”
Covelli added that at the time law enforcement seized the knives from the suspect’s home, “There was no information that he possessed any firearms.”
“So at that time, there was no information that he possessed any firearms, any rifles. Would that be enough If he’s making threats? It’s it’s it’s a case by case basis. I don’t want to speak broadly to the issue,” Covelli said. “It depends on the circumstances. There are circumstances where law enforcement does have that authority to obtain a seizure order. But it is situationally dependent every single time.”