July 4 parade shooting suspect slipped past Illinois “red flag” safeguards

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The man charged with killing seven people at a Chicago-area July Fourth parade slipped past the safeguards of an Illinois “red flag” law designed to prevent people deemed to have violent tendencies from getting guns, officials revealed on Tuesday.

The disclosures raised questions about the adequacy of the state’s “red flag” laws even as a prosecutor lauded the system as “strong” during a news conference announcing seven first-degree murder charges against the 21-year-old suspect, Robert, E. Crimo III.

Sergeant Chris Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said earlier in the day that Mr Crimo had legally purchased a total of five guns, including the suspected murder weapon, despite having come to law enforcement’s attention twice for behavior suggesting he might harm himself or others.

The first instance was an April 2019 emergency 911 call reporting the man had attempted suicide, followed in September of that year by a police visit regarding alleged threats “to kill everyone” that he had directed at family members, the Sergeant said. According to him, police responding to the second incident seized a collection of 16 knives, a dagger, and a sword from Mr Crimo’s home in Highland Park, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where the shooting occurred on Monday. But no arrest was made as authorities at the time lacked probable cause to take him into custody.

“There were no complaints that were signed by any of the victims,” Mr Covelli explained. State police also said no relative or anyone else was willing ”to move forward with a formal complaint” or to provide “information on threats or mental health that would have allowed law enforcement to take additional action.”

Background checks passed

Three months later, at age 19, Mr Crimo applied for his first FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) card, under his father’s sponsorship. But because no firearm restraining order or other court action against Mr Crimo had ever been sought, “there was an insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application,” state police said.

According to the services, Mr Crimo passed four background checks in the purchase of his guns, all of them conducted in 2020 and 2021, well after the 2019 incidents that drew police attention. A number of US politicians in both parties have urged more widespread enactment and enforcement of “red flag” laws, which typically enable courts to issue restraining orders allowing authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals, or to prevent them from buying weapons, when they are deemed to pose a significant threat to themselves or others.

But Reinhart, the state’s attorney who charged Mr Crimo on Tuesday, was at a loss to explain how the man could be permitted to obtain weapons without the alleged 2019 threat legally and “clear and present danger” report triggering the state’s “red flag” measures.

Congress last month passed a national gun reform bill including provisions to provide federal funding to states that administer red flag statutes.