Robert Crimo’s family member was ‘afraid to go home’ after 2019 death threat

Illinois State Police released the redacted police report from September 2019 as officials face questions over why Highland Park shooter Robert Crimo was able to legally purchase multiple firearms

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 07 July 2022 15:48 BST
Daughter of Highland Park shooting victim describes moment her mother was shot
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One of Highland Park shooter Robert Crimo’s family members was left too “afraid to go home” after the suspected mass murderer threatened to “kill everyone” back in 2019, according to a bombshell police report.

In the redacted case report from the 5 September 2019 incident, officers revealed how then-18-year-old Mr Crimo admitted he was depressed and had a history of drug use when he allegedly made threats to kill his family.

Police confiscated a trove of knives from his bedroom at the time including a 24-inch Samurai type sword, a 12-inch dagger and a tin lunch box with 16 hand knives – which were then collected just four hours later by Mr Crimo’s father Bob Crimo.

The incident in September also came five months after police were called to the home for the first time that April when Mr Crimo allegedly tried to kill himself.

But, despite the warning signs about Mr Crimo’s disturbing behaviour, he was approved for a state firearm permit just four months after the threats to kill his family.

Illinois State Police (ISP) released the case report on Wednesday night as questions continue to mount around why the 21-year-old accused gunman was able to legally purchase multiple firearms.

On Monday, he allegedly took one of those firearms and murdered seven people in a mass shooting at a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

According to the newly-released police report, at around 10am on Thursday 5 September 2019, officers responded to a wellbeing check at the suspect’s home after Mr Crimo “had made a threat in the household” that Monday where he had “stated that he was going to kill everyone”.

The victim, whose identity is redacted as they were a juvenile at the time, said that they were “afraid to go home due to the nature of this threat” and because there was “a collection of knives in [Mr Crimo’s] bedroom”.

Mr Crimo has a younger brother who was a juvenile at the time. He also has an older half-sister Lynette Pesina who – as a 24-year-old adult at the time – was listed as a witness to the alleged incident. A 28-year-old woman – whose identity was also redacted – is listed as the person who made the initial complaint to police.

When officers spoke to Mr Crimo and his mother Denise Pesina at the home, the then-18-year-old admitted that he was “depressed” on the Monday of the alleged threats and had a history of drug use, the report says.

Robert Crimo seen in his first court appearance over the Highland Park massacre

Neither Mr Crimo nor his mother were forthcoming to the officers about what exactly he had said to the minor victim on the Monday, the officers said.

When asked if he felt like harming himself or others, Mr Crimo told the officers “no”, the report states.

Mr Crimo’s father Bob Crimo – who made a failed run for mayor against current Mayor Nancy Rotering – then allegedly told the officers that the aformentioned trove of knives, Samurai sword and the dagger belonged to him and that he had just been keeping them in his son’s bedroom closet “for safekeeping”.

The officers told the 18-year-old to contact them if he needed police or medical assistance in future while Ms Pesina was informed that the state’s Department of Children and Family Services would be in contact following the incident.

Just over four hours later, at around 2.15pm, the report says that Bob Crimo then showed up to take back the stash of knives.

While Highland Police officers said there was no probable cause to arrest Mr Crimo over the alleged threats, they did send a clear and present danger report to Illinois State Police.

Clear and present danger reporting is a system put in place in the Illinois State Police department in 1990 to determine whether law enforcement should revoke or deny an FOID (Firearm Owner’s Identification) card – the permit Illinois residents must have to be able to buy or possess firearms in the state.

ISP is responsible for approving or blocking state residents from buying and owning firearms by approving, denying and revoking FOID cards.

Residents must meet a list of criteria to qualify for an ID card including that they 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 five years, that they are not subject of an existing Order of Protection or a No Contact/No Stalking Order, and that they are a convicted felon.

Police release an image of the gun allegedly used in the attack

In the clear and present danger report sent by Highland Park Police to ISP, the officers wrote that Mr Crimo poses “a clear and present danger in that they demonstrate threatening physical or verbal behaviour, such as violent, suicidal, or assaultive threats, actions, or other behaviours”.

The report also detailed the collection of knives found at the home, Mr Crimo’s admission of drug use and that he had claimed he was depressed at the time of making the threat “to kill everyone”.

ISP said in a press release that at the time of the report Mr Crimo did not have a FOID or a pending application and the “available evidence would have been insufficient for law enforcement to seek a firearm restraining order”.

Mr Crimo and his mother also disputed the threats of violence, he claimed he didn’t plan to hurt himself or others, this father said the knives were his and so “there was insufficient information for a clear and present danger determination”.

Just three months after family members reported him for allegedly threatening to kill them, Mr Crimo applied for his first FOID card in December.

As he was under the age of 21 at the time, state law required him to have the consent of a parent or guardian.

His father sponsored the application, despite the threats his son had allegedly made to the lives of both his family members and himself just months earlier.

And, in January 2020, the ISP approved it.

ISP said in a media release that when it reviewed the application that January “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application”.

A relative of victim Nicholas Toledo is comforted at a vigil on Wednesday night

After he was granted approval to legally possess firearms and ammunition in the state of Illinois at the age of 19, Mr Crimo went on to pass four federal background checks while purchasing firearms.

These checks are done through the Firearms Transaction Inquiry Program (FTIP), which includes the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The suspect bought his first firearm on 9 June 2020, followed by two more purchases the following month – on 18 and 31 July 2020.

He then made another purchase on 20 September 2021.

One of those firearms was the high-powered Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle he allegedly used in Monday’s attack to gun down parade-goers from a sniper position on a nearby roof.

Officials are now facing questions around whether warning signs were missed about the alleged shooter, after he also posted several disturbing videos glorifying violence, firearms and mass shootings online prior to the attack.

Law enforcement officials said that they were not aware of the online content prior to Monday’s attack.

Seven victims were killed in the mass shooting as Mr Crimo opened fire during what should have been a family-friendly celebration.

The 21-year-old was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday. Prosecutors said more charges will be filed in the coming days.

If convicted of the charges, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is scheduled to appear in court next on 28 July.

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