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Father who helped alleged Highland Park July 4 parade shooter get gun license pleads not guilty in reckless conduct case

Robert Crimo Jr., wearing an unbuttoned white collared shirt and gray suit coat, looks over his right arm as his lawyer George Gomez takes notes. Gomez is wearing a dark blue suit and red tie.

Robert E. Crimo Jr., right, watches his attorney George Gomez make notes during his appearance before Judge George D. Strickland at the Lake County Courthouse, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Waukegan, Ill. Crimo, the father of a man charged with fatally shooting seven people at a Fourth of July parade in suburban Chicago, entered a not guilty plea to charges that he helped his son obtain a gun license years before the attack. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, Pool)

The father of the Illinois man accused of carrying out a massacre during an Independence Day parade has pleaded not guilty to charges linking him to the attack.

Robert Crimo Jr. was indicted Wednesday on eight counts alleging reckless conduct for helping his son, Robert Crimo III, get an identification card that enabled him to own guns and ammunition as a teen. Crimo III is accused of using a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle in a July 4, 2022 attack on a parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

Seven people were killed and dozens were injured. Crimo was 21 years old at the time.

The indictment alleges that on or around Dec. 16, 2019, Crimo Jr. “recklessly performed an act,” Lake County Judge George D. Strickland said. “You signed, as a sponsor, the parent/legal guardian Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card affidavit for your son, allowing him to obtain a FOID card he was not otherwise allowed to obtain and therefore allowing your son, Robert Crimo III, to acquire a firearm.”

Crimo Jr.’s alleged recklessness “occurred at such a time that you were aware your son had expressed violent ideation,” the judge also said.

At this, Crimo Jr. could be seen briefly shaking his head as the judge read from the indictment. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Local ABC affiliate WLS had reported that an April 2019 police report shows that Crimo III’s mother told police that he had “attempted to commit suicide by machete” and that he had a “history of attempts,” according to WLS.

That September, a member of Crimo III’s family reportedly alerted police that Crimo had a knife collection and that he had said he was going to “kill everyone,” WLS also reported. Officials confiscated more than a dozen knives, along with a dagger and a sword, from Crimo’s home at the time.

In July, the month after the shooting, Crimo III told WLS that he doesn’t regret helping his son get the FOID card.

In going through the charges at Thursday’s hearing, Strickland said the names of the victims as he announced each count: Jacquelyn Sundheim, Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, Katherine Goldstein, Irina McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy, Steven Strauss, and Eduardo Uvaldo.

Strickland noted that each charge is a felony punishable by one to three years in prison, six months of supervised release, a maximum fine of $50,000, and “periodic imprisonment” of up to 18 months.

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The elder Crimo’s indictment comes weeks after prosecutors told Lake County Circuit Judge George Strickland that a grand jury was reviewing evidence.

Crimo Jr., who was arrested in December, has said he helped his son get a FOID card, which Illinois law requires for gun ownerships. Normally only people over age 21 can get a card, but a guardian can sponsor someone under that age, as Crimo Jr. has openly admitted he has done.

Crimo III has been charged with murder and has remained behind bars as his case proceeds.

You can read the indictment of Crimo Jr. here.

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