Accused parade shooter's dad says he doesn't regret sponsoring FOID card, says system needs overhaul

Robert Crimo, Jr. says shooting took him 'by complete surprise.'

ByMark Rivera, Eric Horng, and Maher Kawash WLS logo
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Accused parade shooter's dad says he raised son with 'good morals'
Robert Crimo, Jr., the father of Highland Park parade shooting suspect Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, said he raised his son with "good morals."

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Robert Crimo, Jr., the father of suspected Highland Park parade shooter Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, said he does not regret sponsoring his son for a FOID card that allowed him to legally purchase weapons -- even after incidents that raised red flags with police.

This, as a criminal investigation is planning to look into any culpability he may have in this tragedy.

Crimo Jr. described the entire situation as a nightmare, saying the family is just as shocked because he believes his son was raised with good morals.

SEE ALSO | 'This isn't the parent's fault': Accused Highland Park shooter's parents 'distraught," attorney says

"You know, I'm just in upheaval. Of everything. Emotions. I mean, it's just. It's numbing and I don't know how else to explain it. Like I'm in a bad dream right now," he said.

Crimo Jr. said he never expected this of his son, who now sits in custody accused of massacring parade-goers on the Fourth of July in Highland Park, killing seven people.

"As a father, I pretty much lost a son," Crimo Jr. said.

He spoke publicly for the first time in an exclusive phone interview with ABC News.

Listen to full interview

Robert Crimo, Jr., the father of Highland Park parade shooting suspect Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, spoke exclusively to ABC News, saying his son was raised with "good morals."

Crimo, Jr. said he knew his son was in possession of a handgun, saying that he showed it to him, but said he did not know his son had purchased at least five weapons, including two high-powered rifles.

He also said that since Monday, he and his family have been getting death threats.

Crimo Jr., a 2018 candidate for mayor of Highland Park, said he had talked to his son the night before the shooting.

"Thirteen hours earlier, I spent almost an hour with them sitting in the yard talking about the planet, the atmosphere and nothing. Great mood. I'm just shocked," Crimo Jr. said. "I think, three days before the fourth, my wife had asked him, 'hey, do you have any plans for the fourth?' And he simply said, 'no.'"

Crimo Jr. said he doesn't know the motive behind his son's actions.

"That's what I'd like to ask him when I see him. I mean there, this kind of definitive act is a senseless act of violence. There's no need for it," Crimo Jr. said. "I had no, not an inkling of warning that something like this was going to happen."

RELATED: Highland Park parade shooting suspect planned for weeks; gun legally purchased, authorities say

But his son was known to police.

In April 2019, the same month the elder Crimo ran for Highland Park mayor and lost, a police report shows Bobby's mother told officers her son "attempted to commit suicide by machete" and that he had a "history of attempts."

The Highland Park Police Department determined that the alleged Fourth of July massacre suspect posed "clear and present danger" after a family member claimed he was threatening to "kill everyone" in September 2019, a newly released police record shows.

Police ultimately removed a 24-inch Samurai sword and numerous knives from the young Crimo's room. They were later returned to the father, who said he was living elsewhere at the time.

The father downplayed threats his son made in 2019 to kill others, likening it to a child's outburst.

HERE: Redacted Highland Park Police Report From September 2019 Released

He said that didn't change his mind about his son owning a gun, leaving it up to the vetting process.

"Making threats to the family -- I think it's taken on a context where it's like just a child's outburst, whatever he was upset about," Crimo Jr. said.

It was just three months later that Crimo Jr. sponsored his son's under-21 firearm owners ID card, which was approved by Illinois State Police and renewed when Bobby turned 21.

When asked whether he feels guilt about sponsoring his son for a FOID card after several incidents that raised red flags with police, he said, "Guilty. No, he did it all on his own."

SEE ALSO | 'This isn't the parent's fault': Accused Highland Park shooter's parents 'distraught," attorney says

He said he doesn't regret helping his son get a FOID card because he was following the law.

"You know, he went through the legal process. I don't know if it's guilt. I feel horrible as to what happened. Beyond horrible," Crimo Jr. added.

However, he didn't get a FOID card on his own. To go through the legal process for gun ownership at 19, Crimo III needed a sponsor, vouching that he wasn't a threat.

"I filled out the consent form to allow my son to go through the process that the Illinois State Police have in place for an individual to obtain a FOID card. Like that's all it was, a consent form to allow my son to go through the process. They do background checks," Crimo Jr. said.

Illinois State Police are now investigating Crimo Jr. and his culpability for signing the consent form for his son.

RELATED: Illinois red flag laws: How the parade shooter fell though the cracks

"It'll be up to the courts and this process to decide what was appropriate and what was not in this circumstance," ISP Director Brendan Kelly said Wednesday.

"It won't be easy because he wasn't a minor when he pulled the trigger, the son, and because they'd have to show the dad really was reckless in signing off on this application," said ABC7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer.

"Like, that's all it was ... a consent form to allow my son to go through the process. They do background checks. Whatever that entails, I'm not exactly sure. And either you're approved or denied. And he was approved and prior, right before 2021," Crimo Jr. said.

Crimo Jr. said his son purchased the guns on his own and registered them in his own name.

WATCH: Could suspected parade shooter's father face charges?

The father of the suspected Highland Park parade shooter is under investigation as authorities say he sponsored his son's application to get a gun. ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams explains what charges he could face.

In the meantime, the father said he hasn't stopped thinking about the victims since the shooting.

"My heart goes out to them. I just I can only imagine losing a family member at a parade or a child that doesn't have their parents? It's horrific," Crimo Jr. said.

Crimo Jr. also strongly denied rumors of his son suffering from abuse at home.

He also wasn't concerned by the social media posts his son made in the past, saying he hadn't seen them all and figured they had to do with his music.

ALSO SEE: 'Screaming out for help': Highland Park shooting suspect's social media littered with hatred

Highland Park parade shooting suspect Robert "Bobby" Crimo III's social media was littered with violence and hatred, the ABC7 I-Team has learned.

"I love my son, but it's, it's devastating to everyone involved. Anyone who was, who passed away, injured, psychologically damaged, hearing the gunfire -- there were little children. It's a horrific act. I would never want to see that happen again. That's why we need to do something about it. I think the whole system has to be overhauled," Crimo Jr. said.

As this community is working to heal, ABC7 has learned that police were called to the Crimo home a number of times since 2002 for domestic incidents. Few involved the suspected shooter.

The Crimo family's lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said Thursday night he is no longer representing them due to a conflict.

He said attorney George Gomez is their new counsel.

ABC News contributed to this report.