Highland Park Mass Shooting: Reckoning for City and School Leaders
Much blame to go around from Monday's horrific events, but decisions by area officials must be scrutinized
Monday, on the 4th of July, a 22-year-old man named Robert E. Crimo III made a decision.
He decided to shoot a weapon – a high-powered rifle – in a crowd of people at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, IL. The bullets fired killed six people and injured many others. The tranquil innocence of a peaceful, celebratory day was forever shattered, lives irrevocably changed.
No one more than Crimo is responsible for the killings. Taken into custody alive, he will face his punishment.
If we’ve learned anything from the rash of mass shootings in this country – 309 this calendar year thus far – is that the choice by the shooter to fire a weapon with the intent to kill, while in the moment impulsive, is almost always pre-meditated in some form.
Two recent examples:
Two months ago, a man drove 200 miles to fire 60 shots into a Buffalo grocery store, killing 10.
Later in May in Texas, an 18-year-old man got into a car accident, walked to a school, gained access to the building and shot and killed 21 students and teachers.
Tuesday, authorities revealed how Crimo, the Highland Park shooter, bought his gun legally and “pre-planned the attack for weeks” before firing more than 70 rounds into the crowd from a roof. Chris Covelli, a spokesperson with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said investigators have not determined a motive.
In all of these incidents, clues from the murderer’s digital footprint were left well before the tragedies – online threats, gun and ammunition purchases and a life of desolate isolation. No one intervened.
Authorities investigating the Highland Park mass shooting are discovering similar behavior patterns from Crimo.
But there’s something different about what happened Monday. Bone-chilling different.
Crimo grew up close to the location where the shootings took place. He didn’t drive hundreds of miles with the intent to murder people in a town or city where he had no affinity.
At the time of the shooting Monday, Crimo lived in an apartment in Highwood, a neighboring town. He could have walked to the parade. His father reportedly owned a business in the area and ran for mayor of Highland Park in 2019.
The current mayor of Highland Park, Nancy Rotering, told the “Today” show Tuesday that she was a Cub Scout leader of Crimo when he was a child.
This information all leads towards a disturbing reality – Crimo assassinated six people on the same streets where he was raised, where he was a Cub Scout. Did he once march in the same July 4th parade wearing the uniform?
How does that happen? How does someone from this environment choose to kill?
That’s a question we all as Americans should be asking.
But if I’m a Highland Park resident, I’m truly struggling with the how and the why.
And I’m mad as hell at local politicians and school leaders for decisions made since March of 2020.
Here’s a list:
In January 2022, Highland Park City Council votes to extend restaurant-specific vaccine mandate. Residents couldn’t enter a restaurant without showing proof of vaccination. It’s the only mandate of its kind in Lake County.
A quote from the owner of the Bluegrass, a restaurant in Highland Park: “As a family-owned business, turning away families with unvaccinated kids has been really tough on us.”
That same month of January, local reports say the city had a 40% commercial business vacancy rate.
District 113, the district of Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools, deny in-person learning to students until after the start of the second semester of the 2020-21 school year. The same for secondary schools in the area.
District leaders are early investors in SHIELD tests for students and faculty in the fall of 2020. Dr. Bruce Law, superintendent of D113, offers testimonial on SHIELD promotional brochure: “We’ve added SHIELD testing as another layer of mitigation to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission low. Because the test can detect positive cases when an infected person’s viral load is low as well as detect those who are asymptomatic, SHIELD has been a critical component of reopening school and in giving parents the confidence to send their students to school.”
In January, the D113 Board of Education votes to require COVID booster shots for faculty.
School board leaders are late to reverse masking requirement in schools, even after Gov. Pritzker’s removal of unlawful statewide mandate in late February.
What does this pattern tell us about the City of Highland Park?
That it’s a town led by frightened people. Those in charge encourage a diseased-like culture and residents – not all – accept Covidian Order like a Cultist Doctrine.
We’re going to hear a lot about guns in the coming days and weeks (we already have from Pritzker, who didn’t blame the shooter during his absurdly daft speech Monday). The politicians want to make it about guns because it’s a base issue and a legitimate societal problem.
(There are plenty with Trump Derangement Syndrome who will take the online images of the shooter at Trump rallies and conclude it’s Trump’s fault. There have been hundreds of thousands of people – more likely millions – at Trump rallies over the years. Almost all of them don’t buy assault rifles and shoot them into crowds of people.)
Here’s an idea for a conversation other than gun control – how about analyzing the environment this young man was exposed to the past few years?
The Buffalo shooter, captured alive and in custody, had a mental health case footprint. A spokesperson for the Mental Health Association in New York told a news outlet that factors leading up to a mass shooting must be looked at with a broad scope:
We have to look at all the societal influences here, not just about a mental health issue. Obviously someone is unwell to do what he did. But there are also about 11, 12 mitigating factors.
Access to guns is one of those ‘mitigating factors’, yes.
But the overwhelming majority of gun owners – even those who own AR-15’s – don’t turn their rifles into WMD’s.
They don’t kill innocent people watching a celebratory parade.
And they don’t murder on the streets of their hometown.
Said Mayor Rotering on “Today” about Crimo: “He was just a little boy. It’s one of those things where you step back and you say, ‘What happened? How did somebody become this angry, this hateful, to then take it out on innocent people who literally were just having a family day out.”
We all as Americans are again reminded of how we should feel about mass shootings becoming a common occurrence in 2022.
But for leaders of the City of Highland Park, they must look in the mirror and own up to their negligent decision-making leading up to Monday’s dreadful day.
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