Seeking clues for a possible motivation, police were combing through the social media profile and published songs of the alleged attacker in the shooting that left at least six dead and 30 wounded in a Chicago suburb on the Fourth of July.
Robert E Crimo III, 22, was detained hours after the shooting Monday as a person of interest in the case, said the police chief of Highland Park, Illinois. Investigators have stopped short of calling Crimo a suspect, but he had posted dozens of videos with ominous songs showing images of himself or cartoon figures holding rifles with threatening messages, piquing authorities’ interest by Tuesday.
YouTube has taken down Crimo’s page, where he was known as Awake the Rapper. Instagram and Twitter have also terminated Crimo’s accounts.
One video shows Crimo sitting in a classroom and then reaching inside his backpack before the screen goes black. The next frame shows Crimo in the same classroom with scattered papers and other objects on the floor as disturbing music plays in the background.
In another video, a stick figure appears to have been shot by police.
The videos contained disturbing lyrics, with Crimo reciting messages such as: “Everything has led up to this. Nothing can stop me, even myself.” His social media pages displayed the logo of a Finnish white supremacist organization called Suomen Sisu.
Police officers equipped with rifles and body armor arrested Crimo after they pulled his car over about five miles north of the mass shooting scene on Monday. Authorities hours earlier had released his photo and an image of his silver Honda Fit.
The Lake county coroner, Jennifer Banek, said the five people killed at the parade were adults, but did not have information on the sixth victim who died after being taken to a hospital.
The shooter opened fire about 10.15am, when the parade was about three-quarters through, according to authorities.
Chris O’Neill of the Highland Park police said the gunman apparently used a “high-powered rifle” to fire from a spot atop a commercial building where he was “very difficult to see”. He said the rifle was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.
“It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” the Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, said at a news briefing.
The shooting comes barely a week after Joe Biden signed into law a bipartisan gun bill intended to prevent dangerous people from accessing firearms. The attack also terrorized a tight-knit suburb of about 30,000 people, once home to the Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan.
It is also where 1980s John Hughes classics such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science were filmed for the big screen.