After firing more than 70 rounds during Highland Park’s Independence Day parade Monday, killing seven and injuring dozens, the alleged gunman drove to Madison, Wisconsin and “seriously contemplated” another shooting at an area celebration.
“It appears when he drove to Madison, he was driving around. However, he did see a celebration that was occurring in Madison and seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting,” Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said said following a court hearing Wednesday.
Once arriving in Madison, Covelli said he had approximately 60 rounds of ammunition, though police believe he did not premediate any attack.
“Indications are he did not put enough thought and research into [another shooting],” Covelli said.
The 21-year-old alleged gunman from Monday’s Highland Park Fourth of July parade was ordered held without bond Wednesday.
“He does in fact pose a specific threat to community therefore defendant will be held without bond” the judge said during the hearing.
Tuesday, Attorney Steve Greenberg said his firm — specifically attorney Tom Durkin — had been retained by the family to represent both the suspect and his parents following the shooting.
However, during Wednesday’s hearing, it was noted that Durkin will no longer be representing the suspect due to conflict of interest, and that the shooter now must retain a public defender.
“I want to continue to emphasize that this is an ongoing and active investigation with all of our law enforcement partners,” Covelli said.
“If anyone has any surveillance footage whatsoever of the July 4 Highland Park parade, we would urge them to contact the Highland Park Police Department.”
The next hearing is scheduled for July 28 at 1:30 p.m.
The suspect faces seven counts of first-degree murder with many more criminal charges to come, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Tuesday.
“These are just the first of many charges that will be filed against [the suspect]. Dozens more charges centered around each of the victims,” which Rinehart said included those struck by bullets and those that suffered psychological damage.
The seven counts announced Tuesday would, if convicted, carry a mandatory sentence of life without parole, Rinehart said.
Covelli said the suspect had legally purchased a high-powered rifle before he climbed a fire escape at a business along the suburban Chicago parade route and fired more than 70 times from the rooftop.
A 21-year-old arrested in connection with a mass shooting at a Highland Park Fourth of July parade has been charged with murder, authorities announced Tuesday.
“We do believe [the suspect] pre-planned this attack for several weeks,” Covelli said. “He brought a high-powered rifle to this parade, he accessed the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder and began opening fire on the innocent Independence Day celebration goers.”
Authorities said a gun found at the scene and another rifle found in the vehicle he was driving at the time he was arrested were registered in his name and legally purchased, but a motive for the shooting remains unclear.
Police Had Prior Contacts With The Suspect
Monday’s shooting happened less than three years after police went to the suspect’s home following a call from a family member who said he was threatening “to kill everyone” there.
At that time, Sgt. Covelli said police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no sign he had any guns at the time, in September 2019.
Police in April 2019 also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect, Covelli said.
The suspect legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois within the past year, Covelli said. In all, police said, he purchased five firearms, which were recovered by officers at his father’s home.
Illinois state police, who issue gun owners’ licenses, said the gunman applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19. His father sponsored his application.
At the time “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger” and deny the application, state police said in a statement.
State police say that the suspect passed a series of background checks, and no criminal charges aside from a citation for possession of tobacco by a minor were found on his record.