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Highland Park mass shooting suspect got FOID card despite previous encounters with police

Gunman in Highland Park mass shooting had made previous threats of violence
Gunman in Highland Park mass shooting had made previous threats of violence 02:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The suspect in Monday's deadly mass shooting in Highland Park threatened to "kill everyone" with knives and swords in 2019, which raises the question of how Bobby Crimo was able to obtain a FOID card in 2020.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey has been digging into that part of the investigation.

Illinois State Police defended how the suspect was able to get a FOID card in 2020, just four months after Highland Park Police were called to his home after he threatened to kill his family with his collection of knives and swords.

CBS 2 has learned Bobby Crimo passed four different background checks between June of 2020 and September of 2021. The only thing that came up was a 2016 for violation for possessing tobacco.

His history is being called into question because police records show police records show that in September 2019, a family member called police after Bobby Crimo said he was going "kill everyone." 

"Crimo said he was going to kill everyone and Crimo had a collection of knives. The police responded to his residence. The police removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from Crimo's home. At that time, there was no probable cause to arrest. There were no complaints that were assigned by any of the victims," said Chris Covelli, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.

Illinois State Police said family didn't tell law enforcement about any mental health concerns, no Firearms Restraining Order was filed, and no one asked for an order of protection.

"It's important to note Highland Park police, when they responded to that 2019 incident, they removed the weapons that Crimo possessed," Covelli said.

Highland Park mass shooting suspect got FOID card despite previous encounters with police 01:43

Police took the weapons, but Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said the process stopped there.

"We must vastly increase awareness and education about this red flag law called the Illinois Firearm Restraining Order," he said.

He's talking about a tool in Illinois for loved ones of gun-owning family members showing violent tendencies to have those weapons temporarily removed.

But state police said, because the family didn't raise those concern when Crimo went to apply for a FOID card just a few months later, there was insufficient evidence to deny him.

Not only did the family not raise those concerns, his father sponsored his application — a requirement for applicants under the age of 21.

As we now know, Crimo would go on to legally buy two high-powered rifles similar to an AR -15, in addition to several pistols that were later recovered at his home.

So, could the suspect's dad face charges in the shooting?

"I am absolutely not going to get into that level of detail on the investigation and our process," Rinehart said.

Again, the only offense on Crimo's criminal history before he was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder in the mass shooting was a possession of tobacco violation.

The high-powered rifle recovered at the scene shot "high velocity rounds," similar to an AR -15, investigators said. Police on Tuesday said approximately 45 people were shot, including seven who died.

The city of Highland Park did enact a ban on assault rifles in 2013, which was challenged legally — all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately passed on hearing the case, allowing the ban to remain in place.

"If a ban on semiautomatic guns and large capacity magazines reduces the perceived risk from a mass shooting, and makes the public feel safer as a result, that's a substantial benefit," the Supreme Court's ruling stated.

The ban regulates "the possession or ownership of assault weapons" in the city, but it doesn't say anything about regulation or anything about people bringing guns from outside cities — like Highwood, where Crimo lives.

The ban carries a punishment of up to six months prison time or fines for violations of the ordinance.

There are still plenty of questions about how the shooter was able to transport the weapon to the parade route unnoticed.

Investigators said the women's clothing that he was wearing may have helped him conceal it, but they're still hammering out those details.

The suspect spent his freshman year at Highland Park High School, but left in August of 2016. A spokesperson would not comment on the circumstances of his departure.

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