(NewsNation) — The parents of the alleged Highland Park parade shooter retained a lawyer and released a statement Thursday, sending their thoughts and prayers to those impacted by the tragedy.
Robert Crimo III, 21, faces seven counts of first-degree murder. Multiple other charges are expected to be handed down in connection with the shooting.
The attorneys representing the Crimo family are from the same law office defending singer R. Kelly. Could Crimo III’s parents face any legal responsibility in the Highland Park shooting?
A criminal defense attorney tells NewsNation the father may face charges in the case. The accused gunman was known to authorities after two separate incidents in 2019. First, after authorities responded in April 2019 to a suicide attempt. Then five months later, a family member called police saying Robert Crimo III threatened to “kill everyone” in the home.
State police said officers found knives during the call but they turned them over to the father. Despite these warning signs, just months later, state police say Crimo III’s father sponsored his son’s gun license the following December.
The attorney for the parents said exclusively on NewsNation they were completely blindsided by the Highland Park attack.
“They have disputed that he was ever suicidal, that they ever claimed he was suicidal, and they also dispute that he ever threatened to kill everyone. The information that I gleaned from law enforcement authorities and from speaking with the parents is they didn’t do anything wrong. They are just as shocked by this turn of events as everyone else is,” attorney Steve Greenberg said.
Contrary to those statements, criminal defense attorney Jennifer Lieser said the father may potentially face criminal charges for aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime.
“There’s an intent aspect to aiding and abetting,” Lieser explained. “I have to, if I supply a weapon to my friend, because she tells me she’s going to rob a bank, I have the intent to help her commit the crime. But if I give her a gun and then five years later she robbed the bank it’s attenuated. It’s kind of hard to say that there was an intent that I helped her commit the crime. So that’s really what’s at play here.”
Legal expert Dina Doll says there’s probably a little bit of blame for the parents and police.
“Illinois had some really strong gun restrictions on the books. This shows how much of the enforcement is dependent on family members or friends, kind of alerting the police to the problems of the child. There’s not that much the police can do if they don’t know what is happening. But as we also know, there was the 2019 police, where they were called, and did they do enough afterwards? As I said, there’s probably a little bit of blame to go around with everybody here,” Doll said.
“We know that the police filed a report that (Crimo III) was a clear and present danger,” Doll added. “But the determination higher up did not stand that he would have had if he had been determined to be a clear and present danger, then even if the father had kind of co-signed for that permit, they still could have denied the permit. So that you can argue would be a failing of the police. Although they did try to do that report, they did properly go through the channels. Ultimately, as we now know, in hindsight, that was the wrong determination.”
Doll pointed out the meaning from her perspective of Crimo III’s father signing to allow his son to get a gun.
“He signed this affidavit back in 2019, which allowed his son to get the gun when he otherwise wouldn’t have been allowed to do it. So he was basically saying that he was responsible, liable for any damages at the time, kind of vouching for him because it was considered to be a public safety issue to have an underage person with a gun,” Doll said. “We know at the time, just a few months before the police were called, because it’s threats he made to kill everyone. The father is now saying through an attorney he didn’t know that much about it. But to me, that means that you’re reckless, and cosigning. If you didn’t know that much about it, you’ve had a duty to find out why the police were called before vouching for him to be safe to own this gun.”
According to Lieser, if the father is found guilty, he would likely be charged the same way or face the same punishment as if he carried out this shooting himself.
Doll believes the parents will argue that the tragedy was not foreseeable at the time the permit was issued.