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Suspect confesses to Highland Park shooting and plotted second attack in Wisconsin, prosecutor says

Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III went to Madison and eyed a celebration for a possible attack there, officials said. He's accused of killing seven people in the affluent Chicago suburb.

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — The man accused of killing seven people at a Fourth of July parade confessed in detail to the shooting — and revealed that he had considered a second attack, authorities said Wednesday.

Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, and will likely face many more counts stemming from the dozens wounded and injured during Monday's carnage in this upscale Chicago suburb.

"He went into details about what he had done. He admitted to what he had done," Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart told reporters outside of the county courthouse. "We don't want to speculate on motives right now."

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Shana Gutman and her mom, Eadie Bear, lifelong residents of Highland Park, Ill., look at the Central Avenue scene Tuesday.Brian Cassella / TNS via Getty Images

Crimo made the confession in a voluntary statement after being reminded of his right to remain silent, officials said.

After fleeing Highland Park, Crimo ended up in Madison, Wisconsin, and came upon a Fourth of July event there, said Chris Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

He briefly thought about unleashing an attack in that city as well, according to the official.

“We don’t have information to suggest that he planned on driving to Madison, initially, to commit another attack,” Covelli said. “We do believe that he was driving around (after) the first attack and saw the celebration.”

Covelli didn't say what particular event Crimo considered attacking. There were a number of festivals and fireworks shows happening in and around the famed college town Monday.

The defendant dropped his cellphone in Middleton, just outside Madison, and it's been recovered, authorities said.

Asked what might have stopped him from attacking Madison, Covelli said, “Indications are that he hadn't put enough thought or research into that.”

The FBI asked Madison police to assemble their SWAT unit at about 5 p.m. Monday, believing Crimo could be nearby, city police chief Shon Barnes said.

Crimo was taken into custody at about 6:30 p.m. in North Chicago, Illinois, and Madison SWAT was never deployed.

"We will never know for certain what stopped him but I am thankful that no innocent lives were taken from our city," Barnes told reporters in Madison.

City police are cooperating with the FBI, looking for surveillance cameras that could piece together a timeline of Crimo's movements in Madison.

At this point it's completely unknown, as Barnes added: "We were not aware of his intentions in the city (of Madison) until this morning."

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the near-miss of an attack on her city further shows how every American is being threatened by mass shootings.

"This is a very scary event for people and it cuts a little close to home. Thank goodness he didn't do anything here in Madison," the mayor said.

"But it could have happened, and frankly, right now we know that something like this could happen in any community in the United States of America — and does happen on a weekly basis. So yes, people should be aware, they should be afraid that mass shootings can happen in our community.”

Records showed Crimo purchased four weapons in 2020, the AR-15-style weapon used in Monday’s attack, a Kel-Tec sub-2000, a Remington 700 rifle and a shotgun, according to Covelli. Then in 2021, Crimo bought a Glock 43x pistol, the official said.

Crimo had that Kel-Tec weapon with him during that trip to Madison on Monday, according to Covelli.

While investigators are still seeking to pinpoint a motive, police said Crimo was interested in the number 47, which is tattooed on his face.

While authorities don't know why that is the case, his digital footprint offers some insight.

In the video game “Hitman,” the main character’s name is Agent 47, and clips have emerged of Crimo playing that game. And in some gang nomenclature, "47" has been used to describe the AK-47 assault rifle.

“He had some type of affinity toward the number 4 and 7 and inverse was 7 and 4,” in possible reference to July Fourth, Covelli said.

A judge ordered Crimo held without bail Wednesday.

The judge was told that Crimo emptied two clips with 30 rounds each and had loaded a third before the shooting stopped, Rinehart said.

Officials on Tuesday identified six of the seven people killed as Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78.

The seventh victim, 69-year-old Eduardo Uvaldo, was identified Wednesday by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Crimo, apprehended hours after the rampage, scaled a fire escape ladder to make himself a sniper’s nest before opening fire on unsuspecting paradegoers below, authorities said.

He allegedly had planned the attack for weeks and even donned women’s clothing to blend into the crowd during his escape, police said.

An image of the suspect, obtained by NBC Chicago from a senior law enforcement official, appeared to show him in a blue-and-white blouse with longer hair.

Investigators believe the disguise was particularly useful for obscuring his facial tattoos during the confusing moments after the shooting, police have said.

"The community is still in just unbelievable grief and sadness," Mayor Nancy Rotering told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.

"The first day it was shock, and now it’s being processed. We are now preparing funerals."

An attorney for Crimo could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

Crimo is due back in court on July 28, and he'll probably be arraigned in August, Rinehart said.

"Many more charges against this defendant because so many people were hurt," Rinehart said.

"Every time he fires a bullet at an individual, he is committing aggravated discharge of a weapon whether he hits someone or not. There will be many, many more charges coming."

Safia Samee Ali reported from Highland Park, and David K. Li and Ben Collins from New York City.