Highland Park mayor says she was a Cub Scout leader to alleged Illinois Fourth of July shooter

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering says the man who police suspect of opening fire on the town’s Fourth of July parade, killing at least seven and leaving more than two dozen injured, was someone she knew — she says she was a Cub Scout leader to him as a child. 

“I’m not sure what happened to him to compel him to commit this kind of evil in his hometown, but we have a city that is in deep mourning today and we are going to take a long time to heal from all of this,” Rotering told “CBS Mornings” on Tuesday. 

On Monday, police and witnesses said the gunman began shooting at the crowd from the roof of a business near the parade route. Investigators said a “high-powered rifle” was recovered from the scene. According to the mayor and police, the weapon was obtained legally

Nearly nine hours later, 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, who had been identified as a person of interest, was arrested. 

Rotering recalled Crimo being “a sweet little boy” at the time she was his Cub Scout leader. 

She said the community “is in shock” since the fatal incident. 

“When you have a city coming together to celebrate freedom and independence, you shouldn’t have to come fearing for your life,” she said. “That’s not what this nation is about and we need to do something about it.” 

The mayor, who was leading the holiday parade, described the initial scene as “joyous” and “wonderful,” as community members celebrated the Fourth of July parade for the first time in two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. That is, until a series of shots erupted, confusing and causing panic for the scores of people in attendance, Rotering said. 

“I noticed the marching band racing down the sidewalk at one point and couldn’t understand what they were doing,” she said. “I thought maybe they were late for a performance and then suddenly police cars were racing towards us, and again it was like ‘Well, maybe somebody’s having a heart attack.’ It just didn’t register that somebody was committing a mass shooting in my city.”

She called gun violence “a unique American issue” that requires more access to mental health care and “a very real national conversation.”

“How many times do we need to go through this drill?” Rotering asked. “There literally is a handbook that was sent to me by several mayors telling me: ‘Oh, this is what you need to do in the wake of a mass shooting.’ We need to have a much stronger conversation about why these weapons of war are still permitted in our society.”

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