The man charged with killing seven people at an Independence Day parade in a Chicago suburb confessed to police that he unleashed a hail of bullets from a rooftop before fleeing and then contemplating an attack on another event, authorities said.
Robert Crimo III told investigators that he fled to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, where he contemplated a shooting there, a police spokesman said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Instead, he turned back to Illinois, where he was later arrested after deciding he was not prepared to carry out the shooting in Wisconsin, he said.
An Illinois judge ordered Crimo to be held without bail at his court appearance.
Lake County assistant state's attorney Ben Dillon said in court the gunman "looked down his sights, aimed" and fired at people across the street, killing seven and wounding more than two dozen.
He left the shells of 83 bullets and three ammunition magazines on the rooftop.
The suspect, if convicted of murder, would receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
It comes after police said Crimo legally bought two high-powered rifles and three other weapons despite authorities being called to his home twice since 2019 after he threatened suicide and violence.
Illinois state police, who issue gun owners’ licenses, said Crimo, 21, 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.
Investigators who have interrogated the suspect and reviewed his social media posts said they have not determined a motive or found any indication that he targeted victims by race, religion or other protected status.
Police said they were called to the suspect’s home in September 2019 after a family member called to say he was threatening “to kill everyone” in the home.
A police officer pulled over Crimo north of the shooting scene several hours after police released his photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.
After evading initial capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, Crimo drove to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, then returned to Illinois, Mr Covelli said.
The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day.
Among them was Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico. He was shot and died at the scene, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Also killed was Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong congregant and “beloved” staff member at nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, which announced her death on its website.
The Lake County coroner released the names of four other victims: 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein, 35-year-old Irina McCarthy, 37-year-old Kevin McCarthy and 88-year-old Stephen Straus.
Nine people, ranging from 14 to 70, remained in hospital on Tuesday, officials said.