Robert Crimo, 21, told investigators he drove more than 200 miles to Madison, where he “saw more celebrations” and “seriously considered using the gun he had in his vehicle to carry out another attack,” Christopher Covelli of Highland Park Police said Wednesday.

This second attack was not planned, unlike the first which had been prepared “for several weeks”, underlined the policeman.

The young man fired into the crowd on Monday with a semi-automatic rifle from the roof of a business, just as the July 4th parade had just started in Highland Park, an upscale suburb of Chicago, Illinois, making seven dead and more than thirty injured.

Investigators said he was “dressed as a woman”, wearing a wig and makeup to hide his identity and tattoos. He then dropped his weapon and blended in with the mass of escaping people before fleeing by car to Madison. But he had turned around and returned to Chicago where he had been arrested.

– Confession – 

He confessed to the investigators, said assistant prosecutor Ben Dillon, during a videoconference appearance before a judge.

The latter, Theodore Potkonjak, refused in view of the charges a release on bail, while the accused remained impassive from his place of detention.

At a subsequent news conference in Waukegan, prosecutor Eric Rinehart declined to speculate on a motive, but police ruled out a racist or religious motive, as Highland Park has a large Jewish community.

Robert Crimo has been charged with seven murders and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. He should be prosecuted on numerous other charges, according to Mr. Rinehart.

He is due to appear before another judge in Waukegan Court on July 28.

Illinois police have explained why the frail-looking young man was able to legally purchase four weapons, including the shotgun used on Monday, in 2020, despite a history of psychological disorders and threatening behavior. Then aged under 21, he had been sponsored by his father.

Police said in a statement that they had not received a “psychological report” on the shooter, who had attempted suicide in early 2019.

– Disbelief and resignation –

In 2019, the police also intervened at the family home after a call warning that he was threatening to “kill everyone” and seized 16 knives in particular. The shooter’s father then claimed that the knives belonged to him.

He enjoyed modest fame online under his stage name “Awake the Rapper”, with some of his songs hinting at the violence within him.

The residents of Highland Park gathered on Tuesday evening in front of a makeshift memorial set up in front of a church in the city.

“We are all devastated,” resident Susanna Calkins told AFP. She said she was immersed in “disbelief, but also resignation: these things happen again and again. And this time it’s here, it’s ours.”

The 4th of July festivities were marred by violence across the country.

Richmond, Virginia police said on Wednesday they arrested two men who were planning an attack in one of the city’s parks where several thousand residents were to attend concerts and fireworks.

The United States has been facing a spike in gun violence since the Covid-19 pandemic and the country is in shock after a series of shootings, one of which killed 21 people, including 19 children, on May 24 in Texas.