Robert Crimo III, ‘Awake the Rapper’, arrested in Highland Park shooting

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The man detained by police as a “person of interest” in the shooting in a Chicago suburb that left six people dead and many more injured Monday was a local rapper whose online presence contained gleams of violence and a joke monologue depicting a troubled young man.

After a manhunt put the winding suburb under siege, authorities in Highland Park, Ill., Said they had detained Robert Crimo III.

At least six people died in a shooting at the Fourth of July parade outside Chicago

At first glance, Crimo – known online as “Awake the Rapper” – is like many internet artists with a modest following, amateur music videos on YouTube and tracks on Spotify. On photos released by the police and on his profiles on social media, the 22-year-old is small, with a spotty beard and tattoos on his face and neck, including one above his left eyebrow that says “Wake up”.

But a closer look at his videos provides some insight into his mental state.

Voice-over videos show a computer-drawn image of a figure wearing what appears to be tactical equipment, firing a rifle, with a person on his knees, raised hands apparently begging for mercy, and another lying on the ground . Another clip shows a person appearing to be Crimo wearing a helmet and vest inside a classroom next to an American flag.

The voice-over is forced against a background of dramatic instrumental music: “I have to go now, I just have to do it. That’s my destiny. Everything has led to this; nothing can stop me, not even myself.”

In another video, Crimo says: “Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom? Freedom. “Another:” I hate when others get more attention than me on the Internet. “

The videos were no longer available on YouTube late Monday, and his songs were removed from Spotify. A Spotify spokesman said in an email that the streaming service had removed the content “in collaboration” with the various distributors of the music. Distributors were “all set to remove this content,” the spokesman said.

One of Crimo’s videos appears to have been shot by him as he waits among a crowd for a presidential car procession to pass. Pictures that appear to show Crimo attending a rally for former President Donald Trump have also surfaced, but it is not clear from his online posting that he was a supporter of Trump or any other political party or candidate.

“He was immersed in the fringe Internet culture. But nothing uncovered so far suggests a clear political or ideological motive,” said Emerson T. Brooking, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which studies how information is disseminated online.

Brooking said it sets him apart from mass shooters in Buffalo, El Paso and Poway, California, who posted letters online expressing racist beliefs shortly before their attack.

Young men, arms and the prefrontal cortex

Bennet Brizes, who became friends with Crimo around 2015 through the music scene, said Crimo was “consistently apolitical.” When Brizes asked about current events and politics, Crimo would simply reply, “Man, I do not know.”

Crimo, whose friends called him Bobby, Brizes said, at one point made decent money on his music; Brizes remembered that Crimo once had physical copies of his music released and went into a Gucci store in San Diego and bought a tracksuit. But the two grew apart and stopped talking around 2019. When they spoke early last year, Crimo seemed “depressed,” Brizes said.

While he was always known as a kind of “weird guy” in the lo-fi hip-hop scene, Brizes said there was never anything about him that could have foreshadowed what happened on Monday.

In an interview with Chicago TV station Fox 32, a man who identified himself as Crimo’s uncle, Paul Crimo, said his nephew spent a lot of time on his computer.

“He’s a really quiet boy who keeps everything to himself. He does not express himself, he just sits on his computer, there is no interaction between me and him,” said Paul Crimo, adding that his nephew was unemployed , but had worked in a Panera Bread franchise about two years ago. “He did not go to college, he was a YouTube rapper.”

Paul Crimo said he lived at the same address as Robert Crimo III and his father, Robert Crimo Jr. But he said his interaction with his nephew was limited to saying hello and goodbye and when he would occasionally help him around the house. The younger Crimo had a separate apartment on the property, his uncle said.

Robert Crimo III’s father appears to be the owner of a local deli that unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Highland Park, a town of about 30,000 residents, in 2019.

“Me and my brother, we’re very famous in Highland Park,” Paul Crimo said. “Everyone loves us. It breaks my heart to hear about this at all.”

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