Relatives of the accused July 4 gunman’s only friend in Highland Park said they were struggling to come to terms with how the once “lucky kid” butchered seven people from a rooftop with a high-powered rifle.
Michele Rebollar told The Daily Beast that Robert Crimo III, 21, spoke at her son Anthony LaPorte’s funeral in August 2017 and told fellow mourners that he was one of the only people he could trust.
“My name is Bobby and Anthony was the person I called when I couldn’t sleep and he always answered,” Crimo said in a video at the memorial service.
“And he was always free to spend time, and whenever I was with him, it felt like I wasn’t alone anymore, like I had someone there who was actually there,” Crimo continued.
Crimo went on to say that he “really loved” Anthony and told fellow mourners he was a “really good friend,” The Daily Beast reported.
Rebollar said she is now trying to find out how the teenager, who once spent time with her sons, is accused of gunning down innocent parade-goers, including some people she knew.
She didn’t want to discuss Crimo at first, but she also doesn’t want her late son’s name to be smudged by any connection to the accused mass murderer, the outlet reported.
“It broke my heart that my son, who was the gentlest spirit in the world, would have carried a bug out of the house instead of killing it… that it would somehow be connected in some way, shape or form [to Crimo] is just awful,” Rebollar told the outlet.
Anthony LaPorte “probably loved” Crimo and probably did “everything he could” to help him, Rebollar added.
Rebollar said she realized her son was attracted to loners and outcasts.
“That was the kind of person Anthony was, so a lot of people viewed Anthony as one of their true only friends,” she said. “I’m sure Bobby had some very deep moments with Anthony. Because everyone did it.”
Crimo stopped spending time with Rebollar’s family after her son died of a drug overdose, but he spent many hours with Anthony and his brothers when they were young at a local skate park, she said.
Anthony’s brother, Andres Christopher Lopez, said his group of friends once included Crimo, adding that they spent a lot of time skateboarding in front of a local Dairy Queen.
“He was just the quiet one,” Lopez told the outlet. “Maybe the nerd. But he was never anything but a happy kid.”
Hearing what Crimo is being accused of now, “just blows my mind,” he said.
An Illinois judge ordered him held without bail during his first court appearance Wednesday. If convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole.
Authorities said he confessed to the massacre and even contemplated a second attack.
“When I think of him, I don’t think of the tattoos on his face and the gun in his hand,” Lopez said. “I think about the kid I used to skateboard with.”
A single mother raising four children, Rebollar said her family doesn’t have a lot of luxuries and that Crimo appears to hang out with teenagers who aren’t wealthy or privileged.
“How can you even have empathy for Bobby?” She asked. “You think of all the victims and how can you even feel bad? I have no guilty conscience for his future. I think he will get what he deserves.”
Meanwhile, Crimo’s former high school classmates said he’s disruptive and regularly tries to promote his rap music.
“There were a lot of red flags with him,” said a former Highland Park High School classmate. “I told my teacher I didn’t want to sit next to him. He really scared me.”
Another classmate said Crimo appeared to have “red flags in behavior,” although there was nothing to suggest he would carry out a mass shooting.
“But kind of the kind where you think the kid is weird or he has some behavior or authority issues,” said former classmate Ethan Absler.
Absler almost went to the July Fourth parade at Highland Park, but decided against it because his younger brother didn’t want to go. He’s still struggling to process the carnage.
“Everyone in this country is desensitized to the words ‘It’s never going to come to your town’ and the words ‘mass shooting’ and things like that,” Absler told The Daily Beast. “Highland Park is so scenic and safe. We left our doors unlocked and laughed at the idea that any kind of violent crime was possible, and now I just feel ignorant for thinking that.
https://nypost.com/2022/07/07/family-of-robert-crimos-only-pal-in-shock-over-rampage/ Family of Robert Crimo’s only pal shocked by killing spree