The director of security claimed that Robert Cremo, the suspect in the deadly July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois that left seven dead and dozens injured, made a suspicious visit to a synagogue to mark Passover..
said Martin Blumenthal, volunteer security coordinator at Central Avenue Synagogue straight ahead Mr. Cremo visited worshipers on the last day of Easter in April, noting that the facility was located a stone’s throw from the parade route where the 21-year-old allegedly randomly fired more than 70 shots into a crowd watching the Independence Day celebration on Monday.
“He was definitely sizing up the synagogue,” Mr Blumenthal said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that he was first alerted to the young man’s presence in the synagogue because he claimed he did not fit the typical Chabad visitor, where he was dressed. In black, including black gloves.
When Mr Blumenthal approached the 21-year-old, he said he made sure to feel his backpack – which he says he believes contained no noticeable weapons – and added that he had “watched it all the time” and attended the service before leaving on the bike.
On Tuesday, Lake County state attorney Eric Reinhart announced that Kremo had been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, less than 24 hours after his arrest.
Reinhart indicated that more charges are expected to follow. If convicted, Karimo faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
“In the courtroom, we will seek the maximum sentence for this offender. Not because we seek revenge, but because justice and the healing process require it,” Mr. Reinhart said.
Although Mr Blumenthal never reported to authorities about April’s visit to Highland Park Synagogue, in his assessment at the time he did not break any laws by attending the service, he called the police this week to let them know after he saw Mr. Kremo’s photo in the news after the fatal mass shooting.
“I called him. I knew what he was going to do,” said the volunteer security coordinator, who did not confirm to the news outlet if he was carrying a firearm at the time of Mr. Kremo’s visit. “But it didn’t cause any inconvenience or anything. So I was just watching him.”
Mr. Blumenthal was not the only one who noticed Mr. Cremo in the congregation during the High Holiday this past spring.
Rabbi Yosef Shanowitz, the rabbi of the Central Avenue Synagogue, confirmed in an interview with Israel national news The website this week said it also recognized the photo of the suspected shooter when it was shot by police on Monday, recalling that he saw the man inside his place of worship just a few months ago.
“During the last Passover holiday, that person walked into the Chabad Synagogue. We have an armed security guard sitting in the front,” Rabbi Channowitz said, noting how an armed hired officer at the synagogue comes to worshipers in Chabad and the holidays. “I approached him and asked him strongly to leave because I noticed he is not a member of our community.”
The motive for the attack remains unknown, although police confirmed during a press conference on Tuesday that plans for the mass shooting have been in the works for several weeks.
“We believe Cremo planned the attack several weeks in advance,” Sgt. Christopher Coveli said during a news briefing.
Officials were also questioned about whether the warning signs had been missed, after it was revealed that the accused had shared several disturbing and violent videos online prior to the attack.
It was also revealed on Tuesday that three months before Mr Kremo applied for a firearms owners identification card (FOID), police were called to his home after he threatened to “kill everyone” inside.
The high-powered rifle discovered at the scene was legally obtained, as were the multiple firearms found by the authorities after a search warrant was issued for Mr. Cremo’s bedroom, which included another rifle and a pistol.
Highland Park, located about 25 miles north of Chicago, is a densely populated Jewish suburb, according to Ha’aretz and the Jewish Telegraph Agencyand both cite that the sect’s population within the area hovers around 30,000.
Of the six people so far identified as having died during the Monday Shameless attack, three of the confirmed victims were Jews, including: Jackie Sondheim, 63, who was among the first announced victims after the synagogue she was in. working in it. As event coordinator, she released a statement late Monday night confirming her deaths, Stephen Straus, 88, and Catherine Goldstein, 64.
Times of Israel She reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry was alerted earlier this week of Jewish casualties in the mass shooting.
Karimo is due to appear for the first time in court during Wednesday’s hearing.