The alleged gunman behind the mass shooting at Highland Park's Independence Day parade earlier this month has been indicted by a grand jury on 117 counts, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The 21-year-old now faces 21 counts of first-degree murder, three counts for each victim killed in the shooting, according to the Lake County State's Attorney's office. He also faces 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm "for each victim who was struck by a bullet, bullet fragment, or shrapnel," prosecutors said.
"I want to thank law enforcement and the prosecutors who presented evidence to the grand jury today. Our investigation continues, and our victim specialists are working around the clock to support all those affected by this crime that led to 117 felony counts being filed today," State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement.
The suspect is expected to appear in court once again at 11 a.m. on Aug. 3 for an arraignment hearing.
The alleged gunman is suspected of firing more than 70 rounds during Highland Park's Fourth of July Parade. He was previously ordered held without bond following his arrest.
"He does in fact pose a specific threat to community therefore defendant will be held without bond" the judge said during the bond hearing.
Prosecutors had said more charges were expected in the case, having originally filed just seven counts of first-degree murder. Still, those seven counts would, if convicted, carry a mandatory sentence of life without parole, Rinehart said.
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Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said the suspect had legally purchased a high-powered rifle before he climbed a fire escape at a business along the suburban Chicago parade route and fired more than 70 times from the rooftop.
"We do believe [the suspect] pre-planned this attack for several weeks," Covelli said. "He brought a high-powered rifle to this parade, he accessed the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder and began opening fire on the innocent Independence Day celebration goers."
Authorities said a gun found at the scene and another rifle found in the vehicle he was driving at the time he was arrested were registered in his name and legally purchased, but a motive for the shooting remains unclear.
The shooting happened less than three years after police went to the suspect's home following a call from a family member who said he was threatening “to kill everyone” there.
At that time, in September 2019, Covelli said police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no sign he had any guns.
Police in April 2019 also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect, Covelli said.
The suspect legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois within the past year, Covelli said. In all, police said, he purchased five firearms, which were recovered by officers at his father’s home.
Illinois state police, who issue gun owners’ licenses, said the gunman 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.
State police say that the suspect passed a series of background checks, and no criminal charges aside from a citation for possession of tobacco by a minor were found on his record.