Victims of a mass shooting that claimed the lives of seven people and injured dozens at a July 4 parade in Illinois have filed lawsuits against a gun manufacturer, the accused shooter and the shooter’s father, court documents show.
The civil lawsuits, filed Tuesday in Illinois’ Lake County Circuit Court, include the families of those killed as well as those who suffered physical or mental health complications because of the mass shooting in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, a news release from law firm Romanucci and Blandin states.
The plaintiffs claim that gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson marketed assault rifles through unfair and deceptive strategies to “appeal to the impulsive, risk-taking tendencies of civilian adolescent and post-adolescent males,” the lawsuits state.
“The mass shooting at Highland Park’s Fourth of July Parade was the foreseeable and entirely preventable result of a chain of events initiated by Smith & Wesson,” the lawsuits state.
“Instead of taking steps to stop or reduce the risk of this senseless slaughter, Smith & Wesson facilitates violence for profit,” the lawsuits claim. “It employs sales and marketing practices that create and feed a consumer base of young, civilian men who keep the money rolling in.”
Robert Crimo III, the man accused of carrying out the shooting, was indicted on 117 counts by a grand jury in July. He was charged with 21 counts of first-degree murder, three counts for each person he’s accused of killing during the Fourth of July parade.
Alleged shooter pleads not guilty
The celebration turned into a massacre when the gunman aimed a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle on paradegoers from a rooftop, authorities have said.
Crimo, who was 21 at the time of the shooting, has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
In addition to the seven victims who were killed, dozens of others were injured.
The accused shooter’s father, Robert Crimo Jr., was also named in the lawsuits for his role in sponsoring his son’s gun permit, which allowed his son to purchase firearms before he turned 21, including the gun he allegedly used in the shooting.
“He too is liable for the havoc and death caused by his son,” the lawsuits state.
The father had come under scrutiny for signing off on that permit despite his son showing signs of being potentially dangerous to those around him, police have said. Police reports show that officers were regularly called to their home over domestic disputes between the elder Crimo and his wife and, in 2019, police briefly confiscated a collection of knives after the younger Crimo, then 18, threatened to “kill everyone.”
The elder Crimo has denied wrongdoing and any responsibility for his son’s actions. He has not been charged in the case, a spokesperson for the Lake County state’s attorney’s office told CNN on Thursday.
CNN has reached out to all named defendants for their comment on the lawsuits.
Lawsuits seek jury trial
The lawsuits also accuse two gun stores – Bud’s Gun Shop and Red Dot Arms – of selling the rifle to the accused shooter while allegedly knowing Crimo lived in a jurisdiction that barred possession of that firearm.
“They, like the Shooter’s Father, willfully ignored the public’s right to be safe from violence by placing a weapon of war into the Shooter’s hands. All of these actors must be held accountable for the massacre at Highland Park’s Fourth of July Parade,” the lawsuits state.
Attorneys in the lawsuits are seeking a trial by jury, saying plaintiffs are “entitled to recovery.”
Crimo had climbed onto a rooftop overlooking the street where the parade was taking place and fired a barrage of bullets at the participants, officials said.
In a voluntary statement to authorities, Crimo said he “looked down his sights, aimed and opened fire,” emptying two 30-round magazines before loading his weapon with a third and firing again, Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said during Crimo’s virtual bail hearing in July.
To conceal his identity, Crimo dressed in women’s clothing and used makeup to cover his tattoos, investigators believe. After the shooting, he left the roof and blended in with the fleeing crowd, Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesperson Chris Covelli said.
CNN’s Brad Parks and Kacey Cherry contributed to this report.