Bobby Crimo 'Antifa', pro-Trump Claims—What We Do Know, What We Don't

The tragic shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, during a July 4 parade has caused both grief and frustration as the U.S. counts yet another mass shooting in 2022.

Suspect Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, 22, was arrested several hours after the tragic incident, which left six dead and more than two dozen injured.

The sheer brutality, much like with the recent shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, precipitated in an outpour of public anger, leading many to speculate about the motivation behind the killings.

However, just as in those incidents, this provides a rich opportunity for others to spread hearsay, conjecture and misinformation.

Illinois Shooting Highland Park
Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 22, who police have detained in connection with the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, is said to have been both a Donald Trump and Antifa supporter according to claims on social media. Law enforcement, pictured here, escorts a family away from the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022, in which six people were killed and 19 injured. Mark Borenstein/Getty Images

In the case of Buffalo, its shooter left a wide range of right-wing extremist material online, but rumors still spread about his affiliations to groups that he did not sympathize with, like the Ukrainian army.

In Uvalde, websites such as Twitter and 4Chan helped spread fictitious claims that the culprit was a transgender immigrant, among other baseless statements.

These patterns of half- or mistruths have become something of a trend in the aftermath of mass shootings, with online detectives attempting to piece together character profiles and, in some cases, manipulate or shape the narrative for political means.

As Illinois grieves from Monday's tragedy, photos quickly spread suggesting that suspect Crimo was a Donald Trump or "MAGA" supporter, referencing photos which appear to show him at pro-Trump rallies and sporting Trump memorabilia.

Read the latest on Bobby Crimo here.

In one video, it appears Crimo may have attended a gathering to see a presidential convoy, although it's not clear from the footage whether Trump was inside the motorcade or when it was shot.

These images would support the idea that Crimo sympathized with the former president and the political movements surrounding him. That said, there is no other verifiable information beyond these photos and videos that explain either the extent or intent of his admiration.

Conversely, others have suggested he had left-leaning sympathies. A series of photos were published which included references to the left-wing Antifa cause, comparing black riot gear Crimo was said to have posed with and the attire used by some Antifa supporters.

Other Twitter users claimed they had found Crimo's Instagram account with posts containing the Antifa flag. However, these Instagram accounts haven't been verified as authentic; searching Crimo's name on Instagram also shows what appears to be a number of copycat or fraudulent accounts set up following the shooting.

Conspiracy theorist subreddits also saw a flurry of posts speculating wildly about his purported 'antifa' leanings, including posts with outright manipulation that involves bundling together several unrelated, out-of-context, or debunked images to imply a connection.

This kind of behavior was rampant after the Uvalde shooting, when users said they had photos and information about the suspect, which in fact had been stolen from others and/or fabricated.

In any case, the information that we have about Crimo is limited. Although Crimo appears to have attended Trump rallies and may have made the effort to see the president in convoy, we still can't yet be certain about his motivation for doing so.

Nor can we state for certain if his political leanings (whatever they may transpire to be) impacted his decision. While it does appear that Crimo may have been supportive of Trump at some point, we don't know what the extent or authenticity of his support was.

Joe Biden Jill Biden
US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden bow their heads during a moment of silence for the victims of a shooting in Chicago. In June 2022, the president signed new gun reforms requiring tougher background checks for younger buyers and funding to encourage the use of "red flag" laws across U.S. states. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

We certainly cannot draw any conclusions that his support of a particular cause or person had any bearing on the acts of violence he allegedly committed.

Even in cases where such an influence seems clear-cut (such as that of the shooter in Buffalo), we still cannot say conclusively whether politics were the primary motivation given the typically complex underlying factors that motivate mass shooters.

Attempts to paint mass shooters against political sympathies without sufficient evidence, particularly so quickly after they have committed their crimes, represent a dangerous practice that may fuel misinformation.

Crucially, the counterproductive hyperpartisan fingerpointing tends to overshadow any constructive conversations around mental health and regulation of firearms that could help push towards effective solutions.

It also draws attention to the perpetrators of these crimes, promoting their infamy at the cost of those who have been killed, or even potentially inspiring future crimes.

At the time of publication, Crimo remains a "person of interest" after his arrest.

Newsweek has reached out to the Highland Park Police Department for comment.

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