Former classmates of the Highland Park, Ill., Tuesday shooting suspect described him as a strange, soft-spoken child who did not participate in class or school activities and showed little interest in engaging with their peers.
Robert “Bobby” Crimo III’s few friends tended to be troublemakers who seemed to relish the idea of being outsiders, a few of his former classmates said.
“They wanted to be the ‘anti-‘ group, like the rebels,” said Mackenzie, a former classmate who asked to be identified by only her first name to protect her privacy. “The aura they exhibited was opposite, negative and harsh.”
Mackenzie said she attended middle and high school with Crimo and once shared a Spanish lesson with him. “Every time I heard him speak it was very lifeless and negative,” she said. “He was always downcast and not enthusiastic.”
A former classmate who requested anonymity for privacy reasons said he and Crimo used to hang out and play video games and skateboard together in middle school, but they got together. separated when they were freshmen at Highland Park High School.
“He was a skater kid,” he said of Crimo in college. “He was doing YouTube videos all the time back then. Kind of DIY videos about how to grab a skateboard or replace a wheel, stuff like that.
But in high school, the former classmate said, Crimo became more insular and distant.
“He was always alone,” he said. “Nobody seemed to be trying to be his friend.”
Just before Crimo left Highland Park High in 2017, he splashed “Awake” stickers on school stairs and bathrooms, the former classmate said. Crimo made rap music under the name “Awake the Rapper”.
When authorities announced Monday that Crimo was “a person of interest” in the July 4 shooting, a former friend said he “wasn’t shocked.”
Molly Handelman, who also said she attended middle and high school with Crimo, described him as a “very quiet” guy. “When he spoke, he was very sweet. He never seemed aggressive at all.
Handelman, who has worked with Crimo on class projects a few times, said “something definitely felt wrong” with him.
“If he was asked to speak, he definitely had an opinion,” she said. “I just remember if he was asked to speak he would say, ‘I don’t care’, kind of thing.”
“He made it very clear that he didn’t care about school,” Handelman said. “His friends got in trouble quite often at school. He remained quite reserved and calm, so it seemed quite interesting to see how he was very calm but his friends were very rebellious, ”she added.
Handelman said she was shocked to learn of Monday’s shooting. “It’s very traumatic. A lot of people in Highland Park feel like it’s a very safe community,” she said.
Another former classmate, who also asked CNN not to use his name for privacy reasons, said Crimo “kept his head down, listened to music, walked down the halls, minded his own business”. This classmate, however, said he didn’t think there was a darker side to Crimo’s reclusive nature. “In no way did I like ‘this kid has demons,'” he told CNN.