Highland Park mass shooting suspect ‘seriously contemplated’ second attack in Madison, officials say

Suspect disposed of phone outside business on University Ave.

MADISON, Wis. — The alleged shooter who killed seven and injured more than 30 others at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois considered opening fire at a second holiday event in Madison but ultimately decided against it, according to statements the 21-year-old made to police after his arrest.

Law enforcement officials have offered few insights, if any, into Robert Crimo III’s motivation for driving more than 140 miles to southern Wisconsin after confirming on Tuesday he traveled to the area before he was ultimately arrested in Illinois.

During a Wednesday morning press conference, Deputy Chief of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Christopher Covelli said the alleged shooter at least briefly considered attacking a holiday event in the Madison area, though no law enforcement officials haven’t specified which event it might have been.

“We don’t have information to suggest he planned on driving to Madison initially to commit another attack, we do believe that he was driving around following the first attack and saw the celebration,” Covelli said.

According to Covelli, Crimo had roughly 60 rounds of ammunition with him at the time. Investigators said Crimo ultimately decided against attacking the event because he hadn’t put enough thought or research into it.

Covelli also confirmed Crimo’s phone was later found at a business in the 6500 block of University Avenue in Middleton.

RELATED: ‘Why here?’ Middleton business owner is shocked after Highland Park shooter’s phone was found on his property

James Lund, the owner of Jim’s Auto Service Center confirmed to News 3 Now on Wednesday that authorities recovered the alleged shooter’s phone at his business Tuesday morning. Lund, like many others, is wondering why Crimo traveled to Madison in the first place.

“Middleton has a parade here, and it starts right outside of my station… and that’s where they found what they were looking for,” Lund said, referring to the FBI’s search for Crimo’s phone.

RELATED: ‘I was just furious’: Former News 3 Now reporter recounts aftermath of Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting

Officials with the Madison Police Department, Dane County Sheriff’s Office and Wisconsin State Patrol have confirmed to News 3 Now that none of their agencies have any records of previous encounters with Crimo.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Reinhart said Crimo went into detail about the shooting after his arrest and admitted to it during questioning from the Highland Park Police Department. Reinhart added that authorities do not want to speculate on Crimo’s potential motives.

Reaction from local leaders

In a news release shared just before Noon on Wednesday, Captain Jeremy Geiszler with the Middleton Police Department said officials with the department have been in close contact with the FBI regarding the Highland Park shooting, “but our department is not involved in the investigation into this shooting.” Geiszler said all questions about the investigation and Crimo’s time in Dane County should be sent to the Lake County Illinois Major Crimes Task Force, which is leading the investigation.

RELATED: ‘It could have happened’: Madison officials react to city being targeted by Highland Park gunman

On Wednesday, Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said he and his department were “deeply troubled” to learn Crimo considered attacking an event in the area.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway released a similar statement Wednesday, calling for a national approach for dealing with gun violence. “Weapons of war have no place in our communities,” her statement reads, in part.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the possibility of a second attack in Madison is a “frightening reminder of the randomness of gun violence and that no one is immune” before calling on the Wisconsin State Legislature and Congress to “get serious” about what he called common-sense gun laws.

Crimo in court

During his first court appearance on Wednesday, a Lake County judge ordered Crimo be held without bond. He’s charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. Reinhart reiterated during the Wednesday press conference he plans to file additional charges for each individual who was shot.