THE suspected Highland Park shooter was spotted allegedly scoping out Highland Park synagogue on the last day of Passover – making one member “instantly suspicious.”
Marty Blumenthal exclusively told The Sun that he carefully monitored Robert Crimo III “casing out” the building – and in doing so, may have possibly thwarted another deadly incident.
Blumenthal, who is the treasurer and head of security at the Illinois synagogue, recalled the events that unfolded months before the deadly July 4 shooting that claimed the lives of seven people.
Crimo, 22, walked into the place of worship, which was filled with around 125 people, after a security guard outside had “looked him over.”
“So when he walked in, I immediately saw that he didn’t belong there,” Blumenthal told The Sun.
“He was dressed in his goth clothing. All black and black leather, black leather gloves. And he had tattoos all over his neck. Some went onto his onto his face.
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“But I went up to him, I introduced myself just to check him out and he told me his name was Bobby.
“And I asked him, I probably asked him if you needed a prayer book or something. So someone got him one, but he didn’t know what to do with it.
“So obviously, he’s not Jewish.”
Throughout the service, Blumenthal says he sat in his normal seat and kept his eyes on Crimo.
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“There was something about him. Just the way he looked,” Blumenthal said.
“But he behaved, he didn’t cause any disturbance or anything.”
Blumenthal noted that Crimo had a backpack with him that he put underneath his seat.
“I knelt down, so he couldn’t see me. But I knelt down and patted the object to make sure there were no weapons in there.”
Blumenthal didn’t feel anything in the backpack, saying, “it was empty, or just nothing suspicious, nothing, metallic nature or anything like that.”
Others went up and introduced themselves to Crimo, Blumenthal recalls.
But about 40-45 minutes into the service, Crimo got up and began walking down the hall.
“I followed him,” Blumenthal said, adding that Crimo then walked past the security guard, got on his bicycle, and left.
“So that was the extent of it.”
SCOPING IT OUT?
Knowing what he knows about Crimo now, Blumenthal says he could make an “educated guess” about what the alleged shooter was doing at the synagogue that day.
“I think he was just casing the building,” Blumenthal said.
“And, you know, I think he saw that that would be hard for him to walk in with a rifle anyway because the security guard outside would have seen it or I would have seen them on my monitor.
“And so that was probably why he was there. And there would be no other reason.
“He wasn’t interested in learning about Judaism.
Blumenthal added that the synagogue added the security measures a few years ago amidst the rise of anti-Semitic violence.
“There’s always copycats,” he said.
“And you know, once it catches on, and one nut thinks this guy had a great idea. Like maybe he got the idea to be on the roof from the Las Vegas shooter,” he went on. “So there were all these nuts, you know.
“They think one person had this great idea and someone else fantasizes about it. And it’s obvious, [that] this kid did plan it out. Which is usually what they do.
“It’s not just a random thing. Like he wore the women’s clothes as a disguise.”
Blumenthal says he “couldn’t tell” how Crimo identified by the way he dressed, noting that while he had “longish hair,” he was not wearing women’s clothing that day.
‘SUSPICION WAS CORRECT’
Blumenthal reiterated that while Crimo may have had other intentions at the synagogue that day, he also didn’t disturb the service.
“He didn’t do anything. He sat there and he watched,” he continued. “If everyone was standing up he would stand up. If everyone was sitting down he would sit down.”
But Blumenthal says his “suspicion was correct” about Crimo, who is now facing seven counts of first-degree murder for the Independence Day massacre.
“He’s not here to pray and I got to watch him carefully,” Blumenthal said.
Speaking of the Highland Park shooting, Blumenthal said it’s “surreal”: “No one thinks it’s going to happen in their own backyard. But I’m a believer, a big believer, in always being prepared.
“If you don’t have to use it great, but if you’re not prepared and the situation comes up, then it’s a bad day.”
Gunshots rang out just 10 minutes after the start of a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois – about 25 miles north of Chicago.
Beach chairs, baby strollers, backpacks, and blankets were found strewn across the parade grounds as revelers sought cover.
Highland Park police believed the shooter scaled a ladder in an alley to access the roof of a business and then proceeded to open fire at parade-goers.
“He was very discreet and very difficult to see,” Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli said.
Authorities recovered a “high-powered rifle” believed to have been used in the mass shooting.
The suspect’s motive appeared to be random, investigators said before they named Crimo as the person of interest.
“By all means, at this point, this appears to be completely random,” Covelli said.
The Lake County coroner’s office said five victims, all adults, were declared dead at the scene, while a sixth victim died at a local hospital.
Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that a seventh person had died following the shooting.
Crimo was captured Monday evening following an hours-long manhunt.
He was arrested when cops hunted down the silver Honda Fit that he was driving – hours after the deadly sniper attack at the parade.
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Footage shared online shows the 22-year-old suspect being held down and cuffed by police just outside of Chicago.
He was seen with his face on the ground as cops swooped in on him.