August 10, 2022
YouTube channel featuring Highland Park shooting person of interest showed parade route and an animated school shooting
A YouTube channel with numerous videos featuring the suspect in Monday’s Highland Park shooting posted clips that telegraphed violence, including one that appears to show the parade route that was targeted and another showing an animated shooting.The channel, "zerotwo," has since been removed by YouTube, but archives of the channel and its videos remain online. The…

A YouTube channel with numerous videos featuring the suspect in Monday’s Highland Park shooting posted clips that telegraphed violence, including one that appears to show the parade route that was targeted and another showing an animated shooting.

The channel, “zerotwo,” has since been removed by YouTube, but archives of the channel and its videos remain online. 

The suspect, Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, ran a separate YouTube account called “Awake,” which was also the name under which Crimo performed as a rapper. That account has been independently verified by law enforcement officials as associated with Crimo. 

The “zerotwo” channel, a screenshot of which was captured by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, appeared to contain archived footage of Crimo, who is visible in many of the channel’s videos and its profile picture. It contained 17 videos posted within the past two years, all of which were under five minutes long. Some of them contained the same scenes and imagery from Crimo’s “Awake” channel. 

The most recent video on the “zerotwo” channel, uploaded eight months ago, included a cartoon figure shooting people and a voice-over that implied violence. 

One of those videos, titled “Robert Crimo Archive Footage: File XM058,” appears to show the site of the parade route that became the location of the deadly shooting that killed seven people and injured dozens more on Monday, during a Fourth of July parade. Crimo was arrested later in the day.

NBC News viewed a copy of the “File XM058” video, which is 17 seconds long and was uploaded 10 months ago. It shows a wide shot of an empty street in the early morning. The camera is moving as if attached to the back of a vehicle driving down the street, and an emergency siren sound can be heard over the footage, although it is unclear whether the audio was edited into the footage. Crimo is not visible in the video. 

A YouTube spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “Following the horrific incident in Highland Park, our Trust and Safety teams identified and quickly removed violative content, in accordance with our Community Guidelines. In addition, we terminated a few channels in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines.”

On the city of Highland Park’s website, the parade route is described as starting on St. John’s Avenue before turning onto Central Avenue. The street view of Central Avenue provided by Google Maps matches the footage from the YouTube video.

Authorities said Tuesday that they believe Crimo planned the attack for “several weeks” and wore women’s clothing during the shooting to avoid detection. Crimo scaled a fire escape ladder to reach the roof of a building next to the parade route, where he fired more than 70 rounds into the crowd below, authorities said.

Crimo, a Highland Park native, used a legally purchased high-powered rifle that is similar to an AR-15, authorities said. 

Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said in a press conference on Tuesday morning that Crimo had been planning the crime for “weeks,” and that authorities had been looking into online posts associated with the shooter to determine a motive.

Crimo was highly active on forums focusing on violent videos and extremism in the years before the attack. Crimo was also an active participant on a forum that exclusively aggregated videos of murders and violent incidents on the web, last posting in the week before the shooting. On the chat app Discord, Crimo railed against “commies” under his rap name Awake. The Discord channel, titled “SS,” was first discovered by researchers at the website Unicorn Riot, a nonprofit media group that tracks the far right.

Crimo also posted what he called a “manifesto” as an Amazon e-book, which consisted of 28 pages of numbers seemingly meant to be decoded. The e-book, which was published in February 2021, is no longer available on Amazon.


Kat Tenbarge is a tech and culture reporter for NBC News Digital.

Ben Collins covers disinformation, extremism and the internet for NBC News.

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