Highland Park July 4th shooting suspect’s parents were ‘a problem,’ says former coach

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The parents of accused Highland Park, Illinois, shooter Robert ‘Bobby’ Crimo III were “a problem” and always the last to pick him up from his afterschool sports program, the suspect’s former coach told Fox News Digital.

“I remember the parents more than him because they were kind of a problem,” recalled Jeremy Cahnmann, who ran an afterschool sports program at Lincoln Elementary School. “There was not a lot of love in that family.”

The accused shooter, 21, is in police custody after allegedly gunning down revelers at the Highland Park July 4 parade, killing at least six people and injuring more than 36.

Crimo was 9 or 10 when he was enrolled in Cahnmann’s Nerf football program, along with his younger brother. “Every week, the Crimos were the last kids there, and we’d have to call their parents to pick them up,” the former coach said, speaking of Crimo’s dad, Bob Crimo, 58, and his mom, Denise Pesina, 48 .

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“The kid was really quiet, really soft-spoken, never made an issue,” added Cahnmann, who now runs the Chicago-based company Brain Bash Trivia.

A photo combination of alleged July 4 shooter's parents, Bob Crimo and Denise Pesina.

A photo combination of alleged July 4 shooter’s parents, Bob Crimo and Denise Pesina.
(Facebook)

Pesina, however, was a handful, he said. “She got into it once with one of the heads of the program, she was yelling,” he recalled. “It seemed like her kids were a nuisance to her.”

The accused shooter, an aspiring rapper, grew up with his parents, younger brother and older sister on McDaniels Avenue in Highland Park, outside of Chicago.

Under the stage name “Awake the Rapper,” Crimo posted a disturbing music video in 2021 that featured drawings of a stick figure wearing tactical gear carrying out an attack with a rifle, and a newspaper clipping about Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated John F. Kennedy.

A photo combination of alleged July 4 parade shooter Robert Crimo III (right) and his mom Denise Pesina.

A photo combination of alleged July 4 parade shooter Robert Crimo III (right) and his mom Denise Pesina.
(Facebook / FBI)

“The signs were there for a long time,” said a neighbor of Crimo. “There were always police cars at the house. The parents were arguing, fighting all the time.”

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Pesina is a self-proclaimed energy healer with her company called Trilogy Energy Systems, according to her Facebook page. His father once ran for mayor and had a local sandwich shop, Bob’s Pantry and Deli, that has since shuttered.

The home on McDaniels Avenue, where alleged gunman Robert Crimo III grew up with his family in Highland Park.

The home on McDaniels Avenue, where alleged gunman Robert Crimo III grew up with his family in Highland Park.
(Google Maps)

“He was so nice, he always gave the kids free candy and treats,” the neighbor said.

The mom seemed unstable while the father was well liked in the community, locals told Fox News Digital.

At the time of the shooting, the younger Crimo was living with his father and uncle at a home in nearby Highwood Park. Neighbors said Pesina still lived in the Highland Park home, which had become an eyesore in the upscale suburb.

Robert Crimo III, 22, was taken into police custody after a brief car chase.

Robert Crimo III, 22, was taken into police custody after a brief car chase.
(Katherine Rappel)

“I walk by the house every day, it looks like it should be condemned,” said a local. “The landscaping is seven-feet high. I was thinking to myself the other day, we should really do a welfare check.”

Cahnmann said he was stunned to learn of the mass shooting.

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“I’m shocked,” Cahnmann said. “Obviously these things can occur anywhere anytime, but Highland Park is a very affluent suburb where you do not think things like this will happen.”

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