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Synagogue's security head recalls encounter with 'suspicious' Robert Crimo months before massacre

Crimo had walked into the synagogue, filled with around 125 people, and was likely 'casing the building,' according to the head of security
Robert Crimo went to a Highland Park synagogue a few months before the shooting incident (Screenshot/ YouTube@arkivish and Google)
Robert Crimo went to a Highland Park synagogue a few months before the shooting incident (Screenshot/ YouTube@arkivish and Google)

Marty Blumenthal, who is the treasurer and head of security at a Highland Park synagogue, recalled his encounter with the alleged shooter of the Fourth of July parade in Chicago, months before the incident took place. Blumenthal exclusively told The Sun newspaper that he grew "suspicious" the moment he saw Robert Crimo outside the synagogue. He carefully observed Crimo "casing-out" the building and feels that his scrutiny is what made Crimo reject the synagogue as a possible target for a deadly attack.

According to the security head of the synagogue, the 22-year-old Crimo walked to the place of worship which was filled with approximately 125 people at that time, after a security guard had  "looked him over". He explained, "So when he walked in, I immediately saw that he didn't belong there". Crimo was dressed all in black at that time and also wore a pair of black leather gloves. Blumenthal also added that he noticed the tattoos on his neck, some of which went up to his face. "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 he needed a prayer book or something. So someone got him one, but he didn't know what to do with it."


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Blumenthal told The Sun that it did not take much time for him to understand that something was wrong with him. He said that he clearly knew that Crimo was not a Jew by seeing his actions. "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." The alleged shooter was under his scanner and he did not take his eyes off him the entire time he was there. "There was something about him. Just the way he looked," Blumenthal added. "But he behaved [himself], he didn't cause any disturbance or anything." He noted that he noticed a backpack that Crimo kept 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." 


However, others who were present there, went up and introduced themselves to Crimo. Blumenthal recalled that he was in the synagogue for around 45 minutes into the service before he 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." 

Mourners react at a memorial site for the victims of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade, on July 6, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

After the Fourth of July shooting massacre in Highland Park, Blumenthal said that he can now make a wild guess about why Crimo was in the place of worship on 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. He is also sure about the fact that the 22-year-old was not at all interested in Judaism. Blumenthal made sure to make the place of worship safe by adding more security due to the gradual increase of anti-Semitic violence over the years.