Fact Check-Photo of shoulder tattoo of a rose in a fist does not depict the arm of suspected Chicago Highland Park gunman

A photograph of a tattoo with a red rose in a fist has been shared on social media, alongside inaccurate claims that it shows the arm of the suspected perpetrator of the July 4 shooting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, and that it evidences his political views.

The suspect, 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III, has a visibly different red rose tattoo on his neck. He surrendered to police on Monday, hours after the attack in which six people were killed and more than 30 were wounded (here), and was due to make his first court appearance on Wednesday to face seven first-degree murder charges (here )

“This killer also has a “Rose in the Fist” tattoo which is a socialist symbol. Interesting #HighlandPark,” a Twitter use who posted the photo wrote .

Other posts claiming the photo shows the suspect’s arm can be found at (here) (here).

A reverse image search of the photo reveals that it appeared online by March 16, 2014, when it was posted on social media webiste Reddit by a user named “the_grand_midwife” (here) (archived ).

In the entry, the user identified the tattoo as his own. “I thought I’d share my first tattoo. Purists don’t judge too harshly, I know it’s has (sic) a few different subtle differences in meaning, but to me it represents democratic socialism. Enjoy,” the post reads.

On July 5, the user dismissed allegations that related the photo to the Chicago Highland Park shooting in a Reddit post ( (archived . Asked if he was the shooter, he wrote “Jesus, no. I got that tattoo eight years ago. Turns out it shows up high in the Google image results for “socialist tattoo” so some idiot must’ve just gotten it from there. I appreciate the people like you who are calling this out.”

Contacted by Reuters on July 5, the user told Reuters he lives on the U.S. west coast and shared a recent image of his tattoo “a little faded but still definitely on MY arm and not Bobby Crimo’s,” he said.

Some users shared the misidentified rose tattoo photo alongside images of Crimo, including the following compilation (here)

The compilation includes a photo of Crimo in a grey sweatshirt (see similar one, photo 14 in Reuters gallery) (here), a screenshot of the Wikipedia site for The Rose in the Fist, a “liberal-socialist” Italian political party alliance (here) (here).

It also features a photograph of a person with pink hair wrapped in two ponytails, silver googles and a silver jacket. Reuters could not independently verify if this image depicts Crimo, but it can be found on websites that refer to his rapper alias, Awake The Rapper (here) (

As well as the red rose tattoo on his neck (see second image in gallery), Crimo has distinctive facial tattoos (here) (see first image in gallery) (here).

Investigations into the suspected shooter’s political views or ideological beliefs or motives are still ongoing as of this article’s publication.

Police said they did not know the motive for the shooting in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, but had no evidence of any anti-Semitic or racist basis. Investigators were reviewing videos he had made filled with violent imagery (here).

Online social media posts written by the suspect or under the Awake The Rapper alias often depicted violent images or messages.

One music video posted to YouTube under Awake The Rapper showed drawings of a stick figure holding a rifle in front of another figure spread on the ground.

At a news briefing on Tuesday, authorities cited two previous encounters between Crimo and law enforcement - an April 2019 emergency-911 call reporting he had attempted suicide and another in September of that year regarding alleged threats he had directed at family members.


Miscaptioned. This photograph does not show the tattooed arm of Robert E. Crimo III, the suspected gunman in the July 4 attack in Highland Park, Illinois. It was posted on Reddit in 2014 and the user, who is depicted in the photograph, has dismissed allegations of the tattoo belonging to the suspect.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .