MILWAUKEE — An SUV sped into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, leaving at least 20 people injured, authorities said Sunday.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said the investigation was ongoing, but that a “suspect vehicle” was recovered and that “there is a “person of interest we’re looking into.” It wasn’t clear if the person was in custody.
Some of the injured were taken by police to hospitals, and others were taken by family members, Thompson said, describing the incident “very tragic” and “very chaotic.”
Waukesha police, which is located 20 miles west from Milwaukee, advised people to stay away from the city’s downtown. WITI Milwaukee’s Shawn Reilly stated that he believes there is no current threat to the public.
It happened during the annual city event, the Red SUV raced down Main Street and crashed into participants in the parade.
Social media posts, which include a live stream of the Parade operated by City of Waukesha show the red SUV speeding through the barriers to get into the road where it was being held.
In the city’s footage, taken from a distance, the SUV speeds into the parade just behind a school marching band. The reporter on scene stated that the SUV was a red one and came down the street. Many people could hear it hitting them, leaving others on the ground.
Corey Montiho is a Waukesha district school board member who said that the SUV hit his daughter’s dance group.
There were hot chocolate stains everywhere and they had pom-poms, shoes, and even shoes. To find my daughter, I had to walk from crumpled bodies to another,” he explained. My wife and my two daughters almost got killed. We ask for prayers for all. Pray for everyone.
“My family and friends are safe. But many others are not. As I held the head of a little girl in my hands, she began to seize and was bleeding from her ears. As she fell to the ground, I held her mother. Please pray.”
The evening is advancing with this news:Sign up to the Evening Briefing for an updated version of this story later in the evening.
‘Deafening cries and screams’: Witness describes the chaotic scene
Angelito Tenorio, a West Allis alderman who is running for Wisconsin state treasurer, said he had just finished marching in the parade with his family and friends before he saw the car drive through the parade.
“We saw an SUV cross over, just put the pedal to the metal and just zooming full speed along the parade route,” Tenorio said. “And then we heard a loud bang, and just deafening cries and screams from people who are struck by the vehicle. And then we saw people running away or stopping crying, and there are people on the ground who looked like they’d been hit by the vehicle.”
Tenorio claimed that about 10 people were on the ground and appeared to be hit by the car.
He added, “It just all happened so fast.”
Alderman Don Paul Browne said he had been marching in the front of the parade and was almost home when his wife texted asking if he was okay.
He stated, “I am shocked.” The parade brings people together from every corner of the United States, Jefferson County included. I am numb. It’s quite upsetting.”
He stated, “My natural instinct was to offer assistance, but this may not be necessary for the police. My best effort is to be an advocate for others. It is time to start worrying about the shootings. This breaks my heart.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he and his wife, Kathy, were “praying for Waukesha tonight and all the kids, families, and community members affected by this senseless act.”
Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, who was at the parade but left just before the incident, called it “an unspeakable tragedy, affecting us all as we work to overcome an extremely challenging two years and resume our cherished holiday traditions.”
The parade is sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. This year’s edition was the 59th of the event that’s held each year the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Waukesha is a western suburb of Milwaukee, and about 55 miles north of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted Friday of charges stemming from the shooting of three men during unrest in that city in August 2020.
Contributing: Celina Tebor, USA TODAY; Cathy Kozlowicz and Kaylee Staral, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The Associated Press