WAUKESHA, Wis. — Authorities were determining Monday whether the driver of an SUV that hurtled through a barricade and slammed into a Christmas parade in suburban Waukesha on Sunday, killing at least five people and injuring more than 40, may have been fleeing another crime.

At least six children remain in critical condition after the car rammed through the parade, striking a high school band, children’s dance group and the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. The city’s livestream captured the stunning video of the crash, and Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said the number of dead and injured could change because many people took themselves to hospitals in the chaotic minutes after the tragedy.

Children’s Wisconsin Hospital received 18 patients from the ages of 3 to 16, including three sets of siblings, doctors say.

“Today was a tragic, horrible and unimaginable tragedy. Shawn Reilly from Waukesha, Mayor of Waukesha said that he walked at the beginning in the parade. I saw happy children sitting at the curb. Happy parents sat behind their kids. The smiling faces are still there.

Gov. Tony Evers directed that the flags should be flown at 50% on Mondays and the day of funerals. Evers stated that he and Kathy were praying for Waukesha and the families and children affected by this horrible act.

Which driver was behind the SUV?

Thompson said the investigation was ongoing and that a “suspect vehicle” was recovered. A person of interest was in custody, he said. Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, a Milwaukee man with an open court case related to domestic violence, was  the man taken into custody, according to a law enforcement source with firsthand knowledge of the situation. Brooks was charged in three separate cases within less than 2 years for recklessly endangering others’ safety. He was most recently charged Nov. 5, with a domestic violence incident, and also with resisting or obstruction of an officer.

According to the criminal complaint, Brooks ran Brooks over a woman who was walking in a parking lot of a gas station after following her after she had fought. Court records indicate that the woman was admitted to hospital.

Court records show that Brooks was released Friday by jail after posting bond for the latest incident. In July 2020, Brooks was also accused of two felonies of recklessly endangering safety using dangerous weapon. Both of these cases are still ongoing.

Named as suspectDarrell Brooks Jr. has been identified by the suspect in Waukesha’s Christmas Parade incident.

Was there a motive for this?

The motive of the man has not been publicly revealed by authorities. One law enforcement source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the man had been involved in an earlier incident on Sunday, possibly also related to domestic abuse, just before the parade carnage occurred.

What was the outcome of the parade?

Waukesha was a town of 72,000 just 20 minutes west of Milwaukee and was enjoying a holiday parade. Disaster struck around 4:39 PM local time. Angelito Tenorio, a West Allis alderman, 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.”

SUV slams into Wisconsin Christmas paradeperson of interest in custody

Did there have to be a shooting?

Thompson stated that a police officer shot at the SUV to try and stop it. Thompson said that no one was hurt by the shots fired at him. According to him, police do not believe that shots were fired from the vehicle.

Milwaukee Dancing Grannies members are also considered fatalities

According to their website the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies was established in 1984. The group meets once per week to work on routines and prepare for winter parades. They are made up of grandmothers from a range of ages, from early to middle-70s. The group published a post after the crash saying members and volunteers “were impacted and we are waiting for word on their conditions.” The group announced Monday that some of their members had died.

“The Grannies who were killed were passionate. They glowed with the joy of being a Grannnie. They were the glue (that) held us together,” the Facebook post said. Our hearts are broken at this time. We will post more details and updated information as they become available. You can keep their loved ones, friends, Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, as well as all others whose lives have been forever affected in your prayers.

Minimum 18 children were treated in hospital

While local hospitals continued to treat victims on Monday, questions remain over the number of deceased or injured.

Those injured suffered serious head injuries, broken bones and scrapes on their faces; six people were operated on Sunday night and two more were in surgery on Monday.

Three other children remained seriously ill in addition to six of the critically ill kids.

Aurora Medical Center–Summit, a hospital in Waukesha County, confirmed it was treating 13 patients early Monday. Of those 13, three people are in “critical” condition, four are in “serious” condition and six are in “fair” condition, according to a statement released by the hospital, which is located about 15 miles away from the scene of the tragedy.

“We are praying for all those impacted, their families and our first responders,” the statement said.

Staff at Children’s Wisconsin said the hospital helped treat a total of 18 kids who were injured at the parade.

Youth dance team struck

Corey Montiho (a Waukesha board member) said the SUV was a hit on his daughter’s dance group. The SUV sprayed hot chocolate and left behind pom-poms, shoes, and other debris. To find my daughter, I had to travel from one crumpled person to another,” he stated.

He said his wife and two daughters were almost hit. 

“My family and friends are safe. But many others are not. As I was holding the head of a little girl, her eyes were open and she began to bleed from her ears. She collapsed and I was there to hold her mother. Please pray.”

White House Issues Statement of Support for Victims

Jen Psaki (White House press secretary) stated that Joe Biden was informed about the incident via Twitter. She tweeted that “Our team is in constant touch with local officials, to offer any support or assistance required.” We are thinking of the victims’ families as well as the whole community.

Green Bay Packers is grateful to the first responders

Sunday was a day of reflection for the Green Bay Packers. They released a statement saying that their thoughts are with Waukesha and those who were affected by the senseless, terrible act at the holiday Parade.

The statement said, “We are thankful for the first responders as well as others who helped the injured and comforted people in need.” We offer our condolences to those who have lost loved ones. We must support one another in this difficult time as a state-wide community.”

Bacon reported out of Arlington, Va. Miller was reporting from Carlsbad. Contributing: Christopher Kuhagen. Mary Spicuzza. Molly Beck. Sophie Carson. Evan Casey. Cathy Kozlowicz. Elliot Hughes. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Celina Tebor, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Source: USAToday.com

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