WAUKESHA, Wis. — The driver of an SUV that hurtled through a barricade and slammed into a Christmas parade in suburban Waukesha on Sunday was fleeing from a domestic disturbance moments before he killed at least five people and injured more than 40 others, police said.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson stated Monday that Darrell Brooks Jr. was running from a domestic disturbance and a knife report when he ran into the parade. Thompson stated that Brooks wasn’t being pursued. He will be charged with five counts of intentional homicide, Thompson added.
The deceased victims’ ages range from 52 to 81 years old. Thompson said 48 others were injured in the crash, which was captured on the city’s livestream as the car rammed struck high school band, children’s dance group and the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
Officials at the local hospital said Monday that six of their patients are still in critical condition. 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, Waukesha Mayor, stated that he was a participant in the parade from the start. I saw happy children sitting at the curb. Happy parents sat behind their kids. The smiling faces are still there.
Gov. Tony Evers instructed that flags fly at half-staff Monday through the funerals of the victims. Evers stated that he and Kathy were praying for Waukesha and the families and children affected by this horrible act. The city of Waukesha said it would hold an interfaith prayer vigil Monday.
Who drove the SUV’s driver?
Brooks, 39, a Milwaukee man with an open court case related to domestic violence, was arrested and will face five first-degree intentional homicide charges, Thompson said.
Thompson provided few details of the domestic disturbance to which police were called beyond that there was a report of a knife. He said police did not respond to that scene before they immediately went to the parade. Thompson claimed Brooks was acting on his own and that there were no signs of terrorist acts.
Thompson explained that “this is a fluid inquiry.”
Brooks was charged in three cases within less than 2 years for recklessly endangering others’ safety. He was most recently charged Nov. 5, with domestic abuse, 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.
According to court records, Brooks was released on Friday from prison after posting bail in connection with the incident. In July 2020, Brooks was also accused of two felonies of recklessly endangering safety using dangerous weapons. These cases remain open.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said it has launched an internal review of its “inappropriately low” bail recommendation in the recent domestic violence related case. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office reports that Brooks had posted a $1,000 bond.
Named suspect:Darrell Brooks Jr. was identified as the Suspect in Waukesha Christmas parade incident.
Was it a success?
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
Thompson stated that he saw the accident scene within minutes of the incident. “What I saw out of chaos and tragedy was heroes,” he said. “First responders, the community and their efforts to triage victims together was a great thing.”
Did there have to be a shooting?
Thompson stated that a police officer attempted to fire gunshots at an SUV to slow it down, but was unsuccessful. Gunfire didn’t injure anyone. Police don’t think any shots were fired out of the SUV, he said. The officer who fired the shots was on administrative leave pending an investigation per department policy, Thompson said.
The victims: The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are also among those who were killed.
Among the victims of the crash were members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and a team member from Citizen Bank who was walking with a parade float.
Virginia “Ginny” Sorenson, 79, was a 19-year veteran of the Dancing Grannies, a group of grandmothers in their early 50s to mid-70s who met once a week to practice routines for parades.
What did she love about it? David Sorenson her husband for 56 years said, “Everything.” The instructing was a favorite pastime of hers. She loved the music and camaraderie among the women. She enjoyed performing.”
Ginny Sorenson, a registered nurse, still works part-time in medical records. In Muskego, Ginny Sorenson cared about animals. She had two horses, chickens and dogs. She used the extra money for the animals and treats for her grandchildren, her daughter Heather Sorenson said. Grannies for Sorensons were a family activity.
Beth Krohn, who is a former member of the Grannies said that “The Grannies were kind of a tight unit.” It used to be called a sisterhood.
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. They left hot chocolate all over the place and were covered in pom-poms, shoes and other accessories. He said, “I had to move from one crumpled body the other in order to find my girl.”
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. As she fell to the ground, I held her mother. Please pray.”
White House Issues Statement of Support for Victims
Monday’s tragedy was addressed by President Joe Biden. He stated that the entire community had to confront the terrible act of violence.
Biden indicated that the administration was closely watching these events and that Biden and his family are praying for all those who were affected.
Jen Psaki (White House press secretary) said, “Our team keeps in touch with local officials so that they can offer any support or assistance necessary.” Tweet. Our hearts go out to the family and entire community.
Green Bay Packers are grateful for the first responders
Sunday’s statement by The Green Bay Packers stated that the Packers were thinking of the Waukesha community as well as those affected by “the terrible and senseless 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. “As a community we all must come together and support each other during these trying times.”
Bacon reported out of Arlington, Va. Miller was reporting from Carlsbad. Bill Glauber
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