person taken into custody after an SUV plowed into holiday parade in Wisconsin, killing at least five people, has been identified by police as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks.
Milawaukee County Sheriff’s Office has released an image of Darrell Brooks.
In a news conference on Monday, Chief Dan Thompson, from Waukesha police department said the suspect “intentionally drove” through barricades into the parade.
At least five people – aged between 52 to 81-year-olds – were killed, and 48 more were injured.
Police said the vehicle was involved in a domestic disturbance before the incident.
Chief Thompson said it was not a terrorist event and there was no police pursuit beforehand.
Waukesha’s mayor, Shawn Reilly, told the media that their annual parade has become a “nightmare” but the community will come together and a fund for the victims is being set up.
Milwaukee children’s hospital said six children are in a critical condition as a paediatric trauma centre helped to treat 18 children who were injured in the Waukesha Christmas Parade on Sunday.
Eighteen children – aged three to 16 – were taken to a Milwaukee children’s hospital after the incident, said Dr Amy Drendel.
Six went into surgery last night and two more are having surgery today.
A initially joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms turned deadly in an instant, as the SUV sped through a barricade and into the parade.
One video showed a woman screaming, “Oh my God!” repeatedly as a group of young dancers was struck Sunday. A father talked of going “from one crumpled body to the other” in search of his daughter. Members of a “Dancing Grannies” club were among those hit.
“What took place in Waukesha today is sickening, and I have every confidence that those responsible will be brought to justice,” Attorney General Josh Kaul, the state’s top law enforcement officer, tweeted.
The horror was recorded by the city’s livestream and onlookers’ cellphones. One video shows the moment the SUV broke through the barricades and the sound of what appears to be several gunshots. Thompson said a Waukesha police officer fired his gun to try to stop the vehicle. No bystanders were injured by the gunfire, and Thompson said he did not know if the driver was struck by the officer’s bullets.
A woman told Milwaukee’s Fox6 TV station that the SUV hit a dance team of girls between 9 and 15 years old. She said the immediate reaction was silence, followed by screaming, running and checking on those injured. Footage on social media showed small groups surrounding injured girls with white pompoms scattered around.
The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies posted on its Facebook page that “members of the group and volunteers were impacted and we are waiting for word on their conditions.” The group’s profile describes them as a “group of grannies that meet once a week to practice routines for summer and winter parades.”
Mayor Shawn Reilly said it was a “traumatic” time for the city. “My heart goes out to all those affected by this senseless act,” he added.
A Catholic priest, multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren were among those injured, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee spokeswoman Sandra Peterson said.
Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Center studio, had about 70 people in the parade ranging from as young as 2 being pulled in wagons to age 18. Germain, whose 3-year-old daughter was in the parade, said he was driving at the head of their entry when he saw a maroon SUV that “just blazed right past us.”
A police officer ran past in chase. Germain said he jumped out of his own SUV and gathered the girls who were with him to safety.
Then he walked forward to see the damage.
“There were small children laying all over the road, there were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on multiple members of the parade,” he said.
Angelito Tenorio, a West Allis alderman who is running for Wisconsin state treasurer, said he was watching the parade with his family when they saw the SUV come speeding into the area.
“Then we heard a loud bang,” Tenorio said. “And after that, we just heard deafening cries and screams from the crowd, from the people at the parade. And people started rushing, running away with tears in their eyes, crying.”
President Joe Biden was briefed by aides about the events, a White House official said.
“The White House is closely monitoring the situation in Waukesha and our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible incident. We have reached out to state and local officials to offer any support and assistance as needed.”
“This is an unspeakable tragedy, affecting us all as we work to overcome an extremely challenging two years and resume our cherished holiday traditions,” Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said in a statement.
“I had just finished participating in the parade with my wife when I noticed police sirens. Shortly afterward, I learned that a vehicle drove through the parade route injuring many people. Please pray for our community tonight after the horrific events at the Waukesha Christmas Parade.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers wrote on Twitter: “Kathy and I are praying for Waukesha tonight and all the kids, families, and community members affected by this senseless act.
“I’m grateful for the first responders and folks who acted quickly to help, and we are in contact with local partners as we await more information.”
Schoolchildren will be given access to extra counsellors in school buildings after the horrifying incident, said the Waukesha School District, as it announced that classes would be cancelled for the day.
“Our thoughts are with everyone impacted, with all who witnessed the event, and our entire community,” it said.
It is not yet known whether the incident was related to terrorism, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said earlier.
The parade, held each year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. This year’s, the 59th, had the theme of “comfort and joy.”
Waukesha is a western suburb of Milwaukee, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Kenosha, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted Friday of charges stemming from the shooting of three men during unrest in that city in August 2020.