Waukesha Christmas parade: 5 dead, over 40 hurt after SUV driver sped through police line
WAUKESHA, Wisconsin - Waukesha officials say five people are deceased and more than 40 people are hurt after an SUV driver sped through a police line and into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Sunday.
Waukesha is a suburb of Milwaukee.
A person of interest was in custody Sunday night. Investigators are looking into whether the person of interest was fleeing from a crime.
Police haven’t yet identified the "person of interest," but two law enforcement officials briefed on the matter provided the identification to The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The Associated Press said the person of interest has been identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks.
Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard was asked about reports from witnesses that the suspect was also shooting.
"We do not believe there were any shots fired from the vehicle," said the fire chief. Police said that an officer had opened fire at the suspect.
On Monday, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies confirmed that some of their members had been killed. Witness video and reports show that a marching band a youth dancing group were also run down.
During a news conference with Wisconsin Children's Monday morning, officials said 18 children were brought to the hospital following the incident.
Wisconsin Children's received their first patient at 5:30 p.m. Sunday and the last patient was brought in by 9:30 p.m.
The victims range in age from three-years-old to 16-years-old, and three sets of siblings were included in those 18 children brought to the hospital.
Injuries ranged from broken bones to serious head injuries.
Six patients were sent to the operating room Sunday night. Two additional patients were undergoing surgery Monday.
Watch the full update from Wisconsin Children's here:
"There were moms and dads yelling for their kids, people running around," said witness Jordan Woynilko, who shared a video of the aftermath on Twitter. "When I rewatched the video, I could hear people talking, and they were like, 'There's eight people injured down there. We need an ambulance over here.' There's one lady kneeling on the ground crying."
Moments before the chaos, Woynilko said children along the route had rushed up to the edge of the parade, where they received candy.
"This was 100% intentional in my opinion," he said. "He drove through the barriers on purpose, broke them, and he hit multiple people. If it was an accident, I could see that happening and maybe him stopping or driving off after hitting one person – but I saw at least 10 people laying on the ground. That was definitely intentional."
Waukesha school officials said that public schools would be closed on Monday, though grief counselors would be available.
FOX 6 Milwaukee reporter Sam Kraemer tweeted: "One man says ‘most of his family are in the hospital’ as he and his wife walked away. There are emergency crews everywhere… One man told me he saw about 30 people laying in the intersection of Main & Barstow."
Kraemer said that a woman who lives along the parade route saw the SUV barrel through a dance team of girls between 9 and 15 years old. She says the immediate reaction was silence, followed by screaming, running, checking on those injured.
On Facebook, a group called the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies said on Facebook:
"Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness. While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.
Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed.....joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue....held us together."
@KaleLern wrote on Twitter: "Right in front of my family, this man drives through the parade hitting as many people as possible while shooting out the window. He ran over several elderly women who were dancing in the parade and many others please pray for everyone in Waukesha."
This still image from a live video of the holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, shows a red vehicle speeding along the route.
Kaylee Staral, who identified herself on Twitter as a journalism student and intern at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote on Twitter: "A car just ran through the middle of a downtown Waukesha.l parade. Police shouting at least 30 people down and that shots were fired. Multiple people on the ground injured. Heavy police and ambulance presence now. Tons of families with children running to their cars to leave the scene."
Zach Heisler wrote on Twitter: "At the Waukesha Holiday parade and a car just broke through the police line, plowing through pedestrians and firing rounds out the window. Family and I are safe. Happened 20 feet in front of us."
Another person wrote on Twitter: "Holy s*** I was marching in the Waukesha holiday parade and someone drove into the parade and ran over a ton of people wtf".
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The Associated Press contributed to this report