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5 Dead, Over 40 Injured At Christmas Parade By Felon Fleeing Other Crime Scene

Waukesha, WI – The driver of the SUV who killed at least five people and injured over 40 more during a jubilant Christmas parade late on Sunday afternoon in Waukesha had been released on bond on domestic violence charges just two days earlier.

Investigators were still trying to determine a potential motive for the attack, The Washington Post reported.

Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said during a press conference Sunday evening that it was unknown if “the incident has any nexus to terrorism” and noted the situation was still “very fluid.”

The Waukesha Fire Department (WFD) activated its “mass casualty protocols” and rushed 23 victims to local hospitals in the wake of the incident, WFD Chief Steven Howard said, according to The Washington Post.

Twelve of the victims transported were children.

Many other victims were transported to the hospital by private vehicles, according to the Associated Press.

The incident occurred after families lined the Main Street parade route as the joyous festivities got underway at approximately 4 p.m., The Washington Post reported.

“I walked in the parade at the beginning,” Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly told the paper. “I saw all the happy children sitting on the curb. I saw all the happy parents behind their children. I can still see the smiling faces.”

About 40 minutes later, the SUV barreled through safety barricades and started plowing into people.

The suspect sped down the parade route as several officers chased after the SUV on foot, The Washington Post reported.

Moments later, multiple emergency vehicles whizzed down Main Street with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

Chief Thompson said an officer fired at the suspect’s SUV at one point in an attempt to stop the driver from mowing down more people, The Washington Post reported.

No bystanders were injured by the gunfire, and the police chief said he didn’t know if the driver of the SUV was hit, according to the Associated Press.

Investigators said they do not believe the driver of the SUV fired any shots during the incident, The Washington Post reported.

Videos of the mayhem were shared widely online.

Waukesha School District Board Member Corey Montiho said he and his family were watching his daughter’s dance team’s performance when the SUV barreled down the street, hitting several of his daughter’s team members, The Washington Post reported.

“I saw bodies and kids and dads not breathing,” Montiho told the paper.

His daughter escaped without injuries, but several of her teammates remained in critical condition early Monday morning, he said.

Angelito Tenorio told the Associated Press he heard a “loud bang” shortly before the terror erupted.

“After that, we just heard deafening cries and screams from the crowd, from the people at the parade,” Tenorio recounted. “And people started rushing, running away with tears in their eyes, crying.”

“After the crowd had cleared out, that’s when I saw what looked like people who were laying on the ground, lifeless,” said Tenorio.

One father searching for his daughter said he began going from body to body, the Associated Press reported.

“There were pompoms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere,” he said. “I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter… My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray.”

Sandra Peterson, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said multiple parishioners, a Catholic priest, and several Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren were among the victims, the Associated Press reported.

“There were small children laying all over the road, there were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on multiple members of the parade,” Aspire Dance Center co-owner Chris Germain told the news outlet.

Mikey Randa, 14, said he saw a young girl being hit by the SUV as he was marching in the parade with his high school football teammates, The New York Times reported.

“The car just flew past us, there was a lot of panic,” Randa said.

The teen said he saw five or six bodies on the pavement after the vehicle sped off, The New York Times reported.

“I’m still in a bit of a shock,” Randa said.

Tyler Kotlarek said the driver appeared to be hitting people on purpose, The New York Times reported.

“It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Kotlarek said. “He was going from side to side, targeting people. The car bombed through. He was flying through there going intentionally from left to right.”

Peggy Tom, 58, said one of her friends is among the injured, The New York Times reported.

Tom recalled seeing “piles of instruments…. and shoes” as she searched for her friend.

Chief Thompson said police took “a person of interest” into custody, but provided no other details about the suspect, according to the Associated Press.

Investigators said they believe the driver may have been fleeing from another incident when he drove into the parade route, CNN reported.

Five law enforcement officials later identified the suspect as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks, Newsweek reported.

The sources said Brooks may have been fleeing the scene of a knife fight, according to Newsweek.

Brooks, who has a criminal history dating back to 1999, had bonded out of jail on a domestic abuse charge on Friday, Newsweek reported.

His pending charges from other criminal matters include battery, jail jumping, recklessly endangering safety with domestic abuse assessments, resisting or obstructing an officer, possession of a firearm while convicted of a felony.

“Today our community faced horror and tragedy in what should have been a community celebration,” Reilly said in a statement to The New York Times. “I’m deeply saddened to know that so many in our community went to a parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache.”

This is a developing story and we will keep you updated. For all of our updates, follow us on Facebook and go to your news feed preferences under your settings, then select that you want to see more of The Police Tribune’s posts in your news feed. Otherwise, Facebook may not show you updates.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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