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What was otherwise a festive scene in small-town Waukesha, Wisconsin, turned violent when a driver of the red SUV intentionally plowed through barricades and into the crowd celebrating Christmas Parade on Sunday evening, killing six people and injuring 48 others.
The much-anticipated occasion in the Waukesha local community turned from a happy, bustling atmosphere to absolute chaos.
An SUV broke through barricades roughly 40 minutes after the parade began, about 4:40 p.m. CST. The streets broke out into chaos as parents rushed to protect their children, and parade attendees took off, leaving an array of belongings behind.
Authorities recovered the SUV and identified the driver as 39-year-old Darrell E. Brooks Jr. He faces five (now six) counts of first-degree intentional homicide, said Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson, but did not comment on the possible motive.
Brooks was released from jail on a $1,000 bail on a domestic abuse case less than two weeks earlier.
According to a statement from the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office, Brooks will appear in court on Tuesday at 4 p.m. which initial charges will be filed. The court hearing will be available via live stream for public viewing.
Before driving his vehicle through the parade last Sunday afternoon, Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance with another person, Thompson said. Moreover, he confirmed that Brooks did not know anyone in the Christmas parade.
First responders initiated mass casualty protocols at the scene and immediately took 23 people to the hospital, including 12 children. Other people were taken by the police and family members to the nearby medical facilities.
Dancing grannies were among those killed, and Waukesha Catholic School students and church members were injured.
Angelito Tenorio, a political candidate, recalled seeing an SUV speeding down the parade route but was unsure whether it was a deliberate attack or an accident.
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly recounted a jubilant ambiance that swiftly turned nightmarish. He said:
“Today we experienced a horrible, senseless tragedy. I walked in the parade at the beginning. 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.”
Waukesha School District canceled classes for Monday. Counselors were provided at the schools for students in need of support.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Washington Post: 5 dead, more than 40 injured after SUV plows into crowd at Christmas parade in Wisconsin; by Reis Thebault, Andrea Salcedo, Bryan Pietsch, and Jennifer Hassan
CNN: Police identify the driver they say plowed into a Waukesha Christmas parade, leaving 5 people dead and 48 injured; by Joe Sutton, Keith Allen, Travis Caldwell, Holly Yan, and Amir Vera
ABC News: 8-year-old boy dies after being struck in Waukesha Christmas Parade; by Ben Wagner
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of chadkafka’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Steven Abbott’s Patch Collection’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License