Waukesha, Wis. – The SUV driver aboard a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, which killed at least five people and injured 48, was leaving the scene of a domestic dispute that happened just minutes earlier, Waukesha police chief said Monday. Said to

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Police Chief Dan Thompson said there was no evidence Sunday’s bloodshed was a terrorist attack or that the suspect, Darrell Brooks Jr., knew anyone at the parade. Brooks acted alone, the chief said.

Brooks, 39, of Milwaukee had left a site of domestic unrest before officers arrived, and was not being pursued by police at the time of the accident, according to the chief, who gave no further details on the dispute.

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Police said they are leveling five counts of intentional murder against Brooks.

He has been charged with crimes 16 times since 1999 and had two outstanding cases against him at the time of the parade disaster – one of which was charged with intentionally knocking a woman down from his vehicle.

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On Sunday, a joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing and waving in Santa hats gave way to screaming and SUVs rushing through barricades and dancing, musicians and others in the community of 72,000. Seeing the broken bodies being hit.

The deceased have been identified as four women aged 52 to 79 and an 81-year-old man. Among the dead were members of a Dancing Granny’s Club, as did a bank employee.

Mayor Sean Reilly described the parade as a “Norman Rockwell-type” event that “became a nightmare.”

“It looked like a dummy was being thrown in the air,” said Nicole Schneiter, who was there with her children and grandchildren. “It took a second to register, like, ‘Did we really just see that?’ And then you saw on the road and there were people just lying on the road.”

At least nine patients, most of them children, were listed in critical condition in two hospitals, and seven others were reported to be in critical condition.

The chief said that police were not chasing Brooks before entering the parade route, an officer fired a shot to try to stop him but stopped shooting because of the danger to others. Brooks was not injured.

Brooks has two open criminal cases in Milwaukee County. In one case, filed on November 5, he has been charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, bail jump and battery. Records show his $1,000 cash bond was posted on Friday.

In that case, a woman told police that after a fight, Brooks intentionally crushed her in a gas station parking lot with her vehicle. She was hospitalized for her injuries.

In the second case, filed in July 2020, Brooks is charged with reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a firearm.

His attorney in those cases, Joseph Domask, said he was not representing him in the parade accident.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said prosecutors’ recommendation of $1,000 bail for Brooks was “unreasonably low” given the charges. The DA office said it is probing the matter.

Republican Rebecca Klefisk, former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin who is running for governor in 2022, called the killings “yet another avoidable tragedy that allowed a violent career criminal to walk free and terrorize our community.” “

Brooks is an aspiring rapper. On a YouTube page, a video that has since been taken down shows him rapping in front of a red Ford SUV in parade. The rapper uses the name MathBoi Fly on his Twitter and other social media accounts.

The magnitude of the accident was recorded by livestreams of the city and by the cellphones of the spectators. A video shows the moment the SUV breaks through the barricades and includes clear gunshots.

“It was like a battle scene passing by,” said Ken Walter, who paraded in a basket of hot air balloons on a trailer with his wife and youngest son. “These were piles of blankets, on top of which the police were standing, which you knew were corpses.”

Walter said he looked at a red SUV and saw it hit a member of his real estate-agency parade crew, then barreled straight into the members of the Waukesha South High School marching band.

The SUV continued down the parade route. Behind it, people were screaming, running, looking for family and friends and unsure if they were still in danger, he recalled.

Schneiter said that after taking refuge in a store, she emerged in the street to see the bodies with strollers, chairs, candy and shoes.

Police have identified the dead as 79-year-old Virginia Sorenson; Lianna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies posted on their Facebook page that its members were “doing what they loved, performing in front of a crowd in a parade, putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness.” were.”

The emergency department’s medical director, Dr. Amy Drendell, said eighteen children, ages 3 to 16, were brought to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, including three siblings.

He said he had suffered serious injuries ranging from scratches on his face to broken bones and head injuries. The condition of six is ​​stated to be critical.

The Waukesha school district canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday and said additional counselors would be available for students and staff. The lineup of the parade included cheer, dance and band entries associated with the district schools.

Held each year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the parade is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. This year’s parade was the 59th.

Waukesha is about 55 miles (90 kilometers) from Kenosha, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted Friday of all charges of shooting two people to death and wounding a third during unrest in 2020.

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Bauer reported from Madison, Wis., and Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Doug Glass in Minneapolis, Kathleen Foodie in Chicago, Tammy Weber in Fenton, Michigan, Bernard Condon in New York and Michael Bisker in Washington contributed.

Improvement:

This story has been corrected to show that online court records indicate that Darrell Brooks Jr. faces charges in another case involving second-degree negligence endangering security and a previous case. The bail in the U.S. was US$1,000, not $500.