A man is in custody after allegedly driving an SUV during a busy Christmas parade, killing 5 people and injuring 48, local officials said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
Authorities have confirmed the suspect as Darrell E. Brooks.
Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson said officers believed the 39-year-old acted alone, adding that the incident was not considered a terrorist attack.
Police said Brooks faces five counts of intentional murder, with more charges likely to come.
Thompson said Brooks was involved in domestic unrest just before driving his SUV through the parade on Sunday afternoon.
Two children are also among the 48 injured, whose condition remains critical.
The incident took place at 4:39 pm when a red-coloured SUV rammed into one of the main streets of the city, hitting one of the crowd gathered on the parade route. Eyewitness videos posted on social media showed a marching band and dance group being hit from behind.
A police officer was captured in video firing while attempting to stop the vehicle. Police did not say whether the driver was hurt, but said the officer stopped firing when they realized the potential for injury to additional onlookers was high.
“While the suspect was driving through and in the crowd, an officer discharged his shotgun and fire shots at the suspect to stop the danger, but because of the amount of people, had to stop, stop and fire – no other Didn’t fire the extra shot,” he continued.
Thompson said the officer has been placed on administrative leave.
Wisconsin court records obtained by The Associated Press show someone with the same name facing recent charges stemming from the November 5 incident. From that incident, Brooks faces five charges, including two felony counts and one misdemeanor. The charges were filed under domestic abuse and resisting arrest, battery, bail jumping and reckless manslaughter. A $1,000 bail was posted on Friday.
Brooks has a second open case in July 2020 in which he faces two charges of reckless endangerment and one count of illegal possession of a firearm.
Children’s Wisconsin, one of the hospitals that received the patients, said in a press conference Monday afternoon that they are caring for 18 children. According to doctors, the children are in the age group of three to 16 years, some with cuts on the face, broken bones and serious head injuries. Doctors said that six children were operated on last night and two will be operated on Monday.
Of the ten patients admitted to the ICU, six are in critical condition, three are in critical condition and one is in good condition.
“Today we experienced a terrible, senseless tragedy,” Waukesha Mayor Sean Reilly said, speaking shortly after Sunday night’s incident.
Reilly, who was also a parade participant. Said that his “heart goes out to all those affected by this senseless act” and that he was saddened to learn those who went to a community event “end up having to deal with injury and heartache.”
The city of Waukesha acknowledged the incident on its Facebook page, saying the number of victims could change over time.
“The community mourns the loss of our community members and the injured. We are asking the community to come together and keep the families in their prayers during this time,” the statement reads.
Highlighting the community impact, one of the doctors said that “three sets of siblings” were hospitalised. Children’s Wisconsin said they will continue to monitor the health of their patients and help families in the process, including providing them with counseling and mental health support.
fundraising efforts The creation of the “United for Waukesha Community Fund” is also underway with the Waukesha County Community Foundation for families and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County.
— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press