Suspect who 'intentionally' drove into crowds at Christmas parade was fleeing domestic disturbance, police say

The man who drove an SUV into crowds of people celebrating a Christmas parade in Wisconsin was fleeing the scene of a "domestic disturbance", Waukesha police have said. Darrell E Brooks, 39, left the

Suspect who 'intentionally' drove into crowds at Christmas parade was fleeing domestic disturbance, police say

The man who drove an SUV into crowds of people celebrating a Christmas parade in Wisconsin was fleeing the scene of a "domestic disturbance", Waukesha police have said.

Darrell E Brooks, 39, left the scene of domestic disturbance "minutes" before police officers arrived on the scene, and "intentionally drove" through the crowds.

Chief Dan Thompson, from Waukesha police, said the incident is not terror-related and Brooks, from Milwaukee, acted alone.

Wisconsin live updates: Six children 'critical' after SUV rampage left five dead

Picture Take November 3rd
Darrell Brooks poses for a booking photograph at the Milwaukee County Jail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. November 3, 2021. Picture taken November 3, 2021. Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY
Image: Darrell Brooks poses for a booking photograph at the Milwaukee County Jail ion 3 November

"At this time, the city of Waukesha police department is referring five counts of first-degree intentional homicide with additional charges based on the investigation - but those will come in time," said Chief Thompson.

Six children are in critical condition, five people have been killed and more than forty injured after the car plowed into dozens of people in the city of Waukesha, about 20 miles west of central Milwaukee, just before 5pm on Sunday.

Five women, and one man, aged between 52 and 81, died.

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An SUV speeds into a crowd of people during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Pic: Jesus Ochoa
Image: An SUV speeds into a crowd of people during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Pic: Jesus Ochoa
Remnants of the investigation remain downtown before clean up crews work down Main St in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Daniel Steinle NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Image: Remnants of the investigation remain downtown before clean-up crews work down Main Street

President Joe Biden said he, and his family, are praying for those suffering.

Waukesha's mayor, Shawn Reilly, says their annual parade has become a "nightmare" but the community will come together and a fund for the victims is being set up.

One video showed a woman screaming "Oh my God!" repeatedly as a group of young dancers was struck, while a father described going from "one crumpled body to the other" in search of his daughter.

"At this time, we can confirm that five people are deceased and over 40 are injured," the Waukesha Police Department said on its Facebook page. "However, these numbers may change as we collect additional information."

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'I heard and saw the people being hit'

The pediatric trauma center at Wisconsin's Children's Hospital treated 18 kids aged between three and 16 years old, including three sets of siblings.

Injuries ranged from facial abrasions to broken bones, to serious head injuries.

Of them, ten are in intensive care - six are in critical condition, three are listed as serious and one is "fair". Eight patients were listed as "fair" condition and are in other departments that are not intensive care - two of whom were discharged last night.

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Dr Michael Meyer, from the paediatric critical care team, said he could not say which dance troupes were involved, adding: "This has impacted a great number of members of our community and the groups that participated in the parade."

Children's Wisconsin has established a mental and behavioural support line for families.

Earlier, officials said a "person of interest" who may have a significant criminal history was being questioned overnight, adding that investigators were looking into the possibility the driver had been involved in an earlier incident involving a knife and was fleeing when the vehicle reached the parade.

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SUV misses child before being driven into crowd

The speeding SUV appeared to approach the parade from behind, and police chief Dan Thompson said an officer has shot at it in an attempt to stop it as it crashed through the barriers. It is estimated it was travelling at about 40mph.

No one was injured by the police gunshots.

Spilt candy is seen on Main Street the morning after a car plowed through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
Spilt candy is seen on Main Street the morning after a car plowed through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
Image: Spilt candy is seen on Main Street the morning after
A shoe circled in spray paint to mark as evidence are seen on Main Street the morning after a car plowed through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
Image: The SUV hit dozens of people

Eleven adults and 12 children were taken to hospital after being hit by the vehicle and Mr Thompson confirmed there were "some fatalities". Many took themselves to hospital to be treated for injuries.

Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school district board member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter's dance team was hit by the vehicle.

"There were pompoms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere," he said.

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'It was absolute chaos... people screaming'

"I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter," he said.

"My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray."

Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Center studio, had about 70 people in the parade, including children as young as 2 being pulled in wagons and participants up to 18 years old.

"There were small children laying all over the road. There were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on multiple members of the parade," he said.

Milwaukee Dancing Grannies confirmed members of their troupe are among the dead.

In a Facebook post, the group said: "Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies.

"Their eyes gleamed... joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue... held us together.

"Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time, as more information and updates become available it will be posted.

"Please keep them their families, friends, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and everyone who lives have forever changed in your thoughts and prayers."

The scene after a vehicle ploughs through a Christmas parade in in Waukesha, Wisconsin
Image: The scene after a vehicle ploughs through a Christmas parade in in Waukesha, Wisconsin
Police in Waukesha have urged people to avoid the downtown area
Image: Police in Waukesha have urged people to avoid the downtown area

Angela O'Boyle, whose apartment overlooked the Christmas parade, told CNN she heard people screaming and shouting for their children.

She said: "All I heard was screaming and then people yelling out their children's names."

Ms O'Boyle added that she "saw the car come and plow into the band that was just past my balcony at that point".

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Medics attend casualties in Waukesha street

"It hit at least two people right away and rolled over them.

"And then continued down the road to People's Park which is at the end of the block and then kept going, it didn't stop."