ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy reports on the horrific incident - and the response from onlookers
Officials have identified a man taken into custody after a speeding vehicle ploughed into a festive parade in the US state of Wisconsin, killing five people, according to reports.
The incident left more than 40 people injured and at least five dead after an SUV sped into a Christmas parade of both adults and children in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha on Sunday.
Police named the victims as Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
Eighteen children, aged three to 16, were taken to Children’s Wisconsin Hospital, including three sets of siblings, said Dr. Amy Drendel, medical director of the emergency department.
They suffered injuries ranging from scrapes on their faces to broken bones and serious head injuries, she said. Six were in a critical condition.
Authorities from Waukesha, located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, confirmed the deaths in a statement late on Sunday.
Two law enforcement officials, who wished to remain anonymous, have now told the Associated Press that Darrell Brooks, 39, was the person taken into custody after a Waukesha police officer opened fire to try to stop the vehicle.
Online court records showed a person named Darrell Brooks Jr. who has two open criminal cases in Milwaukee County.
In one case, filed on November 5, he is charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, second-degree recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct, bail jumping and battery.
Records show that a $1,000 cash bond was posted November 19.
In the other case, filed in July 2020, Brooks is charged with reckless endangering and illegal possession of a firearm.
Police have not yet officially named the suspect, but local police chief Dan Thompson has said an investigation is ongoing, and that a “suspect vehicle” was recovered and a "person of interest" is in custody.
Another law enforcement official briefed on the matter has said investigators are examining whether the suspect had been fleeing from a crime - one involving a knife - when they crashed into the parade.
According to US media, investigators also disclosed that presently the incident didn't appear to be terror-related.
Nicole Schneiter, who was there with her children and grandchildren, said: “It looked like dummies being thrown in the air.
“It took a second to register, like, ‘Is that what we really just saw?’ And then you looked in the road and there were just people laying in road."
Phone footage shows the SUV racing through the parade before it hit a crowd of people
Local government official Angelito Tenorio said he was watching the parade with his family when they saw the red SUV come speeding into the area.
“Then we heard a loud bang,” Tenorio said. “And after that, we just heard deafening cries and screams from the crowd, from the people at the parade. And people started rushing, running away with tears in their eyes crying.”
Tenorio said he saw about 10 people, children and adults, on the ground who appeared to have been hit by the vehicle.
Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school district board member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter’s dance team was hit by the SUV.
“They were pompoms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere. 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".
A livestream of the parade from the City of Waukesha captured the moment the red car sped through the crowds, followed by a running police officer and law enforcement vehicles
Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Centre studio, had about 70 people in the parade ranging from the ages of two to 18. Germain said he was driving at the head of their entry when he saw an SUV that “just blazed right past us". Germain said he jumped out of his own SUV and gathered the girls who were with him to safety.
“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.
Earlier on Sunday, police in Waukesha were urging people to avoid the downtown area.
Some of those injured were taken by police to hospitals, and others were transported by family members, Thompson said. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin said it received 15 patients from the parade and no reported fatalities as of 8pm local time.
Fire Chief Steven Howard said 12 children were among those injured
As the SUV broke through barricades, a Waukesha police officer fired his gun in an attempt to stop the vehicle, Thompson said. No bystanders were injured and Thompson said he did not know if the driver was struck by the officer's bullets.
A live video feed of the parade from the city of Waukesha, as well as videos taken by parade attendees, showed the red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place.
The SUV was also captured striking what appears to be members of a marching band and several others along the parade route before driving on. The sound of the marching band heard before the SUV approaches is abruptly replaced by screams. Another, of dancers with pompoms, ends with a group of people tending to a girl on the ground.
"I could see kids just laying on the street, people putting blankets over them...kids screaming on the sidewalk," local resident Melinda Stoffel said.
Angela O'Boyle, another onlooker, said the SUV ploughed into the band, hitting "at least two people right away, rolled over both of them...then kept going. It didn't stop".
One entry in the parade, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, posted on its Facebook page that “members of the group and volunteers were impacted and we are waiting for word on their conditions.” The group’s profile describes them as a “group of grannies that meet once a week to practice routines for summer and winter parades”.
A Catholic priest, multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren were also among those injured, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee spokeswoman Sandra Peterson said.
President Joe Biden has been briefed about the incident, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Mayor Shawn Reilly told WITI in Milwaukee that he does not believe there is any current danger to the public.
But he described the tragedy as a “Norman Rockwell-type of Christmas parade” that “became a nightmare.”
The Waukesha school district cancelled classes on Monday and said in a notice on its website that grief counsellors would be on hand for students and staff. The parade’s list of entries included cheer, dance and band entries associated with district schools.
Held each year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the parade is sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. This year’s, the 59th, had the theme of “comfort and joy.”
The local government tweeted that a community fund has been established to support those impacted by the "tragic incident".