Disasters & Accidents

Waukesha police rule out terror attack in Christmas parade incident

(Update 1: Adds details, witness statement)

Washington, Nov 22 (EFE).- Waukesha police on Monday identified the driver of a red SUV that plowed through a Christmas parade, killing five people and injuring 48, and ruled out a terror attack.

At around 4.39 pm local time (22:39 GMT) on Sunday, the vehicle was driven at speed through the parade of dance groups, school bands and personalities of the city situated 30 kilometers west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Darrell E. Brooks, 39, of Milwaukee, is to be charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, Waukesha police chief Daniel Thompson said in a press conference. He added that additional charges were expected.

“There is no evidence that this is a terrorist incident,” Thompson said, adding later: “This is not a terrorist event.”

Immediately before the incident, the driver had been involved in “a domestic disturbance” that police had been called to nearby, the police chief said.

He added that an officer fired at the suspect to stop the incident, but due to the large crowd, the officer stopped shooting. He has been placed on administrative leave.

Brooks was arrested not far from where the incident took place.

“We are confident he acted alone,” Thompson said.

Those killed were identified as Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52 and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.

Witness Jordan Woynilko, 35, who had been at the parade with a friend, told Efe by phone that he and a friend were leaving a restaurant and saw the vehicle speed down the street. He said people started screaming and some ran into the restaurant.

He decided with his friend to return to his car and on the way, he said he saw people helping those who had been hit, people lying injured on the ground and some receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, who were parading at the time of the incident, confirmed on its Facebook page that some members lost their lives.

“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed…..joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together,” it said in a statement.

Among the injured are many children, with at least two in critical condition, Thompson said.

Children’s Wisconsin hospital said Monday on its Facebook page that it treated 18 minors between three and 16 years old, including three sets of siblings.

“Injuries ranged from facial abrasions, to broken bones, to serious head injuries,” it said.

Meanwhile, on Monday Biden thanked first responders, security forces and physicians for their work following the incident, making his remarks on the matter during a previously scheduled speech to announce his nomination of Jerome Powell to continue to head the Federal Reserve.

Calling it an “horrific act of violence,” Biden said that his wife “Jill and I – and the entire Biden family and I’m sure all of us – pray that … (the) spirit (of hope, togetherness and thanksgiving) is going to embrace and lift up all the victims of this tragedy, bringing comfort to those recovering from the injuries and wrapping the families of those that die in the support of their community.” EFE


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