Wisconsin authorities investigatedthe driver of a red jeepwho say they deliberately drove their SUV through barricades and into a crowd celebrating the Waukesha Christmas Parade.
Darrell E. Brooks Jr.,The 39-year-old man reportedly acted alone on Sunday and is the only suspect, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Monday. Brooks faces five counts of first-degree murder, with additional charges based on the investigation, Thompson said.
Brooks was released from jail less than two weeks ago on $1,000 bond, which prosecutors recommended and now call "excessively low," on a domestic violence charge.
Brooks will appear in court for the first time at 4 pm. CT on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Waukesha County Prosecutor's Office, the charges will be dropped. The hearing will be open to the public via live broadcast.
"We are working closely with the City of Waukesha Police Department to review the matter and determine what criminal charges to file," the statement said.
Thompson said Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance with another person shortly before driving his truck through the parade Sunday afternoon. Police were unable to respond to the initial call about the domestic incident because he had to respond to the parade very quickly after receiving the call, the chief said.
The police stressed that the incident was not preceded by a police chase.
Thompson said there was no information that Brooks knew anyone at the show.
Five people died in the process.Incident. They ranged in age from 52 to 81, Thompson said.
The city identified the victims as:
- Virginia Sorenson, 79
- Ana Owen, 71
- Tamara Durand, 52 years old
- Jane Kulich, 52 years old
- William Hospital, 81
Acknowledging the heroism of bystanders at the scene, the police chief said first responders and local residents worked together to triage the victims and get them as stable as possible.
He said that the officials and citizens took the victims to the hospital in their personal vehicles.
At least 18 children were hospitalized after the parade, said Children's Wisconsin, a children's hospital outside Milwaukee.
Thompson said the incident was not a terrorist event. the accident too seems unrelated to the recent verdictJuicio de Kyle Rittenhouse en Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the preliminary results of the investigation.
Suspect released on bail after previous incident, DA says
Brooks was released on $1,000 bail earlier this month, according to court documents and the Milwaukee County Prosecutor's Office, which said in a statement that bail was set "excessively low."
Brooks posted bail on November 11 in connection with charges including domestic violence. The charges stem from a Nov. 2 incident in which Brooks is accused of hitting a woman with her car as she was walking through a gas station parking lot, according to a criminal complaint.
Darrell Brooks in a booking photo dated November 3.
“Officers found tire tracks on the left leg of his pants,” the criminal complaint said.
Prosecutors filed five counts related to the incident, including: obstructing a police officer, second-degree reckless threat to safety in a domestic violence investigation, disorderly conduct in a domestic violence investigation, and related assault. with domestic violence.
Brooks was also charged with skipping bail because he was already out on bond after a July 24, 2020 incident, according to court documents.
In a statement, the Milwaukee District Attorney's Office says it should not have recommended Brooks' bail so low and has launched an internal review of the decision.
“The state's bail recommendation in this case was unreasonably low given the nature of the recent charges and the charges pending against Mr. Brooks,” the office statement said. "The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the Milwaukee County District Attorney's approach to violent crimes, nor with the defendant's risk assessment prior to posting bail."
CNN has reached out to Brooks' attorney regarding prosecution testimony from the 2020 and prior incident in November 2021, but has yet to receive a response.
With the 2020 incident, Brooks faces charges of firing a weapon during an argument, according to a prosecutor's complaint. Arresting Brooks, authorities said they found a stolen gun and three "color pills" that later tested "presumptive positive" for methamphetamine.
Brooks was charged with two counts of second degree security risk reckless use of a dangerous weapon and one count of criminal possession of a firearm.
Bail in this case was originally set at $10,000, but because Brooks requested a speedy trial that could not be honored, bail was lowered to $500. Brooks was released on bail in that case on February 21, according to The prosecutors.
Brooks has an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Nevada in an unrelated case for which he was arrested and released on bond, authorities said. CNN contacted a former Brooks attorney with no response.
According to Washoe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sarah Johns, on August 15, 2016, Nevada authorities issued an active warrant for Brooks' arrest for posting bail. Johns said detectives later determined that Brooks was in Wisconsin. "However, detectives had no useful information on the exact whereabouts of Brooks."
How the disaster unfolded
Families, including young children in strollers, snuggled in the cool breeze and lined the parade route on Main Street.
The live broadcast of the parade from the city showed that a band began to play "rattle bells".when a red jeep collided with the parade from behind. The spectators screamed in horror.
Another video captured by a parade attendee showed a young woman in a pink coat and hat dancing in the street as the van sped by, missing it by a few feet.
Another witness, Nathan Bryce, was capturedVideo of SUV opening barricades.
As of Monday morning, the parade participants' belongings were still scattered around the site as authorities tried to confirm what caused the accident.
"This is still a very fluid investigation," the chief told reporters on Sunday night. Children were among the injured, he said.
A Waukesha police officeropen fireto try to stop the driver and no bystanders were hit by the officer's fire, the chief said. Thompson added that he does not believe shots were fired from the vehicle.
"The scene is secure now," Thompson said.
Victims include members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies
Milwaukee Dancing Grannies says some members were victims of the parade incident (file photo).
Authorities have not released details of the five people killed, but theGrandmas Dancing in Milwaukeehe said some members of the group were among the victims.
"Our group did what they loved, performing to crowds in a parade that put smiles on the faces of all ages and filled them with joy and happiness."the dance troupe posted on Facebook.
"Those who died were extremely loving grandparents," the group said.
“Our hearts are heavy at this difficult time, as more information and updates become available, they will be posted. Keep their families, friends, the dancing grandmothers of Milwaukee, and all who have been forever changed in your thoughts and prayers."
Taylor Smith said her mother, Jane Kulich, 52, was representing her employer, Citizens Bank, at the parade when she was shot dead.
Jane Kulich was one of the victims who was struck by an SUV going through a crowd at the Waukesha Christmas Parade.
“She was a great mother and grandmother. Everyone loved her," Smith told CNN. Kulich is survived by three children and three grandchildren.
In a Facebook post, Smith wrote: "My mother was killed last night. We were told she did not suffer."
At least several of the injured were in critical condition.
Video of the parade posted on the city's Facebook page shows a red SUV speeding through the parade, followed by a police officer running past.
Aurora Medical Center-Summit, a Waukesha County hospital, said it was treating 13 patients as of Sunday night: three in critical condition, four in serious condition and six in fair condition.
Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, the only Level I trauma center in southeastern Wisconsin, said it was also treating patients from the parade incident, but did not give a number or specific conditions. Level I trauma centers generally care for the most critical patients.
The 18 children hospitalized at Children's Wisconsin had injuries ranging from "facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries," said Dr. Amy Drendel, medical director of the Wisconsin Children's Trauma and Emergency Center.
The children's ages range from 3 to 16, and the hospital's patients include three sets of siblings, Drendel said.
"He immediately hit and rolled at least two people"
AVideo obtained from CNNshows the moment when the vehicle hits the pedestrians. A red SUV hits a person in a marching band. The vehicle then continues forward, striking and running over others in the group and the crowd before driving away.
Angela O'Boyle, who lives in a fifth-floor apartment overlooking the parade route, told CNN she was on her balcony watching the festivities.
"The next thing I heard was screaming, I turned my head and saw the car come in and hit the gang, who was just behind my porch at the time," he said.
“He immediately hit at least two people and rolled them over. And then he continued down the street to People's Park, which is down the block, and then he continued, he didn't stop."
Boyle said he heard screaming and people calling out their children's names, adding: "It wasn't something I wanted to see...a little bit scary."
Kaylee Starl, pasante del Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,witness to the incidenthe said: "Probably about 20 or 30 minutes after the parade, a red van pulled up in the middle of the road - there was a lot of screaming - and we almost thought it might have been Santa Claus, but it was a red van and it hit a lot of people." .
Staral continued: "There were several people on the floor."
"Right in front of me, in the little place where I was sitting, there were probably four people down there, so a lot of people rushed over to check on them," Staral said. "I think the four people in front of me were still breathing, but they were down, not moving."
Schools closed in mourning for the community
Flags will be flown at half mast at "all military buildings, grounds and installations" across the state, Gov. Tony Evers said Monday.
"Today I ordered the flags of the United States and Wisconsin to fly at half mast as we continue to pray for the Waukesha community and the children, families and neighbors whose lives were forever changed last night by an unimaginable tragedy."The governor tweeted.
The Waukesha School District said it canceled classes Monday and will determine whether classes will resume Tuesday.
“The district will provide additional counselors during the school day in all buildings for any student in need of support services,” school officials said in a statement.
The White House is in contact with state and local officials, according to a White House official, and President Joe Biden has been informed.
"The White House is closely monitoring the situation in Waukesha, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by this terrible incident," the official said. "We reach out to state and local officials to offer support and assistance if needed."
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, Evan Perez, Claudia Dominguez, Justin Lear, Kay Jones, Alaa Elassar, Natasha Chen, Carroll Alvarado, Andy Rose, Arlette Saenz and Conor Powell contributed to this report.