A red SUV plowed into a Wisconsin Christmas parade Sunday afternoon, turning a cheerful annual event into terrifying tragedy.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson confirmed that there were fatalities but would not give any further information. At least 20 people were struck by the vehicle, he said.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said that 11 adults and 12 children were taken to hospitals, ferried by police, fire department personnel, and family members.
Thompson also said that the suspect vehicle had been located and that a “person of interest” was in custody, but he did not make clear if that person was a suspect.
The chief confirmed that one of his officers fired at the vehicle as it crashed through barriers along the parade route but said he doesn’t not believe any shots were fired from the vehicle itself.
Witness video and a livestream of the event, which happened just after 4:30 p.m., from the City of Waukesha showed several views of the SUV speeding down Main Street, slamming into a column of marching band members from Waukesha South High School, and then speeding out of the area over wooden barriers.
TRIGGER WARNING: 🚨DISTURBING VIDEO🚨A viewer sent in horrifying video the moment a red SUV plowed through a crowd during the #Waukesha Holiday Parade. Its currently unclear how many people have been injured. Updates to come on @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/u6q10VgTJ1
— Taylor Lumpkin (@TaylorLumpkinTV) November 22, 2021
Thompson said a family reunification center has been set up at Waukesha South and that grief counselors were available there.
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly called the incident a “horrible and senseless act.”
School board member Corey Montiho was watching the parade when he heard that his daughter’s youth dance team was hit.
“There were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere,” he said. “I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter. My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray. My family is safe but many are not. I held one little girl’s head in my hand, she was seizing and she was bleeding out of her ears. I held her mother as she collapsed. Please pray.”
Angelito Tenorio, a West Allis alderman who is running for Wisconsin state treasurer, said he had just finished walking in the parade and was heading back to Main Street.
“As we were walking back in between the buildings that we saw an SUV crossover, just put the pedal to the metal and just zooming full speed along the parade route. And then we heard a loud bang, and just deafening cries and screams from people who are who are struck by the vehicle,” Tenorio said. “And then, and then we saw people running away or stopping crying, and there, there are people on the ground who looked like they’d been hit by the vehicle.”
“It just all happened so fast,” he said.
BREAKING: First video of a red Ford Escape breaking through barriers after mowing down parade goers and firing rifle into crowd in Waukesha, WI pic.twitter.com/QHDi2fsKDz
— David Kimball (@wxandnews) November 21, 2021
A shelter in place was issued hours after the incident so that investigators could secure the scene, the chief said. The order has since been lifted.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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[Featured image: City of Waukesha Facebook livestream]