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6 dead, 62 people hurt after driver speeds into crowd at Waukesha Christmas parade

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Nov 21, 2021

WAUKESHA — Six people have died and more than 60 people were injured after a driver sped his car into the crowd at the Waukesha Christmas parade Sunday evening.

On Monday afternoon, police identified the suspect as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks, saying they were referring five charges of first-degree intentional homicide to the Milwaukee County DA's office. Police say they believe Brooks was fleeing a nearby 'domestic incident' when he sped into the Waukesha crowd, though they specified that officers were not chasing Brooks.

On Tuesday, Brooks made his first appearance in court and was officially charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Christmas Parade SUV
Police canvass the streets in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after a vehicle plowed into a Christmas parade hitting more than 20 people Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

The five victims who were killed were initially identified on Monday as Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 42, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81. On Tuesday, we learned that 8-year-old Jackson Sparks had also died. Sparks was one of 16 admitted to Children's Wisconsin after being injured at the parade.

Children's Wisconsin said 13 kids remain hospitalized as of Tuesday evening. Two families were able to take their children home Monday. The conditions of the 13 patients are as followed:

  • 6 in critical condition
  • 3 in fair condition
  • 4 in good condition

As of Tuesday afternoon, the tally of those injured in the tragedy had reached 62, according to a criminal complaint filed against Darrell Brooks.

The incident was live-streamed on the City's Facebook page. A video sent to TMJ4 shows a car driving through a busy section of the parade and hitting at least half a dozen people. The car continued to drive through the parade and then the video ended.

Police fired at the vehicle to try to stop it. They say none of those shots hurt anyone attending the parade.

Thomas Kluka Jr. was at the parade. He told TODAY he threw his daughter out of the way to avoid her being struck.

"I noticed him coming through the crowd and I noticed something was not right, and then I saw people flying as I stood up," Kluka told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.

"I'm like 'Oh no.' My daughter stood up, I threw her out of the way, then I basically yelled, 'Get out of the way,' and my wife got out of the way, and by the time she did, the car came right past me within at least two feet. I could've touched the car going by."

Among the injured are a Catholic priest, as well as several parishioners and Catholic school children, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said in a statement Sunday night. The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies also said in a post on Facebook that members of its group had been killed.

"Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness. While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts. Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed.....joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue....held us together," the group's Facebook post said.

"Our prayers are with the people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha," the Archdiocese said.

Christmas Parade SUV
Toppled chairs are seen among holiday decorations in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade injuring dozens of people Sunday, Nov 21. 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

The Waukesha School District announced that classes would be canceled Monday as a result of the incident and that counselors would be made available to students.

The incident happened on Main Street beginning at Barstow and going past Gasper. The vehicle had to drive past a barricade to get into the parade.

A reunification center has been set up near the metro transit center by Bank Street.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow issued a statement about the incident. He said he had just finished participating in the parade when learned about the car driving through the parade.

"Please pray for our community tonight after the horrific events at the Waukesha Christmas Parade. I had just finished participating in the parade with my wife when I noticed police sirens. Shortly afterward, I learned that a vehicle drove through the parade route injuring many people. Right now, we are still learning about what happened. This is an active investigation, and all updates tonight will come from our law enforcement partners. I have been in contact with Mayor Reilly and offered any resources the county could provide. I have also spoken with the Governor who offers his prayers and assistance. This is an unspeakable tragedy, affecting us all as we work to overcome an extremely challenging two years and resume our cherished holiday traditions. Keep the families affected in your thoughts as we work to offer whatever support we can."

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