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Parade crash: Cops say suspect was fleeing crime scene while killing 5, injuring 48 with car

Christmas Parade Waukesha Milwaukee
Posted at 6:52 PM, Nov 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 15:13:09-05

Police say a 39-year-old man was fleeing another crime scene when he drove his SUV into a Christmas parade in a Milwaukee suburb on Sunday evening, killing five people and injuring 48.

During a Monday press conference, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson confirmed that his department believes 39-year-old Darrell Brooks Jr. was fleeing a "domestic incident" involving a knife earlier on Sunday when he drove his SUV through a barrier and through the ongoing parade.

A video provided to Scripps station TMJ4 in Milwaukee shows a car driving through a busy section of the parade and hitting at least half a dozen people. Other videos showed the SUV speeding away. The event was also livestreamed on the city of Waukesha's Facebook page, capturing images of the incident.

Thompson said that one officer fired his weapon in the hopes of getting the driver to stop. No one suffered injuries as a result of the gunshots.

Thompson also clarified Monday that the crash was not being investigated as a terrorist incident and that there is no ongoing threat to the community.

Police recovered the vehicle shortly after the incident and quickly issued a shelter-in-place order for everyone within a half-mile radius of downtown Waukesha. The shelter-in-place was lifted after Brooks was taken into custody.

Brooks was not injured when he was taken into custody.

The victims killed in Sunday's crash were identified as 52-year-old James Coolidge, 52-year-old Tamara Durand, 82-year-old Wilhelm Hospel, 71-year-old Leanna Owens and 79-year-old Virginia Sorenson.

The 48 people injured included at least 18 children who were treated at nearby Children's Wisconsin hospital in Milwaukee. Six of those children remain in critical condition.

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.

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

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.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement Sunday evening that he is praying for the victims of the crash.

"Kathy and I are praying for Waukesha tonight and all the kids, families, and community members affected by this senseless act," Evers tweeted. "I'm grateful for the first responders and folks who acted quickly to help, and we are in contact with local partners as we await more information."

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow participated in the parade Sunday and released a statement.

"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," Farrow said in a statement. "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."

This story was originally published by Scripps station TMJ4 in Milwaukee.