MILWAUKEE – An SUV crashed into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, leaving several people dead and at least 20 people injured, authorities said Sunday.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said the investigation was ongoing but that a “suspicious vehicle” was found and that there is a person of interest in custody at the moment.
Some of the injured were taken by police to hospitals and others were taken by family members, said Thompson, who described the incidentas “very tragic” and “very chaotic”.He said he did not have an exact number of those killed, but that there were those killed.
Eleven adults and 12 children were transported to local hospitals by the Waukesha Fire Department, Fire Chief Steve Howard said at a news conference.
Police in Waukesha, located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, said the site is now safe and secure. .
The incident took place during one of the city’s largest and most treasured annual events, as the red SUV ran down the street and plowed into parade participants.
Videos posted on social media, including a live feed of the parade, driven by the city of Waukesha, show a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade took place.
A police officer fired shots at the SUV in an attempt to stop it, Thompson said, and no spectators were injured by the shot. He said police do not believe shots were fired from the SUV.
In the city footage, taken from a distance, the SUV whizzes into the parade just behind a school march orchestra. A reporter at the scene said a red SUV came barrel down the street and the crowd could hear the spout as it hit people, leaving many on the ground.
Corey Montiho, a board member in the Waukesha school district, said his daughter’s dance team was hit by the SUV.
“They were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere. I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter,” he said. “My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everyone. Please pray.”
“My family is safe, but many are not. I held a little girl’s head in my hand, she grabbed and she was bleeding out of her ears. I was holding her mother when she collapsed. Please pray.”
Thompson said it is unknown if the incident is linked to terrorism.
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‘Drowsy shouting and screaming’: The witness describes the chaotic scene
Angelito Tenorio, a councilor from West Allis who is running as treasurer in Wisconsin, said he had just finished marching in the parade with his family and friends before he saw the car drive through the parade.
“We saw an SUV cross over, just put the pedal to metal and just zoom full speed along the parade route,” Tenorio said. “And then we heard a loud bang, and just deafening screams and screams from people who were hit by the vehicle. And then we saw people running away or stop crying, and there are people on the ground who looked like they had been hit by the vehicle. “
Tenorio said he saw about 10 people, children and adults, on the ground who appeared to have been hit by the vehicle.
He added: “It all happened just so fast.”
Councilman Don Paul Browne said he had marched in front of the parade and was almost home when his wife wrote a text message asking if he was okay.
“I’m in shock,” he said. “This parade draws people from all over the world, even Jefferson County. I’m numb. It’s pretty outrageous.”
He added: “My tendency was to try to help, but that may be the last thing the police need. The best I can do is be a source of people. We have to worry about shootings now. It breaks my heart. “
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he and his wife, Kathy, “prayed for Waukesha tonight and all the children, families and community members affected by this senseless act.”
Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, who was at the parade but walked just before the event, called it “an indescribable tragedy affecting us all as we work to overcome two extremely challenging years and resume our beloved holiday traditions.”
The parade is sponsored by the City Chamber of Commerce. This year’s edition was the 59th of the event held each year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Waukesha is a western suburb of Milwaukee and about 55 miles north of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Kyle Rittenhouse on Friday was acquitted of charges stemming from the shooting of three men during riots in that city in August 2020.
Starring: Cathy Kozlowicz and Kaylee Staral, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Associated Press