WAUKESHA, Wis. — It was presupposed to be a celebratory night time in Waukesha, Wis. Dance teams and highschool bands and politicians had been marching alongside Most important Avenue within the Milwaukee suburb’s Christmas parade, which was getting back from a pandemic hiatus.
Then, simply earlier than 4:40 p.m., the driving force of a pink S.U.V. stormed previous barricades and barreled via the gang, killing a number of individuals and putting dozens. Space hospitals reported treating no less than 30 sufferers, together with many kids. It was unclear how many individuals died or what might need motivated the episode.
“Right now our neighborhood confronted horror and tragedy in what ought to have been a neighborhood celebration,” stated Mayor Shawn Reilly, who described seeing smiling kids and glad dad and mom when he marched alongside the parade route earlier than the incident. “I’m deeply saddened to know that so many in our neighborhood went to a parade however ended up coping with harm and heartache.”
Chief Daniel Thompson of the Waukesha Police Division stated on Sunday night time that an individual of curiosity was in custody and that there was no additional risk. Eyewitnesses described the driving force as male, however that was not confirmed by the police. Chief Thompson stated pictures had been fired by the police on the driver.
A spokesman for Kids’s Wisconsin stated that hospital, which treats solely pediatric sufferers, had admitted 15 individuals on Sunday. Particulars about their situations weren’t instantly accessible. One other hospital, Aurora Medical Heart–Summit, stated in a press release that it was treating 13 sufferers, together with three in important situation. Officers at Froedtert Hospital stated in addition they had obtained sufferers however didn’t specify what number of.
The tragedy spoiled what members and onlookers described as a joyous night time in Waukesha, a bed room neighborhood about 20 miles west of Milwaukee. Greater than 60 entries, from the Waukesha Fireplace Division to the Outdated Automobile Membership to Santa, had been scheduled to march via downtown.
This was the 58th Christmas parade for Waukesha, an annual occasion that was canceled final 12 months due to the pandemic. The theme of this 12 months’s occasion was merely “Consolation and Pleasure.”
Jason Kellner, 49, stated that he had simply watched his son, a drum participant within the Waukesha South Excessive Faculty marching band, go by, when he first noticed a pink Ford Escape heading towards the gang. After passing via an intersection, Mr. Kellner stated, the automotive “began mowing individuals down.”
“I’ve by no means felt a worse feeling; questioning what I’m going to search out once I get to my child,” Mr. Kellner stated of the second he ran towards his son, whom he discovered standing unhurt by the facet of the highway.
Mr. Kellner stated he pulled a bloody saxophone off the road and noticed a number of individuals, apparently injured, on the bottom.
“Proper now, I’m simply offended,” Mr. Kellner stated. “It appears in all places we flip, it’s simply one other violent day within the U.S.”
Tyler Kotlarek, 28, was watching the parade with members of the family once they heard what at first gave the impression of cheering, however then they realized “it was screams,” he stated. “It was the worst factor I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Mr. Kotlarek stated the driving force appeared to deliberately steer towards individuals. That account had not been confirmed by the police.
“He was going back and forth, concentrating on individuals,” Mr. Kotlarek stated. “The automotive bombed via. He was flying via there going deliberately from left to proper.”
The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, which had been among the many parade entrants, stated on Fb that members and volunteers had been impacted “and we’re ready for phrase on their situations.” Officers with the Xtreme Dance crew, one other group that marched, requested for ideas, prayers and “privateness to course of the tragic occasions.” The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee stated a priest, in addition to parishioners and college students at an area Catholic college, had been among the many injured.
Tom Hickey, 25, was strolling close to a pal’s float behind the parade when he heard honking behind him. A person carrying a sweatshirt and grey hat who was driving the pink Ford Escape was attempting to make his manner via the gang, he stated. Mr. Hickey stated he thought the driving force was misplaced.
Then, the driving force took a proper flip onto the primary parade route, gunned the engine and moved via the parade route at what seemed to be high pace, he stated.
“When he made that proper flip, that’s when he turned actually harmful,” Mr. Hickey stated.
Angelito Tenorio, a candidate for state treasurer, had simply completed marching within the parade and was circling again to Most important Avenue when he noticed the S.U.V. dashing alongside the route.
“Rapidly I heard a loud bang,” stated Mr. Tenorio, an alderman for close by West Allis. “Then I heard deafening cries and screams. It was very gut-wrenching.”
He described a chaotic scene that left him surprised and shaking.
“Individuals had been working away, leaving their belongings behind, sobbing,” he stated. “When the gang cleared out, it seemed like there have been individuals on the bottom who might need been struck by the car.”
In a video posted on town’s Fb web page, the S.U.V. will be seen dashing down the parade route and screams will be heard from these within the crowd. Then, seconds later, a police officer runs by, adopted by quite a lot of police automobiles as a gaggle of kids stops performing.
Don Paul Browne, a metropolis alderman, was marching within the parade with the mayor however had already left and didn’t witness what occurred. He stated town was celebrating its a hundred and twenty fifth anniversary.
He described the parade as a family-friendly occasion that pulls spectators from different counties. He struggled to know what occurred, he stated, as a result of there have been no political undertones or controversy related with the parade.
Hours later, the households and band members had been gone and residents had been being requested to keep away from downtown. However alongside the parade route, resting towards the doorway to The Steaming Cup coffeehouse, three garden chairs had been illuminated by flashing pink and blue police lights.
Two of the chairs — one pink, the opposite blue — had been little one sized.
Andrés Martínez, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Vimal Patel, Juston Jones and Elizabeth Dias contributed reporting.