Several people were killed and more than 20 others were injured after a vehicle plowed into a Christmas parade in Wisconsin on Sunday in what appeared to be an intentional attack.
Officials in the city of Waukesha said 11 adults and 12 children were taken to hospital, with “some deaths,” but declined to release the death toll because families were still being notified.
A children’s hospital in Wisconsin later said it had received 15 patients.
Video from the livestream of the city parade, as well as phone clips from the audience, showed a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding down the road where the show was taking place.
At 4.39 p.m., the SUV rushed at high speed to the band members and fans who marched four parades in nearby formation, injuring several people and dispersing the crowd before driving.
• Latest updates on the Wisconsin incident
Police Chief Dan Thompson said his department had detained an important person and confiscated the vehicle. He said he does not yet know if there is any connection to terrorism.
He said he did not believe the SUV driver fired from a weapon after early reports of gunshots. Instead, he said, a police officer shot the car in an attempt to stop it.
“Today our community faced horror and tragedy in what should have been a community celebration,” said Waukesha Mayor Sean Reilly. “My heart goes out to all affected by this foolish act.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said he and his wife had been praying for Waukesha, while the White House said it was monitoring the situation. The state’s attorney general, Josh Cole, called the incident “disgusting,” and promised that whoever was responsible would be “brought to justice.”
Witnesses described how what was supposed to be a joyous occasion, the first personal holiday parade in Waukesha since before the pandemic, turned into horror when the unidentified driver crashed into the rally.
“He was going from side to side, targeting people,” said bystander Tyler Kotlarek, 28. The New York Times. “The car exploded. He was flying from there on purpose from left to right.”
Tom Hickey, 25, who walked in the back of the parade, said he saw the red Ford Escape slowly make its way through the crowd and honk until people got off the road.
Mr. Hickey said he thought the driver was lost, but then saw him turn right on the parade, fire the engine and speed into the crowd.
Angelito Tenorio, an alderman in nearby West Allis, told the Associated Press that the driver “just put the pedal to the metal.”
He continued, “Then we heard a loud bang.” “And then, we just heard deafening screams and screams from the crowd, from the people at the parade. And the people started rushing and running away with tears in their eyes crying.”
Tenorio said he saw about 10 people – children and adults – on the ground who were apparently hit by a car. “It happened very quickly,” he said. “It was so terrifying.”
Representative Don Paul Brown said he was walking the front of the show. “I’m in shock. This show attracts people from all over the world, even Jefferson County. I’m drugged. It’s so annoying,” he said. USA TODAY.
A parade group called Milwaukee Dancing Grannies said on Facebook that some of its members had been “impacted” and were waiting for more updates. I asked readers to keep grandmothers and anyone else injured in their prayers.
Police sent an emergency alert to people’s smartphones after the accident, hoping to keep the scene clear during the investigation.
More than a dozen units from both the fire and police departments were on the site, with the FBI and ATF (Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) assisted by the Waukesha police.
“It’s a very tragic, very chaotic accident,” said President Thompson. There are no more threats, the scene is now safe. My prayers and thoughts go to family members. We have an important person to look forward to at this time.”
Videos posted to the City of Waukesha Twitter account on Sunday afternoon showed marching teams and women dancing in festive clothes as crowds stood along the sidewalk and sat on the sidewalks.
A family reunion site has been set up at the Metro Transit Center off Bank Street, according to the police department’s Facebook page.