According to officials, at least five people were killed, and more than 40 were injured when a vehicle ploughed through a Christmas parade in the US state of Wisconsin. A school band and a grannies’ dance group were among those marching through Waukesha when a red SUV came hurtling down the road. It killed dozens of people; many of them were children. One individual has been apprehended. According to one source, the event does not appear to be a terrorist attack “at this moment. The suspect looked to be escaping another event – potentially a knife fight – when he ran into people at the parade. A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation’s preliminary results told the BBC’s US partner CBS. It is unknown if the person in custody was the vehicle’s driver.
Local neighbour Angelito Tenorio told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper that the SUV “took the pedal to the metal and suddenly [began] flying full speed along the parade route” at approximately 16:40 (22:40 GMT) on Sunday. “Then we heard a big crash, followed by deafening shouts and screams from persons who had been hit by the vehicle”, he claimed.
The SUV struck Corey Montiho’s daughter’s dancing team, he claimed. “There were pom-poms, shoes, and hot chocolate all over the place. To find my daughter, I had to travel from one crumpled body to the next “He informed the newspaper about it. Sarah Saldivar, who attended the parade with her two small children, told CBS News that she witnessed “a red blur” and then “little girls soaring into the air”.
The parade in Waukesha, a 72,000-person municipality west of Milwaukee, is conducted every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and features a fancy dresses, floats, dancers, and marching bands. The theme for this year was “comfort and joy”. Families lined the road to see the ceremony, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
One video published on social media shows the car going through street barricades at high speeds. In contrast, another shows the vehicle ploughing into what seems to be a gathering of musicians. During the event, police officers sprinted along the street, encouraging people to seek refuge in stores. Officers fired at the automobile in an attempt to halt it, according to police Chief Dan Thompson.
Jason Kellner told the New York Times that he had just seen his kid march past with his school marching band when the automobile approached and “started mowing people down”. “I’ve never had a worse emotion than worrying what I’ll discover when I go to my baby,” he added. Mr Kellner discovered his kid uninjured at the side of the road, but he noticed other injured individuals and grabbed a bloodied saxophone from the roadway. Another witness told Milwaukee’s Fox6 TV station that when the truck hit a dance team of girls aged nine to fifteen, there was quiet, followed by shouting, fleeing, and checking on those hurt. According to the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, several of its members “were touched, and we are awaiting news on their status.”
“Please keep the Grannies, all those injured, and all those who saw this heinous crime in your thoughts and prayers,” the organization said on Facebook. According to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, one of its priests, many parishioners, and pupils at a nearby Catholic school were injured. CBS 58 uploaded photos of a red SUV with a crumpled bonnet sitting in a driveway on Twitter.
Chief Thompson stated that authorities had found a “suspect car” and that a person of interest was in custody but provided no other information. He went on to say that the inquiry was “extremely fluid”. Waukesha officials warned that the number of fatalities and injuries might vary as more information is gathered. Some people, they reported, had driven themselves to nearby hospitals. According to fire Chief Steven Howard, his crew transported 11 adults and 12 children to surrounding hospitals following the event.
As of 20:00, the Children’s Wisconsin hospital reported 15 patients, while the Aurora Medical Centre-Summit reported 13 patients, three of whom were in serious condition. The incident was described as a “terrible, pointless tragedy” by Mayor Shawn Reilly. “I am profoundly disappointed to learn that so many members of our community went to a parade but ended up coping with injuries and sadness,” he added. According to the White House, President Joe Biden is being kept up to speed on the event and has extended his assistance to local leaders.
In honour of the victims, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff across the state. Waukesha’s public schools will be closed on Monday, and the individuals affected will have access to counselling services. A community fund has been established to assist victims of the disaster.