SCOTT BOWER and MIKE DOMOHOLDER
WAUKESHA, Wisconsin (AP) – An SUV driver broke through the police line to a Christmas parade on Sunday, knocking over 20 adults and children down in a horrific scene, captured live on city air and on viewers’ mobile phones.
Waukeshi Police Chief Dan Thompson said “several” people were killed, but did not give the exact number. The man was in custody, but the police did not indicate a motive.
In one of the videos, a woman yells: “My God!” repeatedly after hitting a group of girls in Santa hats dancing with white pompoms. Another shows an SUV crashing into a marching band, their music replaced with frightened screams.
Fire chief Stephen Howard said 11 adults and 12 children were injured and taken to hospitals by his department. It is not known how many other wounded were taken to hospitals by others.
Police also detained the car, Thompson said. The investigation continued.
When the SUV broke through the barricades, a Waukesha cop fired a pistol in an attempt to stop the vehicle, Thompson said. Passers-by were unharmed, and Thompson said he did not know if the driver was hit by the officer’s bullets.
One video shows the moment when the SUV broke through the barricades and the sound of several shots.
The video, taken after the pom-pom dancers hit, ends with a group of people grooming one of the girls lying on the ground.
Corey Montijo, a Waukesha School District board member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter’s dance team was hit by an SUV.
“It was pom-poms and shoes, and hot chocolate was spilled all over the place. I had to move from one crumpled body to another to find my daughter, ”he said. “My wife and two daughters almost got hurt. Please pray for everyone. Please pray. “
Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Center studio, participated in the parade of about 70 girls from the age of two, who were dragged in vans, until the age of 18. Germaine, whose own 3-year-old daughter was in the parade, said he was driving at the head of their entrance when he saw a maroon SUV that “just flew past us.” According to him, a policeman came in pursuit of him. Germaine said he jumped out of his own SUV and gathered all of his girls.
“There were small children all over the road, police and emergency doctors giving artificial respiration to several parade participants,” he said.
Angelito Tenorio, a West Ellis alderman running for Wisconsin’s treasurer, said he watched the parade with his family when they saw an SUV racing through the area.
“Then we heard a loud bang,” said Tenorio. “And after that we just heard deafening screams from the crowd, people at the parade. And people began to rush, ran away with tears in their eyes and cried. “
Tenorio said he saw about 10 people on the ground, children and adults, who were apparently hit by a car.
“It happened so quickly,” he said. “It was pretty awful.”
Gov. Tony Evers said that he and his wife Katie “prayed tonight for Wokesha and all the children, families and community members affected by this senseless action.”
Waukesha County Executive Director Paul Farrow, who attended the parade but left shortly before the incident, called it “an unspeakable tragedy affecting us all as we work to overcome an extremely difficult two years and renew our cherished holiday traditions.”
The parade is sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. This year’s event was the 59th event held annually on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Waukesha is a western suburb of Milwaukee located about 55 miles north of Kenosha, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted Friday of charges of killing three men during the August 2020 riots in that city.
___ Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press reporter Doug Glass contributed from Minneapolis.