Waukeshi residents say they are shocked, heartbroken and incredulous as the city struggles to recover from an attack on a Christmas parade that killed at least five and injured dozens.
As much of downtown Waukesh, Wisconsin remains closed, The Epoch Times told residents about a massive accident in which a red SUV drove through crowds at high speed Sunday night.
Suspect Darrell E. Brooks, 39, was identified by authorities on Monday and charged with five counts of premeditated murder.
Elizabeth Boyd, who works for real estate investment and property management firm Smart Asset Realty in downtown Waukesha, told The Epoch Times that while she was not at the Christmas parade, several of her colleagues who attended were shocked by what she saw.
“I’ve lived in Waukesh my whole life and I don’t think anything like this has happened before. It was very difficult to handle. It really breaks your heart, ”Boyd said.
Carla Maldonado, manager of Smart Asset Realty, said she met with colleagues on Monday to draw inspirational messages on their business windows. She told The Epoch Times that she was having trouble handling events that happened on Sunday night.
“It’s really cool. I couldn’t believe this could happen. I don’t think I fully processed “and most of the time I try not to think about it,” Maldonado said, adding that when her son told her about the incident, she was completely shocked and immediately called everyone she knew at the parade to make sure they were in security.
Standing in the block where the incident occurred, Sue Beadle, who moved to Waukesha from Chicago six years ago, said it was hard to believe such an incident could happen in the area.
“His [Waukesha] not restless and metropolitan, and it is full of kind, friendly and down-to-earth people, ”Beadle told The Epoch Times. “It’s a storybook town, all quirky shops and no crime. People from nearby cities visit Waukesha for festivals such as the parade. “
“It is hard to believe, they couldn’t believe this could happen. Grieving will take a long time, especially since it involves children, ”Beadle added. “It will take a long time for the city to cope and it has certainly changed the mood and atmosphere of the holiday season.”
The Wisconsin Children’s Hospital said in a statement that 18 children were among more than 40 people affected by the incident. According to police, two of them are in critical condition.
Police Chief Dan Thompson on Monday identified those killed as Virginia Sorenson, 79; Leanna Owens, 71 Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 82.
Local dance troupe Milwaukee Dancing Grannies confirmed in a Facebook post that several members were among those killed in the incident.
The suspect, Brooks, has two open criminal cases in Milwaukee County, including one filed on November 5, which shows that he was charged with resisting or obstructing a police officer, recklessly threatening, bullying, jumping on bail, and assaulting him. The $ 1,000 cash bond was reportedly placed on Friday.
The motives for the attack are not yet clear, but Thompson said it was not a terrorist attack.
Brooks is due to appear at the Waukesha County Courthouse at 4:00 pm CST for a preliminary hearing.
Videos from the Waukesh Christmas parade captured the moment a red SUV approached the parade and then accelerated and swept through dozens of people, including a group of young men waving white pompoms.
One video showed the car almost missed a small child in pink dancing on the side of the road, while another video, taken from an apartment overlooking the parade, showed an SUV rushing through the crowd without stopping.
A 50-year-old business owner in downtown Waukesha, who did not give her name for fear of repercussions, called the attack “a senseless act.”
“We will be fine. We can handle this. But it will take a long time, especially if someone dies or gets hurt during the holiday season, ”she told The Epoch Times. “I personally do not know any of the victims. But this is a small community and I just pray for the surviving victims and their families. ”
The Waukeshi Police Department has advised anyone who has witnessed a traumatic event and needs to talk to someone to contact a trained, caring counselor, providing a phone number for counseling services.
“We pray to all the victims of this tragedy. As a result of this senseless act, five people were killed and 48 were injured (this number may increase), ”the local police said in a statement.
A vigil was held on Monday evening at Cutler Park in Waukesh to commemorate the victims of the attack.