Wisconsin police chief says car ramming not a ‘terrorist’ attack
Driver to face homicide charges for deaths at Wisconsin Christmas parade
Waukesha — Authorities will charge a man with multiple counts of homicide for driving into a crowded Christmas parade in Wisconsin, killing five, as the police chief said there are no indications that the incident was a ‘terrorist’ attack.
Police in Waukesha, a small city about 32km west of Milwaukee, said they did not know what caused Darrell E Brooks, a resident of Milwaukee, to drive into the crowd, injuring 48, including two children in critical condition.
“He drove right through the barricades and the officers,” Waukesha police chief Daniel Thompson told a briefing, adding the incident was not related to terrorism. Police were not pursuing Brooks when he ploughed into the parade, he said.
“Minutes after the incident occurred, I responded to the scene,” Thompson said. “And what I saw out of chaos and tragedy was heroes — first responders in the community coming together and working together on triaging victims.”
Police identified the five victims as Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
A police officer opened fire at the suspect but had to stop for the safety of bystanders, Thompson said.
Dozens of orange evidence circles were painted on the street and most shops were closed in the city’s downtown district. A woman tied a bouquet of flowers to a street post as police officers blocked intersections along the main road.
The FBI is assisting local police in their investigation.
Brooks was previously charged with restricting or obstructing an officer, bail jumping and battery. A $1,000 cash bond was posted earlier this month, according to a statement by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office.
“The state's bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr Brooks,” read the statement, which said the office was conducting an internal investigation.
The Children’s Wisconsin hospital officials said at a briefing they treated 18 children, including six who remained in critical condition and three in serious condition on Monday.
The rest were in fair condition or released. The hospital made no mention of any fatalities.
Schools will remain closed on Monday and additional counsellors will be available for students, the district superintendent of schools said. Waukesha authorities said a fund for the affected families had been set up.
US President Joe Biden said his administration was monitoring the situation in Waukesha “very closely.”
“The entire community is struggling, struggling to cope with these horrific acts of violence,” Biden told reporters on Monday.
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