Some were killed when an SUV crashed into the Christmas parade
Waukesha, Wes. An SUV sped through barricades and into a procession of Christmas protesters in a Milwaukee suburb on Sunday, killing several as it crashed into more than 20 adults and children in a horrific scene captured by the city’s live broadcasts and onlookers’ cellphones.
Dan Thompson, Waukesha police chief, said “some people” had been killed but did not give an exact number. He said someone was under arrest like the SUV, but he did not indicate a motive.
One of the videos shows a woman screaming, “Oh my God!” Over and over again after hitting a group of girls who wear Santa Claus hats and dance with white pompoms. The last SUV is shown plowing the members of a marching band, their music replaced with terrifying 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 others have taken to hospitals. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin said it had received 15 patients from the show and no deaths had been reported as of 8 p.m.
Milwaukee Archdiocese spokeswoman Sandra Peterson said a Catholic priest, several parishioners and Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren were among those injured.
Thompson said police detained the car. The investigation was ongoing with the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
“What happened in Waukesha today is disgusting, and I have complete confidence that those responsible will be brought to justice,” tweeted the state’s chief law enforcement official, Attorney General Josh Cole.
Thompson said that when the SUV broke through the barriers at the annual parade, a Waukesha police officer fired his gun in an attempt to stop the vehicle. No bystanders were injured, and Thompson said he did not know if the driver was shot by the officer.
One of the videos shows the moment the SUV broke through the barriers and the sound of what appeared to be several gunshots. Another video shows a little girl dancing in the street as the SUV drives fast, just a few feet from it, before rushing toward the parade participants a few hundred feet away.
The video of the Boom Boom dancers ends with a group of people looking after one of the girls who was on the floor.
Waukesha School Board member Corey Montehu told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter’s dance team was hit by the SUV.
Little balls and shoes were spilling hot chocolate everywhere. I had to move from one dismembered body to another to find my daughter. “My wife and daughters were almost injured. Please pray for everyone. Please pray.”
One participant in the show, Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, posted on her Facebook page that “group members and volunteers have been affected and we await word on their circumstances.” The group’s profile describes them as “a group of grandmothers who meet once a week to practice routines on summer and winter walks.”
About 70 girls in the show range from the ages of 2 little ones in gigs to the age of 18, said Chris German, co-owner of studio Aspire Dance Center. He was driving to the front of their entrance when he saw a chestnut SUV that “just caught fire in front of us”. He said a police officer came on foot, chasing after him. Germain said he jumped out of his SUV and collected the girls who were with him.
“There were young children lying on the road, there were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on several members of the show,” he said.
Angelito Tenorio, an alderman in West Ellis who is running for Wisconsin treasurer, said he was watching the show with his family when they saw the SUV speeding into the area.
Then we heard a loud bang,” Tenorio said. “And then, we just heard the deafening screams and screams of the crowd, of the people at the parade. And the people began to rush, ran away with tears in their eyes crying.”
The Waukesha School District canceled classes Monday and said in a notice on its website that additional counselors will be accessible to students and staff. Entrances to the procession included cheering, dancing, and a band associated with the area’s schools.
Governor Tony Evers said he and his wife, Kathy, “pray for Waukesha tonight and for all the children, families and members of the community affected by this foolish act.”
The show is sponsored by the City Chamber of Commerce. This year’s edition was the 59th edition of the event, which is held each year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Waukesha is a western suburb of Milwaukee, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Kenosha, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted Friday of charges stemming from the shooting of three men during unrest in that city in August 2020.
___ Reported Power from Madison, Wisconsin: Associated Press reporter Doug Glass contributed from Minneapolis.
The first paragraph of this story has been corrected to reflect that the SUV drove through the barriers, not the police line.
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