As an SUV raced past barricades and into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, killing at least five people and wounding more than 40 others, a joyful image of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms turned deadly in an instant.
As a group of teenage dancers was struck on Sunday, one video showed a woman crying repeatedly, “Oh my God!” In pursuit of his daughter, a parent described traveling “from one crushed body to the next.” The victims included members of a “Dancing Grannies” organization.
Late Sunday, the city of Waukesha announced on social media that at least five people had died and more than 40 had been injured, but that it was still gathering information. Many individuals went to hospitals on their own, according to the city’s statement. The city did not provide any other details on the victims.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said a “person of interest” was in custody, but he didn’t say who it was or what their purpose could be. With the help of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the inquiry was still underway.
Attorney General Josh Kaul, the state’s top law enforcement official, said, “What happened in Waukesha today is terrible, and I have every faith that those responsible will be brought to justice.”
The city’s webcast and passersby’ cellphones captured the devastation. One footage captures the moment the SUV smashed past the barriers and the sound of many gunshots. According to Thompson, a Waukesha police officer discharged his weapon in an attempt to halt the car. The officer’s rounds did not hit any spectators, and Thompson claimed he didn’t know if the driver was hit by the officer’s bullets.
Another video shows a little child dancing on the street as the SUV races by her, only a few feet away, before crashing into parade participants a few hundred feet away. A group of individuals tends to a female on the ground in one video of pompom-wearing dancers.
“There were pompoms and shoes everywhere, as well as spilt hot chocolate.” Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school district board member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter.” “My wife and two children were on the verge of being struck. Please keep everyone in your prayers. “Pray for me.”
Some members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies were among the deceased, according to a statement on the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies’ Facebook page early Monday. “A bunch of grannies that meet once a week to rehearse routines for summer and winter parades,” according to the club’s description.
“Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of audiences in a parade, putting smiles on people’s faces of all ages, filling them with pleasure and happiness,” according to the post.
“The Grannies that died were highly passionate. Their eyes twinkled with delight… the joys of becoming a grandmother. They were the ‘glue’ that kept us all together.”
A Catholic priest, many parishioners, and Waukesha Catholic kids were among those hurt, according to Sandra Peterson of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
About 70 individuals were in the procession, according to Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Center class, ranging in age from 2 to 18 and being drawn in wagons. Germain, whose 3-year-old daughter was in the procession, said he was driving at the front of the line when he noticed a maroon SUV “just blazing right by us.” In pursuit, a police officer sped passed. Germain said he leapt out of his own SUV and ran to safety with the females that were with him.
He then took a step forward to see the damage.
“There were tiny children sprawled all over the road, and cops and EMTs were performing CPR on many procession participants,” he claimed.
Angelito Tenorio, a West Allis alderman vying for Wisconsin state treasurer, claimed he and his family were watching the procession when the SUV sped into the area.
“Then there was a big boom,” Tenorio explained. “And then we just heard loud shouts and cries from the throng, from the paradegoers.” And people began to flee, screaming and hurrying away with tears in their eyes.”
The Waukesha school system canceled classes on Monday and said extra counselors would be on hand for kids and staff, according to a message on the district’s website. Cheer, dance, and band entries from district schools were among the parade’s participants.
Gov. Tony Evers and his wife Kathy were “praying for Waukesha tonight and all the students, families, and community members touched by this horrible crime,” according to Evers.
On Sunday night, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that President Joe Biden had been informed. Local officials are being provided assistance, and “our hearts are with the families and the entire community,” she added.
The city’s Chamber of Commerce sponsors the parade, which takes place every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The subject for this year’s, the 59th, was “comfort and joy.”
Waukesha is a western Milwaukee suburb around 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Kenosha, where Kyle Rittenhouse was cleared of charges related from the shooting of three men amid riots there in August 2020.