A speeding red SUV plowed through a Christmas parade on Sunday, triggering what reports are calling a mass casualty event. An officer with the Waukesha police told Newsmax that shots had been fired but offered no further details about where or when.
A police news conference revealed people had been killed, but the number or names of those killed was not given. Police said 11 adults and 12 children had been taken to hospitals.
A person of interest is in custody, they said.
According to Heavy, an officer reported that there were as many as 40 wounded or lifeless. Heavy adds that the shots fired came from the car that plowed through the parade, after which patrons began gathering loved ones inside shops.
A live video feed of the parade from the city of Waukesha showed a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place. It’s unclear how many people are injured, and police said they could not immediately provide details.
In one video posted on social media, a red SUV appeared to speed toward marchers from behind, and in a second video police appeared to open fire on the same vehicle as it crashed through street barriers.
Photos and videos of Waukesha circulating on Twitter showed police cars and ambulances crowding a street decked out with Christmas lights in the aftermath of the incident. Bundled up people huddled on sidewalks as dusk fell.
Chief Dan Thompson said the investigation was ongoing, but that a “suspect vehicle” was recovered. Some of the injured were taken by police to hospitals, and others were taken by family members, Thompson said.
“We have a person of interest that we are looking into at this time,” Thompson said. It wasn’t clear if the person was in custody; Thompson deferred questions until a later briefing.
Mayor Shawn Reilly told WITI in Milwaukee that he did not believe there was any current danger to the public.
Police in Waukesha, located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, were urging people to avoid the downtown area.
A live video feed of the parade from the city of Waukesha, as well as videos taken by parade attendees, showed a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place.
A video taken along the parade route showed a group of what appeared to be teenage girls dancing with white pompoms and wearing Santa hats. The SUV plows into the group as the person filming shouts, “Oh my God!” over and over. The video shows people tending to at least one of the girls on the ground.
Another video shows the SUV striking what appears to be members of a marching band and several others along the parade route before driving on. The sound of the marching band heard before the SUV approaches is replaced by screams.
Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school district board member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter’s dance team was hit by the SUV.
“They were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere. I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter,” he said. “My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray.”
Angelito Tenorio, a West Allis alderman who is running for Wisconsin state treasurer, told The Associated Press that he was watching the parade with his family when they saw the SUV come speeding into the area.
“Then we heard a loud bang,” Tenorio said. “And after that, we just heard deafening cries and screams from the crowd, from the people at the parade. And people started rushing, running away with tears in their eyes crying.”
Tenorio said he saw about 10 people, children and adults, on the ground who appeared to have been hit by the vehicle.
“It just happened so fast,” he said. “It was pretty horrifying.”
The parade is sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. This year’s edition was the 59th of the event that’s held each year the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Waukesha is a western suburb of Milwaukee, and about 55 miles north of Kenosha, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted Friday of charges stemming for the shooting of three men during unrest in that city in August 2020.
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.