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Suspect who 'intentionally' drove into crowds at Christmas parade 'was fleeing domestic disturbance'

The man suspected of driving an SUV into crowds of people at a Christmas parade in Wisconsin had fled the scene of a "domestic disturbance" just minutes before police arrived, Waukesha police have said.

Darrell E Brooks, 39, "intentionally drove" through the crowds at the Waukesha Christmas parade on Sunday killing at least five people and injuring 48.

He had left the scene of the domestic incident and was not being chased by police at the time of the crash, according to a police chief.

Brooks has two open criminal cases in Milwaukee County.

In one case, filed on 5 November, he is charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangering, disorderly conduct, bail jumping and battery. Records show a $1,000 cash bond was posted on Friday.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office said it was conducting an internal review into the decision to release him on such an "inappropriately low" bail.

In the other case, filed in July 2020, Brooks is charged with reckless endangering and illegal possession of a firearm.

In the more recent one, a woman told police that Brooks deliberately ran her over with his vehicle in a petrol station parking area after a fight. She was taken to hospital for her injuries.

Darrell Brooks in a booking photograph at the Milwaukee County Jail on 3 November

 Reuters Darrell Brooks in a booking photograph at the Milwaukee County Jail on 3 November

Chief Dan Thompson, from Waukesha police, said the incident is not terror-related and Brooks, from Milwaukee, acted alone.

Chief Thompson said he will be charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Six children are in a critical condition, and the dead are four women and one man, aged between 52 and 81.

President Joe Biden said he and his family are praying for those suffering.

Waukesha's mayor, Shawn Reilly, says their annual parade has become a "nightmare" but the community will come together and a fund for the victims is being set up.

One video showed a woman screaming "Oh my God!" repeatedly as a group of young dancers was struck, while a father described going from "one crumpled body to the other" in search of his daughter.

"At this time, we can confirm that five people are deceased and over 40 are injured," the Waukesha Police Department said on its Facebook page. "However, these numbers may change as we collect additional information."

The SUV sped into crowds of people during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Pic: Jesus Ochoa

The pediatric trauma center at Wisconsin's Children's Hospital treated 18 kids aged between three and 16 years old, including three sets of siblings.

Injuries ranged from facial abrasions to broken bones, to serious head injuries.

Of them, ten are in intensive care - six are in critical condition, three are listed as serious and one is "fair". Eight patients were listed as "fair" condition and are in other departments that are not intensive care - two of whom were discharged last night.

Dr Michael Meyer, from the paediatric critical care team, said he could not say which dance troupes were involved, adding: "This has impacted a great number of members of our community and the groups that participated in the parade."

Children's Wisconsin has established a mental and behavioural support line for families.

Earlier, officials said a "person of interest" who may have a significant criminal history was being questioned overnight, adding that investigators were looking into the possibility the driver had been involved in an earlier incident involving a knife and was fleeing when the vehicle reached the parade.

The speeding SUV appeared to approach the parade from behind, and police chief Dan Thompson said an officer has shot at it in an attempt to stop it as it crashed through the barriers. It is estimated it was travelling at about 40mph.

No one was injured by the police gunshots.

Eleven adults and 12 children were taken to hospital after being hit by the vehicle and Mr Thompson confirmed there were "some fatalities". Many took themselves to hospital to be treated for injuries.

Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school district board member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter's dance team was hit by the vehicle.

"There were pompoms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere," he said.

"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."

Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Center studio, had about 70 people in the parade, including children as young as 2 being pulled in wagons and participants up to 18 years old.

"There were small children laying all over the road. There were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on multiple members of the parade," he said.

Milwaukee Dancing Grannies confirmed members of their troupe are among the dead.

In a Facebook post, the group said: "Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies." 

Reference: Sky News: 

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