WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — An SUV plowed into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha on Sunday, injuring more than 20 people, the city's police chief said.
Those injured appeared to include children, members of a marching band and a dance troupe, according to witnesses and videos of the incident posted online.
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.”
Gov. Tony Evers said he and his wife, Kathy, were “praying for Waukesha tonight and all the kids, families, and community members affected by this senseless act.”
Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, who was at the parade but left just before the incident, called it “an unspeakable tragedy, affecting us all as we work to overcome an extremely challenging two years and resume our cherished holiday traditions.”
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 from the shooting of three men during unrest in that city in August 2020.
___ Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.