A man drove a red SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Sunday, killing five people and injuring many others.
The suspect, 39-year-old Darrell E. Brooks, “intentionally drove his maroon SUV through barricades into a crowd of people,” Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson said to the press on Monday.
Brooks was fleeing the scene of a violent exchange where a knife was weilded. Brooks attempted to escape through Waukesha’s Main Street where the ongoing parade was being held. Brooks is being charged with five counts of intentional homicide.
“The suspect prior to the incident was involved in a domestic disturbance, which was minutes prior,” Thompson said. “And the suspect left that scene just prior to our arrival at that domestic disturbance.”
“There is no evidence this was a terrorist incident.”
Brooks had been released on $1,000 bail earlier in November after attempting to hit his ex-partner with the same SUV he drove through the parade. The district attorney’s office is reviewing this case and what a spokesman described as the “inappropriately low” bail.
‘Milwaukee Dancing Grannies’ killed in Waukesha tragedy
Thompson also said that four of the five pedestrians killed were members or associates of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies: Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81, a husband of one of the Grannies. The fifth victim, Jane Kulich, 52, was walking in the parade on behalf of her employer, Citizen Bank.
The Dancing Grannies took to Facebook to express their grief over the loss of Sorensen, Owen, Durand, and Hospel:
“Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness. While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.”
Kulich’s daughter, Taylor Smith, also published her feelings about the loss of her mother on social media:
“There’s no words. It’s so unreal. My mom was killed last night. We are told she didn’t suffer. Thank God. I’m so grateful I got to have her this long, but da**,” Taylor wrote. ‘She was walking in the parade last night. She was so happy. I love you mom. Rest in peace my beautiful angel.”
Gabrielle Kamentz, the granddaughter of Sorenson, who was a nurse, said that she would persevere through the rest of her time at nursing school and honor Sorenson’s memory by “following in her footsteps”:
“She had such a good heart. Such a good soul. She was the glue that held the family together. I’m still in shock and trying to process this as I write. As I continue through nursing school, I will live that legacy to her,” Kamentz said. “My grandmother was an incredible nurse. I’m so proud to be following in her footsteps.”