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Darrell Brooks Waukesha, WI: Man charged in Christmas parade tragedy to make 1st court appearance; another vigil planned


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WAUKESHA, Wis. (WLS) — The man charged with driving through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin Sunday night, leaving five people dead and 48 others injured, will make his first court appearance Tuesday.

Darrell E. Brooks, 39, of Milwaukee, has been charged with five counts of intentional homicide, Waukesha police announced Monday. Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said he intentionally drove through the downtown Christmas parade to get away from a domestic disturbance minutes earlier.

The chief said there was no police pursuit when Brooks drove through the barricades erected for the parade.

WATCH | Waukesha police announce charges in deadly parade crash

“We are confident he acted alone,” Thompson said, adding that there is no evidence the incident was a terrorist attack.

READ MORE | Who is Darrell Brooks?

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.

“I knew he was evil. There was no braking, and you don’t run into people without slamming on your brakes,” witness Jaymz Touchstone said.

Police in Waukesha, Wisconsin said Monday that four women ages 52 to 79, and an 81-year-old man were killed in the deadly crash about 20 miles west of Milwaukee.

The victims have been identified as:

-Virginia Sorenson, 79,
-LeAnna Owen, 71,
-Tamara Durand, 52,
-Jane Kulich, 52,
-Wilhelm Hospel, 81

Hundreds gathered for a vigil in a nearby park Monday night. Faith leaders, the police chief and the mayor of Waukesha all spoke, often emotionally, as they tried to comfort the crowd so shaken after the tragedy Sunday afternoon.

“I think when things like this happen it’s just important to be together in community,” said Susan Lewis, a Waukesha resident.

Huddled in the bitter cold, the attendees clutched candles as they tried to process the pandemonium of the day before.

RELATED: ‘Their eyes gleamed’: Members of Dancing Grannies group among Waukesha Christmas parade victims

“Today our community faced horror and tragedy in what should have been a community celebration,” Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said. “My heart goes out to all those affected by this senseless act. My heart goes out to all of those injured as well and their families. My heart goes out to all who are victims of these events. My heart goes out to those who lost a loved one tonight.”

Another vigil is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

“We are hurting, we are angry. We are sad, we are confused. We are thankful …. We are all in this together,” said Amanda Medina Roddy, with the Waukesha School District.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., a red SUV drove into the town’s Christmas parade, hitting multiple people, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said.

Dylan Porth and his 8-year-old son Mason were near the start of the parade route and watched as Brooks drove his SUV down the middle of the parade route.

“He accelerated, like he intentionally swerved toward the kids,” Porth said.

Hundreds had been in attendance at the parade, which had a theme of “comfort and joy.”

“So many in our community went to a parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache,” Reilly said. “I pray for all those that were injured, that they recover. I pray for those who lost a loved one.”

The city of Waukesha had a fire engine as part of the parade and responded as soon as calls started coming in, fire officials said.

Victims were transported to hospitals via ambulances, police officers and family members, according to officials.

RELATED: Car drives through Black Lives Matter protesters in Times Square: NYPD

The city fire department transported a total of 11 adults and 12 pediatric patients to six area hospitals, officials said.

Children’s Wisconsin hospital said it helped treat 18 children injured in the incident.

At least two of those children are in critical condition as of Tuesday morning, doctors said. The ages of those injured range from 3 to 16 years old, including three sets of siblings.

“We received with different levels of injuries; some were conscious, some were not conscious,” said Dr. Amy Drendel, the head of the hospital’s emergency department.

Injuries ranged from cuts to faces, broken bones to serious head injuries

“Instantly I ran to the street, and I was just holding this one girl who saw her brother get hit, and all she kept saying was ‘my brother my brother!” witness Mya Tucker said.

One group from the parade, the “Milwaukee Dancing Grannies” posted to Facebook saying they lost some of their own.

“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed… of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together. Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time,” the post said.

Three members of the group were killed, as was a man who volunteered for the group.

The fifth person killed was a local bank employee.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee was also impacted. One of its priests and multiple parishioners were injured.

SEE MORE: ‘I was grabbing my children’: Waukesha, Wisconsin parade survivor describes ‘screams and chaos’

Waukesha police said those experiencing emotional distress from the incident should call or text 800-985-5990.

Brooks is due in court Tuesday afternoon and could face additional charges as the investigation continues.

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