No fewer than five people were killed and more than 40 injured when an SUV sped through a Christmas parade in the small town of Waukesha, Wisconsin in USA, plowing into dozens of people including young children.
As gathered, the parade was supposed to be a celebratory night in Waukesha yesterday, with dance groups, high school bands and politicians among those marching along Main Street in the Milwaukee suburb’s Christmas parade, which was returning from a pandemic hiatus. Then, just before 4:40 p.m., the driver of a red S.U.V. stormed past barricades and barreled through the crowd, striking dozens.
Confirming the development, Waukesha Police Chief, Dan Thompson, told reporters that one person was in custody and a vehicle had been recovered after the incident in the town of around 72,000 people, 20 miles (32 km) west of Milwaukee.
Police said the number of dead and injured could change. Thompson said that it was not clear whether the incident was terrorist in nature, but that there was no further danger and police had lifted an order urging people to shelter.
A video posted online showed a red sport utility vehicle driving at speed alongside and into the parade, appearing to run over more than a dozen people before crowds ran from sidewalks to offer assistance.
Thompson said an officer fired shots at the vehicle in an attempt to stop the carnage. Another video on social media appeared to show police firing on the vehicle as it crashed through street barriers. Police did not believe shots had been fired from the vehicle, Thompson added, contrary to earlier reports.
Nurse Jodi Singsime, 42, took shelter in a store with members of her family before going out to help the injured.
“I heard and saw the people being hit, but what you could do more than seeing is hearing, and just that sound was insane,” she said.
She choked up as she described coming across a small boy in the road: “I felt his neck for a pulse and he had one but his eyes were barely open and his face – all I can remember is his sweet little innocent face was purple. He wasn’t really with us.”
Belen Santamaria, her husband, and their three-year old daughter were planning to join the parade with their Catholic church. But Santamaria, a 39-year-old Mexican factory worker, woke up on Sunday with a backache, so the family watched the procession from the sidewalk instead.
“The SUV came by at full speed,” she said. “Then I started to hear people screaming.”
She hid in a restaurant with their daughter while her husband, 39-year-old delivery worker Jesus Ochoa, ran to try to help injured people. He said he heard through other members of their church that roughly 10 members of the congregation, mostly Latinos and both adults and children, were injured.
“I was going to be there, walking,” Santamaria said. “The SUV would have hit us too.”