5 Dead, 40 Hurt, as SUV Plows Into Crowd at Wisconsin Holiday Parade

5 Dead, 40 Hurt, as SUV Plows Into Crowd at Wisconsin Holiday Parade police lights Debris litters the street at a crime scene Sunday in Waukesha, Wisconsin. According to reports, an SUV drove through pedestrians at a holiday parade. (Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

By Nick Koutsobinas | Monday, 22 November 2021 06:38 AM

A speeding red SUV plowed through barriers and into a Christmas parade Sunday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, leaving five dead and at least 40 injured, police said.

A person of interest was in custody.

An officer with the Waukesha police told Newsmax that shots had been fired during the incident, but did not immediately know where or when.

The city of Waukesha posted on its social media accounts late Sunday that it could confirm at least five died and more than 40 were injured, while noting that it was still collecting information. The city's statement also noted that many people took themselves to hospitals.

A "person of interest" was in custody, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said, but he gave no details about the person or any possible motive. The investigation was ongoing, with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

According to Heavy.com, an officer reported that there were as many as 40 wounded or lifeless. Heavy adds that the shots fired came from the car that plowed through the parade,

Michael Hurst, a woodworker from Waukesha whose son was almost hit by the SUV, says, "We just heard screaming up the parade route and looked over, and the red jeep or SUV came barreling through."

"I pulled my son away. He probably got missed by about a foot. There was a little kid next to us that got hit," Hurst adds. "I did see dead bodies. The amount of people who are going to be dead from this, it might even be worse than that Las Vegas shooting. They have a whole block of Main Street that is casualties. We did hear that there were active shooters. We don't know where that came from or if that's true. The police pulled me into a building and said to stay in there, get in there, there's active shooters. One officer told us they did stop the active shooters. My son was out in that street grabbing candy."

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. It's unclear how many people are injured, and police said they could not immediately provide details.

In one video posted on social media, a red SUV appeared to speed toward marchers from behind, and in a second video police appeared to open fire on the same vehicle as it crashed through street barriers.

One video showed a woman screaming, “Oh my God!” repeatedly as a group of young dancers was struck Sunday. A father talked of going “from one crumpled body to the other” in search of his daughter. Members of a “Dancing Grannies” club were among those hit.

Another video shows a young child dancing in the street as the SUV speeds by, just a few feet from her, before it hurtles into parade participants a few hundred feet ahead. One video, of dancers with pompons, ends with a group of people tending to a girl on the ground.

"There were pompons and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere. I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter," Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school district board member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray."

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies posted on its Facebook page that "members of the group and volunteers were impacted and we are waiting for word on their conditions." The group’s profile describes it as a "group of grannies that meet once a week to practice routines for summer and winter parades."

A Catholic priest, multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren also were among those injured, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee spokeswoman Sandra Peterson said.

Photos and videos of Waukesha circulating on social media showed police cars and ambulances crowding a street decked out with Christmas lights in the aftermath of the incident. Bundled up people huddled on sidewalks as dusk fell.

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.

Mayor Shawn Reilly told WITI in Milwaukee that he did not believe there was any additional danger to the public.

Police in Waukesha, located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, were urging people to avoid the downtown area.

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.”

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 for the shooting of three men during unrest in that city in August 2020.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.