On Sunday, Nov. 21, a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, turned tragic after an SUV rammed through multiple people attending the event. Several people were killed and dozens more injured.
According to Kaylee Staral, an intern at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who was at the parade at the time of the incident, a red SUV “came running down the middle of the street” roughly 20 to 30 minutes after the parade began.
Witness Jordan Woyniko stated that moms and dads were “yelling for their kids” and people were running around. Just prior to the chaos, several children had rushed to the edge of the parade to receive candy.
Woyniko believes the incident was “100% intentional.” The driver drove through the barriers “on purpose,” breaking them and hitting multiple people. If it were an accident, the driver would have stopped or driven off after hitting just one person. However, he saw ten people on the ground, Woyniko says.
“At this time, we can confirm that 5 people are deceased and over 40 are injured. However, these numbers may change as we collect additional information. Many people have self-transported to area hospitals. The Police Department has the person of interest in custody,” the City of Waukesha tweeted.
The city’s fire department transported 11 adults and 12 pediatric patients to nearby hospitals. The White House is said to be “closely monitoring” the situation.
One witness estimates the car to have been traveling at a speed of around 40mph when it was hitting people. Another person saw the SUV ramming through a team of dancing girls who are believed to be between the ages of nine and 15 years old. The vehicle also hit several elderly women who were dancing in the parade.
A video shows the SUV narrowly missing hitting a baby girl who was dancing at the edge of the street. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee revealed that some of their members were injured in the incident, including several children.
“Children’s Wisconsin immediately prepared for a surge of patients after receiving notification from law enforcement of the incident at the Waukesha Holiday Christmas Parade. As of 8 p.m., Children’s Wisconsin received 15 patients from the incident, with no reported fatalities at our hospital at that time,” the hospital said in a Nov. 21 statement.
Officials have found the vehicle involved in the incident and have arrested a “person of interest.” However, they did not reveal the identity of the individual. Investigators will be interviewing “countless number of witnesses,” according to Ryan Windorff, president of the Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police. A timeline of events will be developed to track the activity of the person who drove the vehicle.
“I think at this point the terms ‘suspect’ and ‘person of interest’ are probably interchangeable… If there is a motive that is even determined, it will be released. But, I would just caution people to not jump to conclusions,” Windorff told Fox News.
Waukesha police have asked people to avoid the downtown area. Several streets in the region were closed off after the incident.