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Waukesha parade ‘carnage’ was like a ‘war zone’: Darrell Brooks faces 5 counts of intentional homicide after driving into parade

Boston Herald logo Boston Herald 11/23/2021 Rick Sobey
Police stand near toppled chairs lining W. Main St. in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV drove into a parade of Christmas marchers, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP) © Provided by Boston Herald Police stand near toppled chairs lining W. Main St. in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV drove into a parade of Christmas marchers, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

The suspect accused of plowing into the Waukesha Christmas parade — leaving “carnage” and a “war zone” in his vehicle’s wake — is facing five counts of intentional homicide, police said a day after five people were killed and dozens were injured in the horrific wreck.

Darrell Brooks was apparently fleeing a domestic incident in his maroon SUV when he intentionally drove through police barricades at the Wisconsin parade and smashed into a crowd of people celebrating the holiday season.

The 39-year-old Milwaukee man with a lengthy criminal record is accused of killing five people and injuring 48 others, including two children who were in critical condition.

“It was just carnage,” Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard said at a press conference, later adding, “I guess what stands out in my mind from our conversations is we do have people who have military backgrounds and (they) likened it to a war zone.”

Police released the names and ages of the five people who died: Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; Wilhelm Hospel, 81.

“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,” the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies posted on social media. “While performing, the Grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause, which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.

“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies,” the group added. “Their eyes gleamed … joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue … (that) held us together.”

Brooks acted alone, and there’s no evidence it was a terrorist incident, according to Police Chief Dan Thompson.

One officer fired gunshots at Brooks to try to stop him, but the officer ceased firing because of the crowds, the police chief said. No one was injured as a result of the gunshots, he said.

There was no police pursuit that led up to the parade incident, the chief said. Police didn’t have time to respond to the domestic call, where the initial complaint involved a knife.

Additional charges for Brooks are expected based on the investigation.

“Those will come in time,” the police chief added.

The chief said when he responded to the scene, “What I saw out of chaos and tragedy was heroes,” noting that first responders and the community came together to help the victims.

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President Biden said five families in Waukesha were “facing fresh grief of a life without a loved one.”

“At least 40 Americans are suffering from injuries, some of them in critical condition and an entire community is struggling, struggling to cope with the horrific act of violence,” he added from the White House.

“The people of Waukesha were gathered to celebrate the start of a season of hope, and togetherness and Thanksgiving,” Biden said. “This morning, Jill and I — and the entire Biden family and I’m sure all of us — pray that that same spirit is going to embrace and lift up all the victims of this tragedy, bringing comfort to those recovering from the injuries and wrapping the families of those who died in the support of their community.”

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