WASHINGTON: A vehicle ploughed through barricades and into a Christmas parade, killing five people and wounding at least 40 others in the US state of Wisconsin on Sunday, police said.
The red SUV broke through barricades at the annual holiday event and sped into a school marching band. “We can confirm that 5 people are deceased and 40 are injured. However, these numbers may change as we collect additional information,” police said, adding they have a “person of interest in custody”.
Sandra Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Catholic church, said that “among the injured are one of our Catholic priests, as well as multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic school children.”
One witness, Angela O´Boyle, whose apartment overlooked the parade in the Milwaukee suburb, said: “All I heard was screaming and then people yelling out their children´s names”. Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson had earlier told reporters that officers had recovered the vehicle involved in the attack. A total of 11 adults and 12 children were taken to six area hospitals, Fire Chief Steven Howard told reporters. During the incident an officer fired at the SUV in an attempt to stop it, authorities added. Schools will not open Monday and roads will remain closed, Thompson said, while the investigation is continuing.
President Joe Biden has received a briefing on the situation and the White House was closely monitoring the situation in Waukesha, an administration official said. “Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible incident,” they said. “We have reached out to state and local officials to offer any support and assistance as needed.”
While local law enforcement was the primary responders, the FBI said it was also providing assistance. Angelito Tenorio, running for Wisconsin state treasurer, was at the parade and told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he “saw an SUV cross over, just put the pedal to the metal and just zooming full speed along the parade route.” “And then we heard a loud bang, and just deafening cries and screams from people who are struck by the vehicle,” he said.
The incident comes after a tumultuous week in the state of Wisconsin following the conclusion of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, an American teen acquitted after fatally shooting two men during Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality last year in Kenosha, located just 50 miles from Waukesha. The case and verdict have underscored racial tensions across the United States.
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