Waukesha parade attack not terrorism, suspect facing homicide charges

Police in Waukesha, Wisconsin have said the suspect in the Christmas parade attack intentionally drove his SUV into the crowd, and have asked prosecutors to charge him with homicide. The incident is not being treated as terrorism.

Darrell E. Brooks Jr. “intentionally drove his maroon SUV through barricades into a crowd of people” taking part in Sunday’s annual Christmas Parade, Police Chief Daniel Thompson told reporters on Monday. Five people were killed and 48 were injured, including two children who are in critical condition.

Brooks was allegedly involved in a “domestic disturbance” just prior, and fled before police arrived. The shots heard in social media videos of the incident came from a lone police officer who tried to stop him. No one was hurt from the gunfire.

“There is no evidence that this was a terrorist incident,” said Thompson.

Brooks was arrested shortly thereafter, and police have referred him to the district attorney’s office on five counts of “first degree intentional homicide,” the chief added.

The five dead were identified as Tamara Durand, 52; James Coolidge, 52; Wilhelm Hospel, 82; Leanna Owens, 71; and Virginia Sorenson, 79.

Mayor Shawn Reilly described Sunday’s events as “a senseless tragedy.” Waukesha, he said, is a “close community” where many residents have lived for generations, and the town has held a “Norman Rockwell type of Christmas parade” for decades. 

“Last night that parade became a nightmare,” Reilly said.

Monday’s press conference was the first time police named the suspect as Brooks. He was identified by the media on Sunday evening. Earlier on Monday, Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm also identified the suspect as Brooks and confirmed that he had been released on $1,000 bail on November 11, after trying to run over a woman he was arguing with.

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