(Trends Wide) — As authorities reconstruct the circumstances of how and why a pickup truck slammed into the crowd during a Christmas parade Sunday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing 5 and injuring dozens, the alleged driver of the vehicle will make his first court appearance. on Tuesday.
Darrell E. Brooks, 39, is the only suspect, according to Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson. Brooks is scheduled to appear at 4 p.m. CT and will face the initial charges filed, according to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office.
“We are working closely with the Waukesha City Police Department to review the matter and decide what criminal charges will be issued,” the prosecution said Monday. Police said they would be referring five counts of intentional homicide, as well as other charges.
Brooks had been released from jail less than two weeks ago in a domestic abuse case, on a $ 1,000 bond that prosecutors recommended and now say was “inappropriately low.”
Police say Brooks is the man responsible for intentionally driving the van through a series of barricades and passing protesters and parade spectators at high speed, then running over people before running off the streets of Waukesha. , a city west of Milwaukee.
How the tragedy unfolded in Waukesha
Videos from the scene show a tragedy unfolding as witnesses describe the trauma of seeing pedestrians run over by the vehicle. In the chaos, first responders and residents worked to treat the victims, and some police officers and citizens transported the injured in their personal vehicles to the hospital, Thompson said.
Five people died Sunday and have been identified by authorities: Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52 years old; Jane Kulich, 52 years old; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
48 people have been treated at area hospitals, according to Waukesha Fire Marshal Steve Howard.
Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance with another person just before driving his truck through the parade, Thompson said, noting that police were unable to respond to the initial call about the incident as reports of what happened at the parade. they came quickly after.
The suspect was on the run
Authorities indicate Brooks was fleeing the initial incident, according to multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the findings of the preliminary investigation. There was no police chase of Brooks prior to the parade, police said.
Police had barricades near the parade, and Brooks broke through them when a police officer tried to stop him, Thompson said.
A Waukesha police officer opened fire to try to stop the vehicle after it struck pedestrians, and the officer’s shots missed any bystanders, the chief said. Thompson added that he does not believe that shots were fired from the vehicle and said the incident was not a terrorist event.
The truck was identified shortly after, according to Thompson, and Brooks was later taken into custody.
The suspect was released on bail
Brooks had been released on $ 1,000 bail earlier this month, according to court records and the Milwaukee County prosecutor’s office, which said in a statement Monday that bail had been set “inappropriately low.”
Brooks posted bail on November 11 in connection with charges that included domestic abuse. That incident also involved Brooks being accused of using a car to cause injury, according to a criminal complaint.
On November 2, according to the complaint, Brooks ran over a woman while walking through a gas station parking lot. “The officers observed tire tracks on the left leg of his pants,” the criminal complaint states.
Prosecutors filed five charges related to the incident including obstructing a police officer, recklessly endangering safety in the second degree with assessments of domestic abuse, disorderly conduct with assessments of domestic abuse, and misdemeanor assault with assessments of domestic abuse.
Accused of skipping bail
Brooks was also charged with skipping bail, because he was already out on bail following an incident on July 24, 2020 in which he was charged with two counts of recklessness in the second degree that compromised safety with the use of a dangerous weapon, and one count of possession of a firearm by a criminal, according to court documents.
In a statement, the Milwaukee prosecution said it should not have recommended such a low bail for Brooks and has launched an internal review of the decision.
“The State’s bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks,” the prosecution said. “The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s approach to violent crime matters, nor was it consistent with the defendant’s risk assessment prior to setting bail.”
Trends Wide has reached out to Brooks’s attorney since the 2020 incident and early November 2021 about DA’s statement, but has yet to receive a response.
Suspect has a warrant for his arrest in Nevada
Brooks also has an outstanding Nevada warrant in an unrelated case for which he was arrested and bail was hit, authorities said. Trends Wide has reached out to a previous attorney for Brooks with no response.
Nevada authorities issued an active warrant against Brooks on August 15, 2016 for skipping bail, according to Sarah Johns, a spokeswoman for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Johns said detectives later determined that Brooks was in Wisconsin. “However, detectives had no viable intelligence on Brooks’s exact location.”
Victims still receive treatment in hospitals
Many of the victims injured in the incident were taken to area hospitals, and some were still being treated as of Monday night.
Eighteen minors, ages 3 to 16, were transported to Children’s Wisconsin Hospital, according to Dr. Amy Drendel, director of the hospital’s emergency department and trauma center.
“The injuries ranged from facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries. Six of these patients were sent to the operating room last night and two more patients are undergoing surgery today,” Drendel said at a news conference Monday.
The hospital received patients transported from nearby hospitals with varying levels of injury, Drendel said, “some conscious and some unconscious.” The vast majority of patients arrived by ambulance after being evaluated at other facilities, where it was determined that they required a higher level of care.
Two children have been discharged
Two children were released from the hospital on Monday, according to Dr. Michael Meyer, medical director of the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit.
Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee received seven patients from the parade, according to hospital spokeswoman Nalissa Wienke, and their status has not been disclosed. Froedtert is the only Level I trauma center in southeastern Wisconsin, generally used to provide care for the most seriously ill patients.
Four people were admitted to ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Three have been discharged and one remains in stable condition as of Monday night, the hospital said in a statement.
Trends Wide’s Paul P. Murphy, Raja Razek, Dave Alsup, Holly Yan, Amir Vera, Joe Sutton, Keith Allen, Shimon Prokupecz, and Evan Perez contributed to this report.