Crime Waukesha parade crash suspect's bail raises questions
At least 20 people injured after SUV slammed into Wisconsin Christmas parade, authorities say
An SUV sped into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, leaving at least 20 people injured, authorities said Sunday. Your browser does not support this video Police in Waukesha, located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, were urging people to avoid the downtown area. Mayor Shawn Reilly told WITI in Milwaukee that he does not believe there is any current danger to the public. Videos posted to social media, including a live feed of the parade operated by the City of Waukesha, show a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place.
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — The suspect in a Christmas parade crash in suburban Milwaukee that killed five people was free on $1,000 bail posted just two days before the deadly event, a fact that is leading to a review of what happened and renewed calls for giving judges more power to set higher bails.
One pending case against Darrell Brooks Jr. included an allegation that he deliberately hit a woman with his car in early November after a fight. Prosecutors in Milwaukee County on Monday called their bail recommendation “inappropriately low” given the facts of that case and the Sunday crash, and said they would review it.
Joy turns to horror as SUV speeds into Christmas parade
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms turned deadly in an instant, as an SUV sped through a barricade and into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee while spectators watched in horror. One video showed a woman screaming, “Oh my God!” repeatedly as a group of young dancers was struck Sunday. A father talked of going “from one crumpled body to the other” in search of his daughter. Members of a “Dancing Grannies” club were among those hit. © Provided by Associated Press A police officer uses a flashlight while looking for evidence in downtown Waukesha, Wis.
Julius Kim, a defense attorney and former assistant prosecutor, said the bail could easily have been set more than twice as high.
“He was accused of running over the mother of his kid, and to put it at $1,000 strikes me as low,” Kim said. “It could have been an inexperienced attorney who happened to be reviewing cases that day.”
Police said Brooks, 39, was behind the wheel of the SUV that sped through the parade route in Waukesha on Sunday,. Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks was leaving the scene of a domestic dispute that had taken place just minutes earlier.
What we know about what happened at the Wisconsin Christmas parade
The celebratory sounds of a Wisconsin Christmas parade were interrupted by terrified screams Sunday after a vehicle plowed into participants and spectators gathered for the event in Waukesha, a city about 20 miles west of downtown Milwaukee. © Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel/AP Police investigate at the scene of a crash involving multiple people and injuries at a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wis., on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP) At least five people were killed and more than 40 were injured in the chaos, city officials said.
Brooks has been charged with crimes 16 times since 1999 and had two outstanding cases against him at the time of the parade disaster. That included resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangering, disorderly conduct, bail jumping and battery for the Nov. 2 incident.
Thompson said police were going to recommend he face five charges of first degree intentional homicide, which is punishable by life in prison.
Legal experts cautioned that one extreme case should not be reason to push for higher bail amounts that would keep poorer defendants behind bars longer while they await trial.
“We don’t want to have a kneejerk reaction here and say ’Let’s lock up a lot of people pretrial,” said John Gross, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School and also director of its Public Defender Project.
Wisconsin Christmas parade live updates: 81-year-old, 79-year-old among the 5 killed
Five people were killed and more than 40 others injured when a car plowed into a Christmas parade in Wisconsin.The suspect, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks, is in custody, authorities said.
“I’m sure the district attorney’s office is going to look back at this and ask themselves, ‘Did we get this wrong?’ said Gross, the law school professor. “This is such an extreme incident ... could they reasonably expect he would get behind a vehicle and run people down on a parade route? What would have alerted you to the capacity he would have had for this kind of violence?”
Some Republicans were quick to jump on the case as an example of a broken legal system.
Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, a former Wisconsin lieutenant governor who is running for governor in 2022, called the killings “yet another avoidable tragedy that occurred because a violent career criminal was allowed to walk free and terrorize our community.”
And Republican state Rep. Cindi Duchow said she was reintroducing a constitutional amendment that would change the bail process in Wisconsin to allow judges to consider a defendant’s danger to the community when setting bail. Judges currently are only allowed to consider the possibility that defendants might not show up for a court appearance when setting bail.
Driver to face homicide charges for deaths at Wisconsin Christmas parade
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“He tried to run over his girlfriend with his car -- that’s attempted murder,” Duchow said. “If you’re a danger to society, you should have to work hard to get out.”
Thompson, the police chief, said that there was no evidence the bloodshed Sunday was a terrorist attack or that Brooks knew anyone in the parade. Brooks acted alone, the chief said.
Brooks had left the site of the domestic disturbance before officers arrived, and was not being chased by police at the time of the crash, according to the chief, who gave no further details on the dispute.
Brooks is an aspiring rapper. On a YouTube page, a video that has since been removed showed him rapping in front of a red Ford SUV resembling the one at the parade. The rapper uses the name MathBoi Fly on his Twitter and other social media accounts.
'Mama, are you OK?' In Waukesha, minutes of terror recounted
Hours before it started, they were already there — people sitting on lawn chairs or wrapped in blankets, awaiting an event the city's mayor described as straight out of Norman Rockwell. The Waukesha Christmas Parade, a tradition in its Milwaukee suburb for six decades, was to be particularly special this time around after its pandemic-related cancellation last year. Stepping off a few blocks to the east, parade participants were in the holiday spirit, too. Members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a crowd favorite on the Wisconsin parade circuit, donned white fur hats and waved white pompoms as they danced down Main Street to “Jingle Bell Rock.
On Sunday, a joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms gave way in an instant to screams and the sight of crumpled bodies as the SUV sped through barricades and struck dancers, musicians and others in the community of 72,000.
Police identified those killed as Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81. Sorenson, Owen and Durand were members the Dancing Grannies club, and Hospel helped out with the group.
“It looked like dummies being thrown in the air,” said Nicole Schneiter, who was there with her children and grandchildren. “It took a second to register, like, ‘Is that what we really just saw?’ And then you looked in the road and there were just people laying in the road.”
At least nine patients, most of them children, were in critical condition Monday at two hospitals, and seven others were reported in serious condition.
Experts Think Plea Deal Possible For Man Who Killed 6 When Driving SUV Into Waukesha Parade
Darrell Brooks Jr. is charged five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, a total expected to increase to six after another victim died Tuesday. More charges are likely to come, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said. The most recent victim was 8-year-old Jackson Sparks. The other five, ranging in age from 52 to 81, were pronounced deceased just hours after the incident. As of Wednesday, at least 16 people are still in the hospital being treated, representatives from area hospitals said.
Hundreds gathered at a downtown park Monday night in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for a candlelight vigil in honor of those lost and hurt in a deadly Christmas parade crash a day earlier. A pair of clergy solemnly read the names of those who died. Volunteers handed out sandwiches, hot chocolate, and candles at the vigil, which was attended by interfaith leaders and elected officials.
“We are parents. We are neighbors. We are hurting. We are angry. We are sad. We are confused. We are thankful. We are all in this together. We are Waukesha Strong,” said a tearful Amanda Medina Roddy with the Waukesha school district.
The chief said that police weren't pursuing Brooks before he entered the parade route, but n officer did fire a shot to try to stop him. The officer stopped firing because of the danger to others. Brooks was not injured.
Mayor Shawn Reilly described the parade as a “Norman Rockwell-type” event that “became a nightmare.”
Bauer reported from Madison, Wis., and Condon reported from New York. Associated Press writers Kathleen Foody in Chicago, Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan and Michael Biesecker in Washington contributed.
6th Intentional Homicide Charge Added For Driver Who Crashed Into Wisconsin Christmas Parade .
The sixth charge is for victim Jackson Sparks, an 8-year-old boy who was walking in the parade with his 12-year-old brother Tucker, who was also injured.The sixth charge is for victim Jackson Sparks, an 8-year-old boy who was walking in the parade with his 12-year-old brother Tucker, who was also injured in the crash, The Associated Press reported. If convicted, each charge has a life sentence.