WAUKESHA, Wis. — It was supposed to be a celebratory night in Waukesha, Wis. Dance groups and high school bands and politicians were marching along Main Street in the Milwaukee suburb’s Christmas parade, which was returning from a pandemic hiatus.
Then, just before 4:40 p.m., the driver of a red S.U.V. stormed past barricades and barreled through the crowd, striking dozens.
At least five people were killed and more than 40 people were injured, and the numbers could change, city authorities said in a statement late Sunday.
Area hospitals reported treating dozens of patients, including many children. It was unclear what might have motivated the episode.
SUV Christmas parade Accident Photos
“Today our community faced horror and tragedy in what should have been a community celebration,” said Mayor Shawn Reilly, who described seeing smiling children and happy parents when he marched along the parade route before the incident. “I’m deeply saddened to know that so many in our community went to a parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache.”
hief Daniel Thompson of the Waukesha Police Department said on Sunday night that a person of interest was in custody and that there was no further threat. Eyewitnesses described the driver as male, but that was not confirmed by the police. Chief Thompson said shots were fired by the police at the driver.
A spokesman for Children’s Wisconsin said that hospital, which treats only pediatric patients, had admitted 15 people on Sunday. Details about their conditions were not immediately available. Another hospital, Aurora Medical Center–Summit, said in a statement that it was treating 13 patients, including three in critical condition. Officials at Froedtert Hospital said they also had received patients but did not specify how many.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson earlier told reporters that a person of interest was in custody and a vehicle had been recovered after the incident in the town of 72,000 that lies about 32km (20 miles) west of Milwaukee.
It was not known whether the incident was deliberate but there was no further danger and an earlier shelter-in-place order had been lifted, Thompson said.
Thompson said an officer fired shots at the vehicle in an attempt to stop the carnage.
A video on social media appeared to show police firing on the vehicle as it crashed through street barriers. Police did not believe shots had been fired from the vehicle, Thompson added, contrary to earlier reports.