What We Know and Don’t Know About the Wisconsin Parade Attack

The suspect’s motivations are unclear in a tragedy that left five people dead and dozens more injured during a Christmas parade in Waukesha.,

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WAUKESHA, Wis. — Five people died, and at least 48 others were injured, after the driver of an S.U.V. plowed through musicians, dancers and onlookers during a Christmas parade on Sunday in suburban Milwaukee.

Here’s what is known, and what is still unclear, about the tragedy in Waukesha, Wis.

The Waukesha police believe that Darrell E. Brooks, 39, drove a maroon Ford Escape through the Christmas parade. The city’s police chief, Daniel Thompson, said Mr. Brooks, who has a lengthy arrest record, was arrested near the parade route and is believed to have acted alone.

The police referred five counts of first-degree intentional homicide to prosecutors.

Chief Thompson said Mr. Brooks intentionally struck people with his car after fleeing a domestic dispute involving a knife at a nearby home. Police officers were responding to that home, though not pursuing Mr. Brooks, when he veered into the parade route, officials said.

The authorities did not say whether they believed that Mr. Brooks was trying to harm people as he drove through the parade or whether his goal was to elude the police. Chief Thompson said there was no indication that Mr. Brooks knew anyone marching in the parade, nor was there any sign that the incident was an act of terrorism.

The five people who died in the attack were adults over age 50, including three members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a group of women whose pompom routines have long been a staple of local holiday parades.

At least 18 children, who had turned out in large numbers to watch the parade and march in it, were among those hospitalized, including 10 in intensive care.

Mr. Brooks had been arrested repeatedly in Wisconsin since the 1990s, accused at different points of battery and domestic abuse and resisting the police. This month, prosecutors in Milwaukee said, he intentionally ran over a woman he knew with a maroon Ford Escape. Prosecutors in Milwaukee County said they had erred in recommending a $1,000 cash bail in that case.

Mayor Shawn Reilly described the march down Main Street as “a Norman Rockwell type of Christmas parade” that has been a cherished event in Waukesha for decades, with high school bands and dance troupes and local politicians all walking through town. Residents were especially excited for this year’s iteration after the parade was called off in 2020 because of Covid-19. More than 60 entries, from the Fire Department to the Waukesha Old Car Club to Santa Claus, had signed up for the parade.

“That parade became a nightmare,” Mr. Reilly said on Monday. “Lives were lost during the middle of what should have been a celebration.”

Chief Thompson said Mr. Brooks had been involved in a domestic dispute shortly before he drove through the parade. But the police did not respond to questions about exactly where that dispute took place, or why they believe that Mr. Brooks had come to Waukesha in the first place.

In court records, Mr. Brooks usually listed addresses in Milwaukee, about 20 miles east of Waukesha. It is expected that more information will be released on Tuesday afternoon, when Mr. Brooks is expected to make his initial appearance in court.

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