The driver of the SUV that rampaged through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin – killing five and injuring 48 – has been identified by police as Darrell Brooks Jr. He’s been charged with five counts of murder. Additional charges are pending.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks, 39-years-old, had been involved in a domestic disturbance earlier in the day. But Thompson added that a police chase did not precipitate the violent collision with the parade.
Brooks was out on bail following an arrest earlier this month that also involved using a vehicle as a weapon. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
…a woman told police Brooks purposefully ran her “over with his vehicle” while she was walking through a gas station parking lot after he had followed her there after a fight, according to the criminal complaint. The woman was hospitalized for her injuries, court records show.
The New York Times reports that the injured woman was the mother of Brooks’ child and the car used in the incident was the same used in Sunday’s rampage.
Brooks posted a $1,000 bond on November 11th, allowing him to forgo incarceration while the charges were pending. On Monday, the the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement that the bail number was “inappropriately low.”
More from The Journal Sentinel:
The bail also was not consistent with the office’s approach to cases “involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail,” the statement read.
“This office is currently conducting an internal review of the decision to make the recent bail recommendation in this matter in order to determine the appropriate next steps.”
Brooks had been charged with recklessly endangering the safety of others multiple times. CBS News Chicago reports that Brooks has at least three convictions for violent behavior, not counting the pending charges.
The Associated Press describes Sunday’s chaos:
“It was like a war scene walking through there,” said Ken Walter, who had been riding in the parade in a hot air balloon basket along with his wife and youngest son. “There were these piles of blankets with cops standing over them that you just knew were bodies.”
Walter said he saw a red SUV careen into view and watched it hit a member of his real estate-agency parade contingent, then barrel straight into members of the Waukesha South High School marching band.
The SUV continued down the parade route. Behind it, people were screaming, running, searching for family and friends and unsure whether they were still in danger, he recalled.
The Times adds:
Area hospitals reported treating dozens of patients, including many children. It was unclear what might have motivated the episode.
“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 earlier on Sunday. “I’m deeply saddened to know that so many in our community went to a parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache.”
The ages of the five deceased victims ranged from 52 to 81.