The man accused of barreling a maroon SUV into celebratory crowds at a Wisconsin Christmas parade on Sunday, killing at least five people, will be hit with five counts of first-degree homicide, according to police.
Darrell Brooks, 39, was taken into custody by police Sunday after the deadly crash in Waukesha, but has not yet been formally charged.
Before the horrifying weekend incident that was captured by the city’s livestream and onlookers’ cellphones, Brooks had been charged with a slew of other crimes, according to online jail records.
He was charged with reckless endangering and illegal possession of a firearm in July 2020, and earlier this month with resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless homicide, disorderly conduct, bail jumping and battery, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was released on a $1,000 bond just last Friday, two days before the crash.
In the most recent criminal charge, a woman told police that Brooks purposefully ran her “over with his vehicle” while she was crossing a gas station parking lot after the two fought, according to the criminal complaint obtained by the Sentinel.
The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office said Monday that the bail set for Brooks for the November charges was “inappropriately low.”
“The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office toward matters involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting the bail,” the DA’s office said in a statement.
Investigators are also looking into whether Brooks was fleeing from an earlier crime scene Sunday involving a knife fight.
Brooks may be a local Milwaukee rapper who goes by the name of Mathboi Fly, according to TMZ. A music video he previously filmed includes a red SUV similar to the one driven Sunday.
Four women and one man have been declared dead so far after the driver careened his car into the parade, sending marchers flying. The victims were identified as Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies said Monday morning that at least one of their members was killed.
“Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness. While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts,” the group of grandmas, ranging from their early 50s to mid-70s, said on Facebook.
“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed … joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue … held us together.”
A Catholic priest, multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic school children were among the 48 injured, according to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Two of the injured are children in critical condition. Seven other adult victims are listed in critical condition and another seven are listed in serious condition.
Few other details have been confirmed as investigators from local and federal law enforcement agencies work through the chaotic crime scene.
Police have not yet identified a motive. However, Waukesha police Chief Dan Thompson ruled out terrorism during a news conference Monday. Law enforcement is investigating a domestic disturbance Brooks is believed to have been fleeing from immediately prior to the crash.
The annual Christmas parade, held by the Chamber of Commerce every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, had a theme of “comfort and joy” this year.
“Waukesha will not be defined by the horrific events of last night,” Mayor Shawn Reilly said.
“The healing needs to begin now,” Reilly said before announcing a public vigil to be held later Monday.
“What we do today and in the days ahead will define us as a city,” he added.
During the news conference, the Waukesha school district announced classes would resume after Thanksgiving weekend.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was taking extra precautions for Thursday’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the wake of the Waukesha crash.
“It’s tragic and horrible what happened in Wisconsin, but the NYPD for years and years has planned for very careful security around the parade,” the mayor said at City Hall Monday. “It’s something we talk about the night before, give an update every year on what’s going on, but very meticulous efforts have been made to prepare.
The mayor added that there are no credible or specific threats against the city at the moment. “But we take it seriously and we’re in a high state of preparation for sure,” he said.
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