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What we know about the Waukesha Christmas parade incident


Authorities in Waukesha, Wis., have charged a suspect with homicide. They say he intentionally drove his SUV into a Christmas parade yesterday afternoon after he was involved in a domestic disturbance. The attack on the parade site killed five people and injured more than 40. NPR's Cheryl Corley joins us from Waukesha. Hi, Cheryl.


SHAPIRO: Local officials held a news conference this afternoon. What did they say there?

CORLEY: Well, Police Chief Daniel Thompson began by recapping, really, what happened Sunday. He said that there was this really joyful scene - a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee with marching bands, a group of dancers which included children as young as 2, a group called the Dancing Grannies club. You know, the mayor of Waukesha called it a Norman Rockwell-type Christmas parade that's been around for decades.

And police say that was the scene that was interrupted by the man authorities have now identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks. He's a resident of Milwaukee. Police say he drove his SUV into that parade after he had apparently been involved in some type of domestic dispute. And the chief said that police were quick to act. Here's what he said.


DANIEL THOMPSON: The suspect was taken into custody a short distance from the scene, and we are confident he acted alone. There is no evidence that this is a terrorist incident.

CORLEY: And Mr. Brooks has been charged with five counts of intentional homicide, and the chief says there are possibly more charges to come.

SHAPIRO: And what more can you tell us about the victims?

CORLEY: Well, the chief read off the names of the victims in a very emotional moment for him. There were five fatalities - four women who ranged in age from 52 to 79 and an 81-year-old man. There were 48 more individuals who were injured, including two children who are in critical condition. And that's what we know at this time.

SHAPIRO: Any more details on that domestic incident that apparently came shortly before the attack on the parade?

CORLEY: Well, the chief was very adamant about not providing any more details about Darrell Brooks. Here's what he said about that.


THOMPSON: What we do not want to do is jeopardize the integrity of this investigation at any point. Right now, our focus, the Waukesha Police Department's focus, the city of Waukesha's focus is the families, the victim, and due process.

CORLEY: Of course referring to the five counts that Brooks faces now, with more to come. You know, court records we examined show that Darrell Brooks was charged earlier this month with three misdemeanors, including resisting or obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct among those charges. He also was charged with two felonies. One of those two felonies was a bail jumping charge, the other a second-degree charge of recklessly endangering safety. Now, Brooks did appear at a hearing for those charges. He posted bond last Friday. And then Sunday, a couple of days later, the incident and the calamity occurred.

SHAPIRO: You are there in Waukesha. What is the community response in the last day?

CORLEY: Well, you know, Ari, this is a community that's really grieving and in shock. The schools have been closed, and authorities said today that they will remain closed until after the Thanksgiving holiday. School officials said counselors were also available for all students and that that would continue. Flags have been flown at half-mast - half-staff at buildings around the state by the order of the governor. You know, roads in the area had been shut down, and businesses where the incident took place were also closed. City officials say, you know, they're requesting any items for a temporary memorial. They held a prayer service yesterday and will hold a community prayer service again today.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Cheryl Corley in Waukesha, Wis. Thank you.

CORLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.