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Police: Suspect in Wisconsin parade crash was involved in 'domestic disturbance'

By Clyde Hughes & Rich Klein & Don Jacobson
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Police: Suspect in Wisconsin parade crash was involved in 'domestic disturbance'
Debris is seen at the crash scene after an SUV crashed into a holiday parade Sunday in Waukesha, Wis.  Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A 39-year-old man suspected of killing five and injuring at least 48 when he plowed his vehicle into a Wisconsin holiday parade was involved in a domestic dispute just before the incident, police said Monday.

The suspect was identified as Darrell E. Brooks, Waukesha, Wis., Police Chief Daniel Thompson told reporters in an update a day after Sunday's crash in which an SUV slammed into a crowd gathered for the city's annual Christmas parade.

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"We have information that the suspect prior to the incident was involved in a domestic disturbance, which was just minutes prior, and the suspect left that scene just prior to our arrival to that domestic disturbance," the chief said.

A police officer fired several shots at Brooks as he drove through the crowd but had to stop due to risk of injury to bystanders, he added.

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Police said Brooks faces five counts of first-degree intentional homicide along with possible additional charges, which could be added as the investigation progresses.

There was no indication the incident is connected to domestic or international terrorism, he said.

The five killed in the incident range in age from 52 to 81, including four women and one man, authorities said.

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Two of the injured children remained in critical condition.

Children's Wisconsin hospital in Milwaukee said 16 children ages 3 to 16 were being treated Monday for injuries including broken bones and serious head injuries. Eighteen were initially treated at the hospital, officials said in a statement. Two children have been released.

Officials said that City Hall would be closed on Monday, along with all schools in the Waukesha School District. Main Street in downtown Waukesha, where the crash occurred, was also still closed on Monday.

The city asked that all temporary memorials should be placed at a nearby park once everything reopens at or near the crash site. Authorities are also still asking witnesses to come forward with information.

City officials announced the creation of the "United for Waukesha Community Fund" and a counseling hotline to aid victims' families and survivors.

"The community mourns the loss of our community members and those injured," the city tweeted early Monday. "We are asking for the community to come together during this time and to keep the families in your prayers."

President Joe Biden offered condolences to the victims' families Monday at the White House during a news conference held to announce his nomination of Jerome Powell to a second term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

"Last night the people of Waukesha were gathered to celebrate the start of a season of hope and togetherness and Thanksgiving," he said. "This morning Jill and I and the entire Biden family and, I'm sure all of us, pray that that same spirit is going to embrace and lift up all the victims of this tragedy, bringing comfort to those recovering from the injuries and wrapping the families of those who died in support of their community."

The administration is "monitoring the situation very closely," he added.

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers ordered all flags statewide to be flown at half-staff and called on the communities to "pray for the Waukesha community and the kids, loved ones, and neighbors whose lives were forever changed by an unthinkable tragedy."

Additional statements of support poured in from around Wisconsin and the United States.

"The horrific violence at the Waukesha Christmas Parade is just heartbreaking," tweeted Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

"My thoughts and prayers for everyone injured in Waukesha's Christmas parade," tweeted Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. "My gratitude for all law enforcement, medical personnel, and community members who are responding."

"We are devastated and angry by the senseless and horrific act in Waukesha today and send our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones," the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with all of those who were impacted by the tragic events at the holiday parade in Waukesha," Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers tweeted.

"We must all come together to support each other in these difficult times," tweeted the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

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