WAUKESHA, WIS. – An 8-year-old boy became the sixth person killed Tuesday by a man driving his SUV into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, with a criminal complaint alleging the suspect in the case was driving unruly with the intent of prominent marchers and spectators.
Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, was charged with five counts of willful first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted. He rocked back and forth in his seat and cried throughout Tuesday’s trial, as the charges against him were detailed. His bail is set at $5 million, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 14.
“The nature of this offense is shocking,” said Waukesha Court Commissioner Kevin Costello.
Additional charges related to the sixth death and more than 60 injuries will be filed later this week or next, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said. The criminal complaint said 62 people were injured, up from 48 previously reported by police.
Brooks allegedly sped away from police and entered the Waukesha Christmas parade on Sunday night, refusing to stop even as an officer banged on the hood of his SUV. Another officer fired three shots at the car, but it didn’t stop.
Five people between the ages of 52 and 81 were declared dead within hours. Jackson Sparks, 8, was the first of many injured children to die. He was walking in the parade with his brother Tucker, 12, who was injured in the crash and is being released from the hospital, according to his GoFundMe page.
“This afternoon, our dear Jackson was saddened by his injury and passing away,” the site’s organizer, Alyssa Albro, wrote.
City live streams and bystanders’ videos captured the chaos as an SUV sped along the parade route and into the crowd. Some of the injured are still in critical condition.
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses told police that the vehicle “appeared to be moving sideways intentionally” and did not attempt to slow down or stop because it hit several people and blew bodies away. and objects.
Brooks ignored multiple attempts to stop him, according to the criminal complaint.
One detective – wearing a police badge and neon orange protective vest – stepped in front of Brooks’ car and banged it on the hood, shouting “Stop,” several times but Brooks drove past him, according to police. petition.
A uniformed police officer who saw Brooks’ SUV heading towards the parade route also tried to get his attention and shouted “Stop, stop vehicle” several times but was ignored. ignored, according to the complaint. The officer “observed the driver looking straight ahead, directly at him, and he appeared to have no emotion on his face,” the complaint said.
Brooks braked hard at one point, but instead of turning his back on the parade route, he darted into the crowd and appeared to speed up quickly, the lawsuit said.
Another officer shot at the vehicle, striking it three times as it entered the parade route. Brooks wasn’t hit, Sheriff Waukesha said Monday.
According to the complaint, a witness who spoke to police said the SUV “continued to drive in a zigzag direction. It looked like the SUV was trying to avoid vehicles, not people. The vehicle made no effort to avoid the vehicle.” force stops, less goes much slower. down.”
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks was leaving the scene of an altercation that took place just minutes earlier when he drove onto the parade route.
He was released on $1,000 bail for a Milwaukee County case earlier in November, in which he was accused of intentionally assaulting a woman with his vehicle. Prosecutors said they were investigating their bail offer in that case, calling it an inappropriately low level.
Brooks has been charged more than a dozen times since 1999, mainly in Wisconsin but also in Georgia and Nevada, and there were two prominent cases against him at the time of the marching disaster. That includes resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, jumping bail and batteries for the November 2 incident.
Thompson said there was no evidence that Bloody Sunday was a terrorist attack or that Brooks knew anyone at the parade. Brooks acted alone, the sheriff said.
NBC News released video of the doorbell camera appearing to capture Brooks’ arrest. It shows Brooks, shivering in just a T-shirt, knocking on a homeowner’s door and asking for help calling a ride. Moments later, police surrounded the house and shouted, “Hands up!” Brooks, standing on the porch, raised his hand and said, “Whoa whoa!”
Hundreds of people gathered at a downtown park Monday night in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for a candlelit vigil in honor of those lost and wounded. A pair of missionaries solemnly read the names of the dead. Volunteers distributed sandwiches, hot chocolate and candles during the vigil, attended by interfaith leaders and elected officials.
“We’re parents. We’re neighbors. We’re hurt. We’re angry. We’re sad. We’re confused. We’re grateful. We’re all in this together. We’re all here. I am the Strong Waukesha,” a tearful Amanda Medina Roddy told the Waukesha School District.
Mayor Shawn Reilly described the parade as a “Norman Rockwell-style” event that had “become a nightmare.”
Bauer reports from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press journalist Doug Glass contributes from Minneapolis.