An 8-year-old boy became the sixth person to die Tuesday as a result of a man driving his truck in a Milwaukee suburban Christmas parade, with a criminal complaint alleging the suspect in the case went side-to-side. with the intention. of protesters and spectators on strike.
Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, was charged with five counts of first-degree manslaughter, a count that carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted. He rocked back and forth in his seat and cried throughout his court hearing Tuesday, his attorney’s arm behind his back, as the charges against him were detailed. His bail was set at $ 5 million and a preliminary hearing was 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 the more than 60 injured will come later this week or next, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said. The criminal complaint said 62 people were injured, up from 48 previously announced by police.
Brooks is accused of speeding away from police and entering the Waukesha Christmas parade Sunday night, refusing to stop even when an officer struck the hood of his SUV. Another officer fired three shots at the vehicle, but did not stop.
Five people between the ages of 52 and 81 were pronounced dead within hours. 8-year-old Jackson Sparks was the first of many injured children who died. He was walking in the parade with his 12-year-old brother Tucker, who was injured in the accident and was being released from the hospital, according to his GoFundMe page.
“This afternoon, our beloved Jackson sadly succumbed to his injuries and passed away,” wrote the page’s organizer, Alyssa Albro.
Live streaming video of the city and video of spectators captured the chaotic scene as an SUV sped along the parade route and then into the crowd. Several of the injured remain in critical condition.
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses told police that the vehicle “appeared to be intentionally moving from side to side,” without attempting to slow down or stop when it struck multiple people and sent bodies and objects flying.
Brooks ignored multiple attempts to arrest him, according to the criminal complaint.
A detective, wearing a police badge and a neon orange safety vest, stood in front of Brooks’s vehicle and hit the hood, yelling “Stop,” several times, but Brooks passed him, according to the complaint.
A uniformed police officer who saw Brooks’s truck traveling toward the parade route also tried to get his attention, yelling “Stop, stop the vehicle” several times, but was ignored, according to the complaint. The officer “observed that the driver was looking straight ahead, directly at him, and it seemed that he had no emotion on his face,” the complaint says.
Brooks came to a halt at one point, but instead of straying from the parade route, he turned toward the crowd and appeared to accelerate rapidly, according to the complaint.
Another police officer fired at the vehicle and hit it three times as it entered the parade route. Brooks was not hit by the bullets, the Waukesha Police Chief said Monday.
The complaint said a witness who spoke to police said the truck “continued to drive in a zigzag. It was as if the truck was trying to avoid vehicles, not people. The vehicle did not attempt to stop, let alone slow down. “
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks was leaving the scene of a domestic dispute that had taken place minutes earlier when he drove onto the parade route.
He had been released on a $ 1,000 bond for a case in Milwaukee County in early November in which he is accused of intentionally striking a woman with his car. Prosecutors said they are investigating his bail recommendation in that case, calling it inappropriately low.
Brooks has been charged with crimes more than a dozen times since 1999, mostly in Wisconsin, but also in Georgia and Nevada, and had two cases pending against him at the time of the parade disaster. That included resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, jumping on bail and assault in the Nov. 2 incident.
Thompson said there was no evidence that Sunday’s bloodshed was a terrorist attack or that Brooks knew anyone at the parade. Brooks acted alone, the chief said.
NBC News released doorbell camera footage that appeared to capture Brooks’s arrest. It showed Brooks, shaking in just a T-shirt, knocking on an owner’s door and asking for help asking for a ride. Moments later, the police surrounded the house and yelled, “Hands up!” Brooks, standing on the porch, raised his hands and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”
Hundreds of people gathered in a downtown park Monday night in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for a candlelight vigil honoring the lost and injured. A couple of clergymen solemnly read the names of the deceased. Volunteers handed out sandwiches, hot chocolate and candles at the vigil, which was attended by interfaith leaders and elected officials.
“We are parents. We’re neighbors. It hurts us. We are angry. We are sad. We are confused. We are grateful. We are all in this together. We are Waukesha Strong, ”Amanda Medina Roddy of the Waukesha School District said tearfully.
Mayor Shawn Reilly described the parade as a “Norman Rockwell-like” event that “turned into a nightmare.”