A car crashed into a crowd at a Christmas street parade in Wisconsin, USA. More than 40 people were injured and there were five dead, the local authorities said on Monday night (local time). According to the information, numerous children were among the victims: The fire brigade announced that eleven adults and twelve children had been taken to hospitals.
The incident occurred in Waukesha, a suburb of the city of Milwaukee. The Waukesha Christmas Parade took place in the small town on Sunday afternoon (local time).
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The background was initially unclear. Among other things, it was unclear whether the car was deliberately driven into the crowd. At a press conference on Sunday evening, the police expressly left open whether there could be a terrorist background.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said a red SUV broke barriers, drove onto the main street with the parade and rammed more than 20 people, including children. He spoke of a “tragic incident” and stressed at the same time that there was no further threat. A suspicious vehicle was found and a person was in custody. He was not more precise. Thompson emphasized that the investigation was ongoing.
An officer shot at the car to stop it, the police chief said. No passers-by were injured. According to previous knowledge, no shots were fired from the vehicle.
An eyewitness, who had also taken part in the parade, reported a car that “sped at full speed along the parade route”. “And then we heard loud bangs and deafening screams from people who were hit by the vehicle,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “And then we saw people running away or stopping crying, and there were people on the ground who looked like they’d been hit by the vehicle.”
The car “sped past us,” said Chris Germain, owner of a dance school whose students took part in the parade. He told a TV station about paramedics who were caring for injured people on the street, including children.
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Among the injured are students from the Catholic school in Waukesha and a priest, CNN reported, citing the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The local schools are said to remain closed on Monday.
Many families with children had attended the parade. On video clips that were initially not verifiable and spread on social media, chaotic and disturbing scenes could be seen: An off-road vehicle was filmed from various perspectives in various snapshots, which first raced past participants in the parade at high speed, at other points various people in rams and runs over the street and finally breaks through road barriers and rushes away. The video recordings show people screaming and running. In one scene the car barely races past a child dancing in the street.
The governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, expressed his dismay in a tweet and spoke of a “pointless act”. (dpa)