On November 21, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks Jr. drove a red Ford SUV, plowing through a crowd on Christmas parade just after he was released on bail for running over the mother of his child.
The sports car was confirmed to have killed five people, with 48 others injured after the incident. By November 23, the number of fatalities had increased to six with the death of an 8-year-old with 62 wounded.
On November 19, the Milwaukee District Attorney's Office released the convicted felon, Darrell Brooks, on a $1,000 bond after he tried to run over his ex-girlfriend. Shamefaced, they admitted that it was "inappropriate" to have released him on such a low bond.
For the incident at the Waukesha Christmas Parade, he has been charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
Brooks was taken into custody in Waukesha, Wisconsin after the police found his red car parked in a driveway five blocks away from where he plowed through the crowd of young kids and adults singing and dancing at the parade.
The Rapper's Long Criminal History
Since 1999, the amateur rapper has been arrested more than 15 times in Wisconsin alone. He has been charged with battery, strangulation and suffocation, possession of drugs, illegal possession of firearms, and resisting arrest.
He was held in custody between July 2020 and February 2021, awaiting trial, after he had shot his nephew in a fight over an old cell phone. He was given a $7,500 bond which was later dropped to $500 because the court delayed getting him a trial.
On November 2, 2021, he was arrested on domestic violence charges after he tried to run over the mother of his child at a gas station.
He had traced her to a hotel, followed her, and tried to run her over when she refused to get in his car forcefully.
There were copies of his arrest warrant that show that Brooks had followed his ex to a gas station, punched her "with a closed fist" before running "her over."
He was arrested for bail jumping, failing to meet the terms of prior sets of bail and probation requirements, in addition to four other counts.
Court records show that he was charged on November 5 and paid the cash bond on November 11, but the records were updated on November 19.
The same car he had used to run over his baby mama was on the streets again immediately after his bail and aided even more crimes barely two days later.
Milwaukee Christmas Parade Murders
On Sunday, November 21, he fled a scene of domestic dispute when he crashed through the celebrating crowd. He breezed past cops as he broke through set safety barriers.
One officer who tried shooting at his car to stop him had to stop to avoid casualties because there were too many people around.
Brooks killed five adults, including 52-year-old City Bank employee Jane Kulich, Dancing Grannies Virginia Sorenson, 79, Tamara Durand, 52, and Leanna Owens, 71, and the 82-year-old husband of one of the grannies, Wilhelm Hospel.
The Waukesha Police Department, at first, arrested him on five counts of murder which has now increased to six.
The Monday following the incident, the Milwaukee County DA's office released a statement in which they admitted that given the criminal's history, the bond of $1,000 was "inappropriately low."
They also said they had launched an internal review to determine why such a criminal was let out on bond to commit more crimes.
John Chisholm, Milwaukee's County Attorney, is an enthusiastic bail reform advocate who is quite soft on such matters. He had previously spoken about reducing his county's prison population.
In a quest to do this, he had invited a progressive criminal justice non-profit organization called Vera to perform an audit on his office.
The New York-based organization, Vera, opposes cash bail. The cash-bail measure has been partially blamed for the increase in crime in New York City.
Between 2019 and 2020, Milwaukee saw a 95 percent increase in murders, and 2021 has recorded as many homicides as there were in 2020.
At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson described the incident as "not a terrorist event," yet the scene was "like a warzone," says Fire Chief Steve Howard.
"It was just, for lack of a better word, carnage. There were adults, children injured. Some of our first responders were there with their families and they left their families to help treat people. People with military background likened it to a warzone."
The Christmas parade had barely started at 4 p.m. when the incident happened. At 4:39 p.m., Brook's red SUV is seen being chased by a cop. Speeding off, he narrowly misses a young girl dancing beside the road but hits a marching band ahead, injuring many.
He also proceeds to hit a group of girls carrying pompoms, breaks through set barriers, and speeds away.
Later, the police find his car parked a few blocks away. Brooks was detained and taken into custody, but no apparent information on where he was apprehended.
Brook's Crimes Outside Wisconsin
In Nevada, Brooks was also listed as a sex offender for having sex with a minor.
In a video of him on social media, he explains that the victim is the mother of his oldest daughter and that he "didn't know" she was 16 when they had sex.
On the Waukesha Parade murders, one witness, a father to one of the girls in the dance troupe struck by the car, says that he made eye contact with Brooks, who appeared "calm and composed."
When DailyMail visited Brook's home, 20 miles away, the man who answered the door refused to make any comments. He said:
"If you're trying to get some information I can't talk to you. I know what this is related to but we're not going to talk to you."
"Most people on this street have lived here 40 or 50 years. But we're dying off now. "
'Young punks are moving in here, anyone with a bit of money. But they don't want to know us and we don't want to know them. I've had no dealings with them at all, but I have seen that red SUV parked outside."
The police have yet to confirm if Brook's action was a deliberate act of terror or if his car lost control while fleeing a prior knife crime scene.
Waukesha Police Chief, Daniel Thompson, says no motive has been established, but they are not discounting terrorism.
The police have also refused to comment on whether the incident has anything to do with the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict in Kenosha, just 50 miles away.
Social Media Takes
Social media profiles described Brooks as a rapper who "turned to the streets at a very young age" and that he grew up in a "dangerous West Side Neighborhood of Washington Park."
Online, he is identified as a rapper named MathBoi Fly. He described himself in one of such profiles as "the best underground artist in his city."
These social media profiles have been taken down since this most recent incident.
The Saturday before the incident, he had posted about the Kyle Rittenhouse incident, saying that he was "not surprised" by the verdict. Whether Rittenhouse's acquittal has anything to do with the Waukesha murders is unclear.
Footage Of The Incident
Cameras intended to capture the joyous occasion ended up catching the carnage instead. They revealed that the car had at least traveled three blocks through the parade route before breaking through the barriers and speeding away.
Witnesses say that the car sped down the route and did not stop even when it hit the schoolgirls' dance troupe and members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and families sitting by the roadside.
Much later, a picture captured at an unknown location showed the vehicle in question, looking dented and bent up, packed in a driveway.
Distraught parents can be seen searching for their children. One Waukesha school district board member named Corey Montiho told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter's dance team, made up of girls aged nine to fifteen, were hit by the SUV.
"There were pompoms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere."
"I saw bodies flying, I ran down the parade route to find my girls. Addison, my daughter, heard someone yell 'car' and ran away."
"The girls right next to her were hit. I was there. It was little kids and families... evil is real, fight it every chance you get."
He was the one who had told The Washington Post that Brooks appeared "calm and composed" as he plowed through the crowds. That makes it sound like Brooks very well knew what he was doing.
Others described a shocking moment of silence before the shock gave way to screams of terror. Parents can be seen calling for their children after the incident.
It became chaotic as people ran to their loved ones or the wounded around them.
Some at the parade thought the red SUV was part of the procession until they saw it running over people.
In the wake of the incident, the fire department head said that 11 adults and 12 children were quickly rushed to six different hospitals. According to reports, they included a priest, several elderly women members of the Dancing Grannies group, and schoolgirls from the dance team.
On its Facebook page, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies posted that "members of the group and volunteers were impacted," and they were "waiting for word on their conditions."
This group of grannies meets once a week to practice summer and winter parades' routines. Who knew that one of such parades would lead to the death of close friends and family members.
According to reports, Children's Wisconsin, a Milwaukee pediatric hospital, treated 15 patients.
Aurora Medical Center-Summit, another hospital in Waukesha County, told CNN that it treated 13 patients. Three were in critical condition, four were in serious condition, and six were fair.
Passersby had a lot to say as well. Jordan Woynilko happened to be stepping out of a pub in the parade route when he stumbled upon the gory scene.
"There were moms and dads yelling for their kids, people running around. When I re-watched the video, I could hear people talking and they were like 'There's eight people injured down there. We need an ambulance over here'. There's one lady kneeling on the ground crying."
19-year-old Brayden Kowalski, who was at the parade with his family and saw the SUV race through the crowd, said:
"He's just blowing through people, bodies flying everywhere. These people didn't get run over, they got f***ing thrown through the air. Like a lot of people got tossed up into the air."
Although the car had narrowly missed a young girl dancing in the streets, witnesses report that other small kids were on the streets after the runaway SUV ran them over.
Angelito Tenorio, who is running for Wisconsin state treasurer, was at the parade with his family when the SUV sped in. He told the MilwaukeeJournalSentinel:
"We heard a loud bang and just deafening cries and screams from people who are struck by the vehicle. And then, and then we saw people running away and [stop] crying, and there, there are people on the ground who looked like they'd been hit by the vehicle... It just happened so fast. It was pretty terrifying."
Tenorio said he saw about ten children and adults who appeared to have been hit by the car.
Kaylee Staral, an intern at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Newspaper, spoke with CNN and The New York Times. She was at the parade with her mother and stepfather and, like many others, described the incident similar to that of previous eyewitnesses.
She and her family had been standing at the curb outside a store when the car ran through the crowd.
"There were a lot of screams. We thought maybe it was Santa, but it was a red SUV, and it hit a lot of people."
She clarified that moments later, she noticed 20 people on the ground. She also said that while it was unclear if the driver was saying anything as he drove through the crowd, he "was going very fast, and it was in the middle of the parade."
Brooks' intentions remain unclear since, as Staral said, he could not have "somehow missed that there was a parade going on."
Another witness tweeted:
"Right in front of my family, this man drives through the parade hitting as many people as possible while shooting out the window." It is possible that the gunshots heard were from the police officers on Brooks' tail."
"He ran over several elderly women who were dancing in the parade and many others. Please pray for everyone in Waukesha. Waukesha has some of the nicest families and people in this country. This parade is one of the most heartwarming events of the year. This is not America my little cousins, parents, aunts, uncles, ANYBODY deserves."
Some residents in apartments overlooking the parade route also witnessed the incident. One of them was Angela O'Boyle, who told CNN:
"The next thing I heard were screams and turned my head and saw the car come and plow into the band that was just past my balcony at that point. It hit at least two people right away and rolled over them. And then continued down the road to People's Park, which is at the end of the block - and then kept going. it didn't stop."
She added that people screamed, and she saw parents yelling out their children's names. "It wasn't something" she "wanted to see."
A reporter from Fox6 TV tweeted from the scene. He wrote:
"The Waukesha County Sheriff's Office incident command post is on site. There are bag chairs and handfuls of candy stranded all along Main Street. Another man told us he heard a handful of shots and ran for cover. He was almost hit by the SUV as it pulled through."
White House Takes
A White House official said that aides had briefed President Joe Biden on the incident and that the White House was closely monitoring the situation in Waukesha.
The official said:
"The White House is closely monitoring the situation Waukesha and our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible incident. We have reached out to state and local officials to offer any support and assistance as needed."
The President described the incident as a "horrific act of violence."
That Sunday, at around 7:15 p.m., the Police Department sent a push notification to cell phones of residents in the area, asking them to shelter in place.
Police Chief Dan Thompson told reporters that the incident had taken place 39 minutes after the parade started at 4:39 p.m. He also said that they had "a person of interest" they "were looking into" at the time.
Casualties From Gun Shot
There were no casualties from the gunshots by the officer who had been running after the car just before it crashed through the crowd.
"The Waukesha parade was taking place when a red SUV drove through the barricades westbound heading down Main Street... an officer did discharge his weapon at the suspect vehicle to try to stop the vehicle."
"No bystanders were injured as a result of the weapon discharge. The officer involved has been with the department for six-and-a-half-years."
One of the state's top law enforcement officers, Attorney General Josh Kaul, tweeted:
"What took place in Waukesha today is sickening, and I have every confidence that those responsible will be brought to justice."
Chris Germain, the co-owner of Aspire Dance Studio, had 70 girls in the parade between the ages of 2 and 18. His three-year-old daughter was part of the parade, and he had been driving at the head of their entry when the SUV "blazed right past" them.
He said he jumped out of his own SUV and rushed to gather the girls who were with him.
"There were small children laying all over the road, there were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on multiple members of the parade."
Members of the church were also among those injured. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee released a statement that confirmed that parishioners, both adults, and children, were involved.
The archdiocese confirmed that one of its priests was injured and that some of the children wounded attended Waukesha Catholic School.
Sandra Peterson, the communication director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, wrote:
"Our prayers are with the people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha. Among the injured are one of our Catholic priests, as well as multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic school children.
Please join us in prayer for all those involved, their families, and those who are traumatized from witnessing the horrible scene."
The School District of Waukesha also canceled school on the following day, November 22, for students in grades 4K - 12.
The email they sent read:
"As a result of this situation, school will be canceled on Monday, November 22, 2021, for all students in grades 4K -12. Additionally, the District will have additional counselors available during the school day at all buildings for all students that may be in need of support services."
"Our thoughts are with everyone impacted, with all who witnessed the event, and with our entire community."
This attack has "triggered a backlash against bail reforms." Although courts want to reduce jail crowding amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to minimize the risk of infection, it should not be at the cost of the innocent lives of the public.
Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, who was at the event, said:
"This is an unspeakable tragedy affecting us all as we work to overcome an extremely challenging two years and resume our cherished holiday traditions. "
"Keep the families affected in your thoughts as we work to offer whatever support we can. I have been in contact with Mayor Reilly and offered any resources the county could provide."
"I have also spoken with the Governor who offers his prayers and assistance. Right now, we are still learning about what happened. "
"Please pray for our community tonight after the horrific events at the Waukesha Christmas parade."
The Green Bay Packers football team also released a statement.
Senator Ron Johnson expressed his condolences in a tweet that read:
"My thoughts and prayers for everyone injured in Waukesha's Christmas parade. My gratitude for all law enforcement, medical personnel, and community members who are responding"
Just as Wisconsin looks to heal from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, this tragedy hits Waukesha.
Our sincere condolences to all affected by this horrific incident.