WARNING — GRAPHIC CONTENT: At least five people are dead and 40 have been injured, many of them children, after a car ploughed into a Christmas parade in the US state of Wisconsin.
Videos shared on social media show a red SUV speeding towards people marching in the parade in the city of Waukesha before driving off around 4.40pm on Sunday, local time.
Officials from the city of Waukesha confirmed the toll late on Sunday, while noting that it was still collecting information.
A "person of interest" was in custody, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said, but he gave no details about the person or any possible motive.
"What took place in Waukesha today is sickening, and I have every confidence that those responsible will be brought to justice," Attorney General Josh Kaul, the state's top law enforcement officer, tweeted.
Several videos shared online from various angles show the driver driving through police barricades that had been set up before ploughing into the holiday parade.
Videos taken from the crowd show the parade in full swing before the carnage, with a marching band and dancers waving pom poms as eager onlookers lined both sides of the street.
In one horrific video taken from a high-rise building, the SUV can be seen accelerating through the parade. Another clip filmed by a woman on the of the street shows the moment the car ploughs into the dancers.
"Oh my God! Oh my God!" the woman screams as the car flies past. Other attendees rush to help the victims.
The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, who were also taking part in the parade, posted that "members of the group and volunteers were impacted and we are waiting for word on their conditions."
A Catholic priest, multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren were among those injured, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee spokeswoman Sandra Peterson said.
Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Centre studio, had about 70 people in the parade ranging from as young as 2 being pulled in wagons to age 18. Germain, whose own 3-year-old daughter was in the parade, said he was driving at the head of their entry when he saw a maroon SUV that "just blazed right past us." A police officer ran past in chase. Germain said he jumped out of his own SUV and gathered the girls who were with him to safety.
🚨 #BREAKING #BREAKING
seen escaping the Christmas parade in #Wisconsin
Police officers fired shots towards the red Ford.
The driver in Waukesha allegedly ran over multiple elderly women while shooting. pic.twitter.com/HjarJ7PcjU
— News flash (@BRNewsFlash) November 21, 2021
Then he walked forward to see the damage.
"There were small children laying all over the road, there were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on multiple members of the parade," he said.
The Waukesha school district cancelled Monday classes and said extra counsellors would be on hand for students and staff.
Chief Thompson said a police officer discharged his weapon at the suspect's vehicle to try to stop it.
"No bystanders were injured by a result of the weapon discharge," he confirmed.
"It's an ongoing investigation," Chief Thompson told reporters.
"There [are] no other threats involved."
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