National News

Archdiocese of Milwaukee Offers Prayers for Victims of Christmas Parade Tragedy as ‘Person of Interest’ Identified

Chairs left abandoned are seen Nov. 22, 2021, after a car plowed through the Waukesha Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wis., at about 4:39 p.m. local time Nov. 21. (Photo: Cheney Orr, Reuters)

PROSPECT PARK — A “person of interest” has reportedly been identified following a tragedy on Sunday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that left five people dead and at least 40 injured when a car plowed into a Christmas parade.

Darrell Brooks, 39, was being questioned about the attack, according to NBC News, which cited law enforcement sources. The police had not publicly identified Brooks as of mid-day Monday.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee called for prayers in a statement.

“Our prayers are with people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha,” the archdiocesan statement said Sunday. “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 statement continued. 

Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson cautioned the victim count could rise. He also said a person of interest was in custody, although he did not provide a name, and that shots were fired at the red SUV by the police attempting to stop its rush through barricades and into the crowd of parade participants around 4:40 p.m. 

Brooks has a history of criminal activity, according to press reports. He was recently released on $1,000 bond on charges of resisting or obstructing an officer, recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct, bail jumping, and battery, online records show. 

Last July, he was also charged with reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a firearm, records show. 

This was the 58th Waukesha Christmas Parade. The annual event had returned, with a theme of “comfort and joy,” after it was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said at a news conference that he was “deeply saddened” by the “horrible, senseless tragedy” in which members of the community “went to the parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache.” 

He continued, “I walked in the parade at the beginning. I saw happy children sitting on the curb. I saw happy parents behind their children. I can still see the smiling faces.” 

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers posted on social media Monday that he had ordered the U.S. and Wisconsin flags to be flown at half-staff “as we continue to pray for the Waukesha community and the kids, loved ones, and neighbors whose lives were forever changed by an unthinkable tragedy last night.” 

He expressed gratitude for the “first responders and folks who acted quickly to help.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki posted on social media that President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation Sunday night. 

“Our team is in close touch with local officials to offer any support and assistance needed,” Psaki wrote. “Our hearts are with the families and the entire community.”