A sixth victim has died after the Waukesha Christmas parade crash, prosecutors say
The child was one of 16 children admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, facility officials said in a news release.
“With deepest sympathy and sorrow, Children’s Wisconsin shares that earlier Tuesday, a child being cared for at Children’s Wisconsin passed away from injuries sustained at the Waukesha parade. As family and friends learn of this loss and the name of the child is likely to become public, the child’s parents have asked that their privacy be respected. They do not wish to be contacted by media at this time,” the release said.
Two children were able to go home Monday, the release said. A total of 13 children remain hospitalized, with six in critical condition three in fair condition and four in good condition, the release said.
The latest death comes as Darrell E. Brooks, 39, was officially charged Tuesday with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, according to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors said they will consider a sixth homicide charge, due to the child’s death.
Brooks made his first court appearance to face charges Tuesday. The judge set his bail at $5 million. Brooks was arrested Sunday after police said he barreled into the Waukesha Christmas parade Sunday.
Along with the six deaths, a total of 62 injured, according to charging documents. At least 18 children were also included in the number of people injured.
If convicted, Brooks faces life in prison for all five charges, the charging document states. Brooks’ bail was set at $5 million because the judge said he believed Brooks was a flight risk.
While police said they don’t believe the tragedy was an act of terrorism, new questions have emerged.
The motive remains a mystery
Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance with another person just before plowing his SUV through the parade, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said.
He said police weren’t able to respond to the domestic disturbance call because reports from the parade tragedy came flooding in shortly afterward.
Early indications were that Brooks was fleeing the initial incident, according to multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the preliminary investigation findings.
But there was no police chase of Brooks leading up to the parade, Thompson said. He said the motive for why he crashed into the crowd remains unclear.
According to a criminal complaint describing the incident, three different officers with the Waukesha Police Department attempted to stop Brooks as he was driving.
The first officer, identified in the complaint as Detective Casey, saw people jumping out of the way of the red Ford Escape. Casey stepped in front of the SUV, the complaint reads, and yelled at the driver to stop multiple times. At this point, the vehicle had been going “at a slow speed,” brushed Casey as he stepped to the driver’s side door continuously yelling and continued toward the parade at a faster rate of speed.
Further down the road, Officer Butryn saw the SUV and yelled at the driver to stop multiple times. Butryn estimated the vehicle was going about 25 mph, the complaint said.
“Officer Butryn observed the driver looking straight ahead, directly at him, and it appeared he had no emotion on his face,” the complaint said.
The SUV passed Butryn, at which point he saw the vehicle increase in speed until it reached an intersection where it appeared to stop, the complaint said.
“The vehicle then appeared to rapidly accelerate, as Officer Butryn heard tires squeal,” the complaint read. “At this point, it was clear to Officer Butryn that this was an intentional act to strike and hurt as many people as possible.”
Butryn saw the vehicle driving in a zig-zag-like pattern, the complaint said.
“It was like the SUV was trying to avoid vehicles, not people. There was no attempt made by the vehicle to stop, much less slow down,” one witness told an officer, according to the complaint.
Butryn also saw “bodies and objects” flying as the vehicle drove through and he continued running after it.
Officer Scholten saw the vehicle plowing through crowds as well, and shot at the vehicle three times.
Both Casey and Butryn saw multiple fatalities and injuries, the complaint said.
Casey saw three of the victims die at the scene. The other two were taken to local hospitals where they died, the complaint said. Doctors from the Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the victims’ cause of death to be “multiple blunt force injuries,” the complaint said.
The suspect was out on bond for a questionable amount
Brooks was released from jail less than two weeks ago after allegedly using a vehicle to run over a woman who said she was the mother of his child, court documents show.
The woman survived the November 2 incident and was taken to a hospital for her injuries, according to a criminal complaint.
Prosecutors filed five charges related to the incident, including obstructing an officer, second-degree recklessly endangering safety with domestic abuse assessments, disorderly conduct with domestic abuse assessments and misdemeanor battery with domestic abuse assessments.
Brooks was released from jail November 11 on $1,000 bail — an amount the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office had recommended but now questions.
“The State’s bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks,” the office said in a statement Monday.
“The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office toward matters involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail,” the DA’s office said.
“This office is currently conducting an internal review of the decision to make the recent bail recommendation in this matter in order to determine the appropriate next steps.”
Brooks was also charged with bail jumping because he was already out on bail following a July 2020 incident in which he was charged with two counts of second-degree reckless endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, according to court documents.
CNN reached out to Brooks’ attorney from the 2020 and earlier November 2021 incident about the DA statement but has not yet received a response.
The suspect is also a registered sex offender
Questions about why Brooks was released on $1,000 bond came as news emerged about Brooks’ criminal record in Nevada.
Brooks pleaded guilty to statutory sexual seduction in November 2006, according to court and inmate records.
Additional details about the case were not immediately available. CNN has been unable to identify Brooks’ lawyer for this case.
According to the inmate records, Brooks served his sentence in the Northern Nevada Correctional Center from March 2007 to September 2008.
The Nevada sex offender registry shows Brooks is a registered sex offender in that state.
Brooks also has an outstanding arrest warrant in Nevada in an unrelated case for which he was arrested and jumped bail, authorities said.
The warrant was issued on August 15, 2016, for jumping bail, said Sarah Johns, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.
Johns said detectives later determined Brooks was in Wisconsin. “However, detectives did not have viable intelligence on Brooks’ exact location.”
CNN has reached out to a previous attorney for Brooks, but has not received a response.
Victims are still being treated at hospitals
While Waukesha mourns the five people killed during the parade, dozens of people are trying to recover from their injures.
Authorities identified five of the six people killed as Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
Another victim was identified Tuesday as Jackson Sparks, 8, according to the family’s verified GoFundMe page. It is not immediately clear if Jackson is the sixth parade death mentioned by prosecutors and confirmed by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
“This afternoon, our dear Jackson has sadly succumbed to his injuries and passed away,” an update posted to the page said Tuesday.
Jackson had undergone brain surgery Sunday evening, according to the GoFundMe page.
Jackson’s 12-year-old brother, Tucker, was also injured during the parade and was in the ICU at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, but according to the GoFundMe page, he was expected to be discharged Tuesday.
Many of the other victims injured in the crash were transported to area hospitals, and some were still being treated as of Tuesday.
A firefighter’s son, who was marching with his high school band in the Parade, has just been moved out of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Intensive Care Unit, according to his father Don Tiegs.
Erick Tiegs was struck by the SUV as it plowed through the parade, according to a news release by Caledonia Firefighters Association.
“He has undergone surgery to repair a broken femur. He is still being treated for other injuries, including placement of a chest drainage tube, and is continuing to be assessed for any further complications. Unfortunately, he has a long road to recovery ahead of him,” the release said.
Five dancers who were injured remain in the ICU, the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team said in a statement on their Facebook page Tuesday.
Eighteen children, ranging in ages 3 to 16, were transported to Children’s Wisconsin Hospital, according to Dr. Amy Drendel, director of the hospital’s emergency department and trauma center.
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