Hours after a car crashed into a Wisconsin holiday parade and turned the triumphant return of the annual Christmas event into chaos, tributes began pouring in for the five people killed.
Four of the victims in the Sunday night incident in the city of Waukesha was affiliated with the “Milwaukee Dancing Grannies” a dance group composed of local grandmothers who have been a mainstay of Wisconsin vacation parades for nearly 40 years.
Three of the murdered – Ginny Sorenson (79, LeAnna Owen (71) and Tamara Durand (52) – were members, while Wilhelm Hospel (81) helped the group, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The fifth victim, Jane Kulich, 52, worked at Citizens Bank, according to local media. Her Facebook page included posts about the birth of a granddaughter, as well as photos of family, nature and cats.
Shortly before the attack, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies excitedly announced on Facebook that they were “kicking off their holiday parades”.
“Waukesha here we come !!!” the post said.
After the chaos, the group released a statement saying that the victims “do what they love, by performing in front of crowds in a parade”.
“To put smiles on faces of all ages and fill them with joy and happiness,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the local branch of Citizens Bank issued a statement saying an employee “was walking with our parade float” when she was beaten and killed.
On Monday night, hundreds gathered at the crash site to light a candle and remember the victims who died after a man. identified by the police while Darrell Brooks, 39, plowed a sports utility vehicle into the crowd that gathered at the parade.
“Last night was a tragedy that no community should ever experience. “Last night our children were terrified when they should have laughed,” Mayor Shawn Reilly told the crowd. “Last night many of our friends were seriously injured when they had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with friends and neighbors.”
Authorities said 48 others were injured in the attack, including six children who remained in critical condition in hospital.
Brooks, who was out on bail after being charged in a previous case of domestic abuse, is facing five charges of first-degree manslaughter for the attack.
Police received reports of a domestic dispute involving Brooks before the incident Sunday, but did not immediately know what caused the attack. They ruled out “terrorism”.
‘Dancing her way through life’
Dave Durand, whose wife Tamara was fatally struck, told the Associated Press news agency the mother of three and grandmother of one attended her first parade with the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies on Sunday.
“She basically danced her way through life,” he said of his eight-year-old wife, adding she was “super excited” for her first performance with the group.
“She was completely energetic and was her happiest when she danced.”
David Sorenson, whose wife of nearly 60 years was the group’s choreographer, said Ginny Sorenson cherished the time with the group.
“What did she like about it? Everything, ”her husband told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “She liked the assignment. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform. “
He added: “She taught me to do the cancan.”
Meanwhile, an online fundraiser for Kulich’s family described her as a “loving, beautiful and charismatic mother, grandmother and friend to so many”.
“The world is a much darker place without a woman like this in the world,” the GoFundMe page said.