A sports utility vehicle plowed through a Christmas parade in the US state of Wisconsin, hitting more than 20 people, including children, and causing “some deaths,” police said.
The incident occurred Sunday around 4:39 p.m. (22:39 GMT) in the city of Waukesha, about 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of Milwaukee.
Waukesha police chief Dan Thompson said a person of interest was in custody and the suspect vehicle was recovered.
‘A red SUV drove into our Christmas parade which we held in the city center. “More than 20 individuals were injured in the incident,” Thompson told reporters.
“Some of the individuals were children and there are some deaths as a result of this incident.”
Asked about the deaths, Thompson said: “I do not currently have an exact number.”
It was not known if the incident was linked to terrorism, but an earlier shelter-in-place order in the town of about 72,000 was lifted, he added.
A video posted online shows a red SUV plowing through the parade, apparently overpowering more than a dozen people before crowds ran off sidewalks to offer assistance.
In a second video, police appeared to have opened fire on the vehicle when it collided with street barriers.
The local CBS subsidiary later posted a photo on Twitter of what was apparently the red sports utility vehicle involved with its hood crumpled and a hanging front fender parked in a driveway.
Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school district councilor, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter’s dance team had been hit by the SUV.
“They were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere. “I had to go from one crumpled body to another to get my daughter,” he said. “My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everyone. Please pray. ”
Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Center studio, told The Associated Press news agency he had about 70 girls in the parade ranging from as young as 2 being pulled into carriages to the age of 18.
Germain, whose own 3-year-old daughter was in the parade, said he was driving at the head of their entrance when he saw a maroon SUV that “just fired right past us”. A police officer followed on foot, he said. Germain said he jumped out of his own sports utility vehicle and gathered the girls who were with him.
“There were little kids lying all over the road, there were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on several members of the parade,” he said.
One witness said the driver also hit the “Dancing Grannies”, and at least one person overturned the hood of the SUV, according to Milwaukee’s WISN-TV, an ABC subsidiary.
“Members of the group and volunteers have been affected and we are waiting for word on their conditions,” the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies said on their Facebook page. “Please keep the Grandmothers, all the injured and all who witnessed this horrific event in your thoughts and prayers.”
Photos and videos of Waukesha circulating on Twitter showed police cars and ambulances bumping into a street full of Christmas lights in the aftermath of the incident. Bundled people crowded on sidewalks as dusk fell.
Some of the wounded were taken to hospital by ambulance, others by police and even more by family and friends, Thompson said.
“As we walked back between the buildings in… we saw a sports utility vehicle crossing, just put the pedal on the metal and just zoomed in at full speed along the parade route. “And then we heard a loud bang, and only deafening cries and screams from people hit by the vehicle,” Angelito Tenorio, an alderman in the nearby West Allis, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Police officers ran down the street and told paramedics to hide in shops, the newspaper said.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he and his wife, Kathy, “pray tonight for Waukesha and all the children, families and community members affected by this senseless act.”