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Police collect abandoned items along a parade route in Waukesha, Wis., on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, after the driver of an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade on Sunday. Image Credit: New York Times

Waukesha, Wisconsin: A suspect who drove a speeding SUV into dozens of people at a Christmas parade in Wisconsin after he fled a domestic disturbance will be charged with homicide for the five people killed, police said on Monday.

Authorities say the incident was not terror-related.

“We have information that the suspect, prior to the incident, was involved in a domestic disturbance,” Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson told a briefing.

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Darrell Brooks poses for a booking photograph at the Milwaukee County Jail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. November 3, 2021. Image Credit: Reuters

On the morning after Sunday’s carnage, a pink hat, a lone shoe and candy lay strewn across the main thoroughfare in Waukesha, roughly 32 kilometres west of Milwaukee.

Forty-eight people, including two children, were injured.

Dozens of orange evidence circles were painted on the street and most shops were closed in the city’s downtown district. A woman tied a bouquet of flowers to a street post as police officers blocked intersections along the main road.

The FBI is assisting local police in their investigation.

Thompson identified the person in custody as Darrell E. Brooks, 39.

A search of online court records showed a recent open case involving a person named Darrell Brooks, with a birth date that would make him 39 years old. According to the court documents, he is charged with restricting or obstructing an officer, bail jumping and battery. A $1,000 cash bond was posted earlier this month, the records show.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office released a statement on Monday detailing the pending charges against Brooks and said it was conducting an internal review of the decision involving Brook’s bail recommendation.

“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,” read the statement, which made no reference of the parade incident.

‘Still totally shocked’

A video posted online on Sunday showed a red sport utility vehicle racing alongside and into the parade, appearing to run over more than a dozen people before crowds ran from sidewalks to help.

An officer fired shots at the vehicle in an attempt to stop the carnage, Thompson said. Another video on social media appeared to show police firing on the vehicle as it crashed through street barriers. Police did not believe shots had been fired from the vehicle, Thompson added, contrary to earlier reports.

“It was terrifying,” said Waukesha resident Brian Hoffman, 33, who was present as the vehicle rammed through parade attendees.

“I saw children who were ran over,” Hoffman said sitting on a stoop near the scene that was still blocked off by police. “I am still totally shocked.” The Children’s Wisconsin hospital officials said at a briefing they treated 18 children, including six who remained in critical condition and three in serious condition on Monday. The rest were in fair condition or released. The hospital made no mention of any fatalities.

Among the victims were members of a group of “Dancing Grannies,” according to a statement posted on Facebook on Monday.

“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed.....(with the) joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue....(that) held us together,” read the statement posted on the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies Facebook page. “Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time, as more information and updates become available it will be posted.” Schools will remain closed on Monday and additional counselors will be available for students, the district superintendent of schools said. Waukesha authorities said a fund for the affected families had been set up.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the “tragic situation” and federal officials were offering assistance.

In 2015, four people were killed and 46 injured in Stillwater, Oklahoma, when a woman drove into a crowd watching the homecoming parade for a football team.