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President Biden expressed his support for the community of Waukesha, Wis., on Monday, a day after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb, killing five people and injuring 48 others.
“While we don't have all the facts and the details yet, we know this morning that five families in Waukesha are facing fresh grief of a life without a loved one,” Biden said at an event announcing his nomination of Jerome Powell for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. “An entire community is struggling — struggling to cope with the horrific act of violence.
“Last night, the people of Waukesha were gathered to celebrate the start of a season of hope and togetherness and Thanksgiving,” the president continued. “This morning, Jill and I and the entire Biden family, and I'm sure all of us, pray that that same spirit is going to embrace and lift up all the victims of this tragedy, bringing comfort to those recovering from their injuries and wrapping the families of those who died in the support of their community.”
Biden commended first responders and law enforcement, adding that his administration is “monitoring the situation very closely.”
The driver, identified by police as Darrell Brooks Jr., was taken into custody at the scene. Court records indicate that Brooks has two open criminal cases in Milwaukee County, including one case, filed Nov. 5, in which he was charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangering, disorderly conduct, bail jumping and battery.
Police believe that Brooks was fleeing from a domestic disturbance when he crashed into the parade-goers.
At a press conference Monday, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said authorities are confident that Brooks acted alone, and that there is no evidence of a connection to terrorism.
Videos posted to social media as well as a livestream on the city's website captured the moment the SUV sped through barricades surrounding the parade on Main Street, which featured marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats.
Area hospitals reported treating at least 28 people from the parade, including 15 who were taken to the Children's Wisconsin-Milwaukee Hospital. Aurora Medical Center reported having three patients in critical condition.
Officials have yet to publicly identify the victims. The Milwaukee “Dancing Grannies” posted on its Facebook page that some of its members were among the dead.
“Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness,” the group said. “Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed.”
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee said a Roman Catholic priest, parishioners and Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren were among those injured.