Hundreds of community members joined together on a frigid night, finding comfort in one another with a difficult journey ahead.
Through heartbreak and anger, families, friends and strangers came together as one.
“Yesterday’s tragic event demonstrated the character of this community,” said Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson. “When tragedy struck this great city, the community responded.”
Twenty-four hours after chaos and tragedy unfolded at the Waukesha Christmas Parade, candlelight flickered across Cutler Park during Monday night’s interfaith prayer vigil to remember the innocent killed and the many still fighting to live.
“So often, we focus on the perpetrator,” said Fr. David Simmons, St. Matthias Episcopal Church. “So often, we focus on the evil, and when we do that, we completely miss all the people that are helping.”
One man described being just feet away when the SUV barreled into parade marchers. After getting the children with him to safety, he said he returned to the scene to offer comfort.
“It’s one of those things you will remember for the rest of your life,” said Michael Keshan. “We went from a situation of just, exuberant, thrilled children to calamity. It’s…it’s sad.”
He and countless others are now seeking hope and healing.
“It says that we are a community,” said Mushir Hassan, Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network. “We are one community, and we are going to heal together. We grieve together right now, and we will heal together moving forward.”
Waukesha is looking for strength and resilience as a long road ahead begins.
“As we move forward, may we all serve toward the betterment of our world,” said Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee executive director.
“Waukesha Strong” is a phrase you’ll soon be hearing more of. Those who organized this vigil encouraged those who need help to take advantage of the many community resources being offered, including the disaster distress helpline.
The driver of an SUV that hurtled through a barricade and slammed into a Christmas parade in suburban Waukesha on Sunday was fleeing from a domestic disturbance moments before he killed at least five people and injured more than 40, police said.
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Monday that Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, was fleeing a domestic disturbance with a report of a knife when he rammed into the parade. Brooks was not being chased, Thompson said. He will be charged with five counts of intentional homicide, Thompson added.
The dead were four women and a man ages 52 to 81. Thompson said 48 people were injured in the crash, which was captured on the city’s livestream as the SUV struck a high school band, children’s dance group and the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
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