WAUKESHA – A car plowed into the Waukesha Christmas Parade Sunday evening, leaving multiple people injured, according to witnesses on scene.
Multiple people were on the ground injured after the crash, which occurred shortly before 5 p.m., witnesses said.
There were unconfirmed reports that shots were fired during the incident, which occurred during one of the city’s biggest and most cherished annual events.
Angelito Tenorio, a West Allis alderman who is running for Wisconsin state treasurer, said he had just finished marching in the parade with his family and friends and was walking back toward Main Street.
“As we were walking back in between the buildings that we saw an SUV crossover, just put the pedal to the metal and just zooming full speed along the parade route. And then we heard a loud bang, and just deafening cries and screams from people who are who are struck by the vehicle,” Tenorio said. “And then, and then we saw people running away or stopping crying, and there, there are people on the ground who looked like they’d been hit by the vehicle.”
He added, “It just all happened so fast.”
Videos posted to social media, including a live feed of the parade operated by the City of Waukesha, show a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place.
In the city’s footage, taken from a distance, the SUV speeds into the parade just behind a school marching band.
A reporter at the scene said that a red SUV came barreling down the street, and the crowd could hear the thuds as it struck people, leaving many on the ground.
Some people got up and ran into nearby stores. Many were screaming and crying.
Then police officers ran down the street, telling people to go into the stores and get off the street. They also said shots had been fired and warned at least 30 people were down, the reporter said.
Police moved to shut down several streets in downtown Waukesha. Several different law enforcement agencies were at the scene and up until around 6 p.m. ambulances were seen leaving the area.
Parade-goers were still wandering around the city.
Alderman Don Paul Browne said he had been marching in the front of the parade and was almost home when his wife texted asking if he was okay.
“I am in shock,” he said. “This parade draws people from all over, even Jefferson County. I am numb. It is pretty upsetting.”
He added, “My inclination was to try to help, but that may be the last thing the police would need. The best I can do is be a source for people. We have to worry about shootings now. It breaks my heart.”
Rep. Sara Rodriguez, who represents parts of Waukesha, marched in the parade with the Waukesha County Democrats. Rodriguez said Sunday night her group had finished marching when the SUV plowed through the crowd.
“I didn’t directly witness the car coming through — we had finished the parade route and so it came after when we were done,” she said. “People were running and screaming and moving out of the way … My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who’ve been injured.”
The parade runs through the downtown area of Waukesha.
Waukesha is celebrating its 125th year with celebrations throughout the year. The parade is always one of the biggest events of the year in the city. The parade is the official kickoff to the holiday season in downtown Waukesha
Cathy Kozlowicz and Kaylee Staral of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.