Darnell Brooks Jr., the suspected driver of a red SUV that crashed through a Waukesha, Wisconsin, Christmas parade Sunday night, killing five people and injuring 48, will be charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, authorities said Monday afternoon.
Those he allegedly killed are all over the age of 50 and include James Coolidge, 52; Tamara Durand, 52; Wilhelm Hospel, 82; Leanna Owens, 71; and Virginia Sorenson, 79.
Brooks, a 39-year-old amateur rapper from Milwaukee, had been bailed out of jail less than 48 hours earlier and was allegedly fleeing the scene of a domestic disturbance when he blew past barricades and plowed into paraders, Dan Thompson, chief of the Waukesha Police Department, said.
Thompson said the incident was not related to terrorism. He added that a police officer fired a shot at Brooks but that due to the crowd at the parade, it was not safe to keep pursuing him. Brooks was captured shortly after the vehicle sped away.
Brooks has a lengthy criminal history, including two open felony cases.
On Nov. 5, he was charged with resisting an officer (misdemeanor), bail jumping (felony), and second-degree recklessly endangering safety (felony) with domestic assessments, as well as disorderly conduct and battery (both misdemeanors, also with domestic abuse assessments). He posted a $1,000 bond on Nov. 19, 2021.
In the other case, filed in July 2020, Brooks was charged with reckless endangering and illegal possession of a firearm.
His rap sheet dates back to 1999 when he was convicted of substantial battery, a felony. In 2002, he was convicted of another felony, marijuana possession. A year later, he was convicted of obstructing an officer and then convicted on the same charge two years after that. In 2011, he was convicted of marijuana possession second plus offense, which is a felony.
Brooks raps under the name MathBoi Fly and had a YouTube channel with music rap videos that has since been deleted but was saved by Heavy.com.
On one of his Twitter pages, he described himself as “Milwaukee, WI born & raised, rapper/songwriter/producer/stoner/philosopher/next big thing out of the Midwest if u aint know, get in tune.”
Brooks also wrote about Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer sentenced to more than 22 years in jail for the murder of George Floyd. He posted a picture of Chauvin and told his followers to “ALWAYZ REMEMBER THIS BITXH ASS MF FACE!! (sic)” followed by a middle finger.
He commented on Twitter posts from former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and CNN, posted a photoshopped fake image of former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a Nazi, and posted a picture of a watermelon with “BLM” (Black Lives Matter) carved on the side, Heavy reported.
In a Facebook page belonging to Brooks, he wrote about the three-week headline-grabbing Kyle Rittenhouse trial, which had taken place about an hour away from where he lived. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on Friday on five criminal charges after opening fire during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two people and injuring a third. His Facebook page was also filled with religious sayings.
On Sunday, Brooks allegedly sped through barricades and into the Waukesha town Christmas parade, killing multiple and hitting more than 48 adults and children. The incident was caught on Waukesha’s city’s livestream feed as well as on the cellphones of onlookers.
One video shows a woman repeatedly screaming “Oh my God!” after a group of dancing girls wearing Santa hats was struck. Another video shows the red SUV plowing into members of a marching band. Members of the beloved “Dancing Grannies” club were among those killed.
Thompson gave no immediate details about the person taken into custody or any possible motive behind the horrible attack. He added that he didn’t know if the driver was hit by an officer’s bullets but that no bystanders were wounded.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee said a Roman Catholic priest, parishioners, and Waukesha Catholic schoolchildren were among those injured.
Chris Germain, co-owner of the Aspire Dance Center, which had about 70 people in the parade, including children as young as 2 being pulled in a wagon and as old as 18 dancing, told the media he was driving toward the head of their entry when he saw a red SUV that “just blazed right past us.”
Germain said that after he saw a police officer run past them in chase, he jumped out of his own car and grabbed the girls who were with him to take them to safety. Then he came back to assess the carnage.
“There were small children laying all over the road,” Germain said. “There were police officers and EMTs doing CPR on multiple members of the parade.”