Wisconsin parishes pray for victims after SUV smashes through parade crowd
by Catholic Information Service
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CNS) – Religious leaders and parishes prayed for the five who died and dozens more who were injured, including a Catholic priest, parishioners and students at a Catholic school, when a SUV passed by spectators watching a Christmas parade.
“Our prayers are with those who were injured and killed in the tragic incident in Waukesha,” said Sandra Peterson, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in a statement posted on the Archdiocese’s website a few hours after the incident on the evening of November. 21.
Waukesha is approximately 20 miles west of Milwaukee and is part of the Archdiocese.
“Among the injured is one of our Catholic priests, as well as several Catholic parishioners and schoolchildren in Waukesha,” said Peterson. Please join us in prayer for all involved, their families and those who are traumatized by witnessing this horrific scene. “
A post in early November 22 on the Facebook page of the Catholic Community of Waukesha, a group of four parishes, said church leaders were monitoring “the impact of yesterday’s tragic event” and occupied injured parishioners as well as those who attended the parade but were unharmed.
“It is in our most difficult hours that we as a community turn to our Lord for refuge, strength and love,” the message said.
Community members gathered soon after the incident to recite the Rosary on Facebook. Mass was offered in early November 22 at St. William’s Church, one of the churches in the community, for the victims. A prayer service was scheduled later that evening at church.
The Catholic community of Waukesha also organized counseling and support services for anyone seeking help.
Authorities said in early November 22 that five people died and more than 40 others were injured when an SUV broke through a barricade at around 4:39 p.m. local time and drove down the street where the parade was taking place.
The victims included at least 11 adults and 12 children, authorities said.
Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson said the driver’s vehicle was found and a “person of interest” identified as Darrell E. Brooks Jr. was arrested. Thompson declined to discuss the reason for the incident.
Reports stated that Brooks was a Milwaukee man with a criminal history dating back to 1999 and including numerous violent crimes.
Mayor Shawn Reilly described the incident as a “horrible and senseless act”, local media reported.
Waukesha school district officials canceled classes for November 22.
A video posted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website showed an SUV speeding down the street between parade attendees and parade watchers sitting and standing at the curb as a police vehicle, with a blaring siren, followed at a slower pace.
Another video showed bags, a stroller and other personal effects strewn in the street along the parade route.
The newspaper also reported that Thompson said “an officer discharged his gun at the suspect vehicle in an attempt to stop the vehicle. No spectator was injured as a result of the weapon being discharged.
The parade is one of the city’s largest and most beloved annual events, drawing viewers and participants from across Southeastern Wisconsin.