Nov 22, 2021
Waukesha, Wisconsin Update Press Conference Transcript: Deadly Christmas Parade Attack
Waukesha, Wisconsin police held a press conference on November 22, 2021 to give an update on the deadly attack during a Christmas parade. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Chief Dan Thompson: (00:00)
Information that the suspect prior to the incident was involved in a domestic disturbance, which was just minutes prior and the suspect left that scene just prior to our arrival to that domestic disturbance. When the suspect was driving through into the crowd, one officer did discharge his firearm and fired shots at the suspect to stop the threat. But due to the amount of people had to stop and did not fire any other additional shots. The officer is on administrative of leave as part of the department protocol. No one was injured as a result of the officer discharging his firearm.
Chief Dan Thompson: (00:51)
The subject was taken into custody of short distance from the scene, and we are confident he acted alone. There is no evidence that this is a terrorist incident. Due to the wind yesterday, there was a power outage downtown Waukesha to further complicate our emergency response. I want to identify the victims that we know of at this time. And I say this with great sorrow, Virginia Sorenson, 79-year-old female, LeAnna Owens, 71-year-old female, Tamara Durand, 52-year-old female, Jane Kulich, 52-year-old female, Wilhelm Hospel, 81-year-old male.
Chief Dan Thompson: (01:47)
The suspect involved in this tragic incident is identified as Darrell E. Brooks, male 39 years of age, who is a resident of city of Milwaukee. At this time, the Waukesha Police Department is referring five counts of first degree intentional homicide with additional charges based on the investigation, but those will come in time. There are many roads in downtown area were closed as investigators worked through the crime scene. Those roads have since been opened. I’ll say this, minutes after an incident occurred, I responded to the scene and what I saw out of chaos and tragedy was heroes.
Chief Dan Thompson: (02:35)
First responders in the community coming together and working together and triaging victims, working in partnership with the fire department, getting these victims to the hospital. Fire department transported multiple victims. Chief Howard will talk about that. Officers picked up victims and put them in the squad and rushed him to the hospital and citizens also picked up victims and rushed to the hospital. There’s also off duty law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel, that were attending this event who really got involved and took part in saving lives.
Chief Dan Thompson: (03:23)
I want to thank our community partners. I want to dispel rumors. There’s no pursuit that led up to this incident. This is not a terrorist event. I want to thank our first responder partners. It is a long list and I apologize, we apologize if I forgot anyone. Waukesha Fire Department, no words can express the partnership that we have with the Waukesha Fire Department and how we worked together as one in this incident. MABAS Mutual Aid Box Alarm system, Chief Howard will talk about that, the Suburban Mutual Aid Response Team, which we call SMART, responded which it includes dozen local law enforcement agencies, FBI, ATF, the state division of criminal investigations, school district of Waukesha, the Milwaukee Police Department Fusion Center, Wisconsin State Crime Lab, Wisconsin State Patrol.
Chief Dan Thompson: (04:39)
After this press conference, we’ll provide a link on our website for any questions regarding witness information. If there’s any additional video that a citizen might have, they can look at this link or any family members or individuals that need to recover property. The Waukesha Police Department website is the only source for information. Do not release information from any other source as it has not been vetted and could lead to false information. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (05:13)
Chief Howard: (05:18)
Thank you, Dan. Before I get started, on behalf of the men and women of the Waukesha Fire Department, I’d like to say our prayers go out to the families and the whole community that was affected by yesterday’s tragedy. The city of Waukesha Fire Department responded to a mass casually incident yesterday afternoon. All 26 on duty personnel responded to the incident from five stations. Our closest downtown station was within sight of the parade route. Our units started to spontaneously respond based on radio traffic and dispatch information.
Chief Howard: (05:56)
We immediately activated our mass casualty protocol and utilized the MABAS, which is our mutual aid system mutual box alarm system, to the second level to provide us with additional resources to treat the victims. We received resources from 12 area fire departments. We were also aided greatly by off duty firefighters and EMS personnel, medical personnel, and just civilian bystanders. They greatly assisted us with our initial treatment and triage of patients. Patients were transported to six area hospitals with fire department EMS transporting 22 patients. Law enforcement personnel, bystanders also transported additional personnel or additional victims to the hospital.
Chief Howard: (06:54)
At this time, we believe that 48 people were treated at local hospitals, although this number might increase based on information being gathered. Like Chief Thompson, I also had an opportunity. I did respond to the incident. I got there just a little bit after the chief did and based on my observations, very, very overwhelmed by the response of the community to this tragedy. People banded together to do the best they could to deal with this incident. Last night, going out and visiting the fire stations and the people that responded overwhelmingly our personnel expressed their sincere thanks for everyone who stepped up and assisted with the treatment of the citizens that were injured.
Chief Howard: (07:49)
Again, our hearts go out to the families and the victims of the senseless tragedy, and we appreciate all the assistance and support that’s been offered to the city of Waukesha Fire Department.
Speaker 2: (08:01)
Mayor Shawn Reilly.
Mayor Shawn Reilly: (08:04)
Thank you. Last night, we experienced a senseless tragedy. Many of us were participants in the parade and witnessed these horrific actions. We are all trying to process what we experienced. Our police, firefighters, partners, and so many others spraying into action immediately last night to help the people that were injured. For those of you who do not live in Waukesha, you need to know that Waukesha is a community that helps their neighbors. Waukesha is a community that takes pride in its identity and has a wonderful spirit.
Mayor Shawn Reilly: (08:42)
Waukesha looks after each other. Waukesha enjoys its celebrations and the entire community joins in those celebrations. We are a close community. Waukesha is a community where many of its residents have lived for generations. Waukesha is also the type of community where new residents tell their friends to move here because it is so special. Waukesha has held what can be described as a Norman Rockwell type of Christmas parade for almost six decades. Last night, our wonderful Waukesha parade became the scene of a horrific tragedy.
Mayor Shawn Reilly: (09:22)
Last night, that parade became a nightmare. Last night, many were severely injured. Last night, lives were lost during the middle of what should have been a celebration. Last night, many were severely injured, lost their lives and all who were there were traumatized. We experienced a horrific tragedy. We have so much healing that needs to occur. Waukesha, though, will not be defined by the horrific events of last night. We are community that will come together. We will help those who experienced a loss of a loved one or were injured.
Mayor Shawn Reilly: (10:05)
We will work together to bring healing. The healing needs to begin now. With that in mind, I share the following, a prayer vigil be held tonight at 5:00 PM at Cutler Park, the Waukesha Public Library, which is immediately adjacent to it, will be closing at 4:00 PM so the public can utilize that parking lot. The downtown South Street parking ramp, which is also immediately near it, will also be open for free parking. We know that members of the community want to help out and help the victims. The Waukesha County Community Foundation and United Way of greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County have joined together to create the United for Waukesha Community Fund.
Mayor Shawn Reilly: (10:50)
This fund will support the needs of the family’s impact, and there will be a website on our page that will tell you how to access that fund. Many people witnessed traumatic events last evening. If you need to talk to someone you can call or text 800-985-5990 to be connected to a trained caring counselor and they’re available 24/7. That number will also be on our website. Please only call 911 for true emergencies. There will be a resource center set up at Carol University for all victims from two to 6:00 PM Tuesday and 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Wednesday.
Mayor Shawn Reilly: (11:38)
That information will be placed upon our website. The District Attorney Victim Assistance Program is also available to provide assistance and an email for that service will be shared on social media. Our community needs to heal from physical injury and emotional trauma and what was taken from us by this senseless act. What we do today and the days ahead is what will define us as a city, and I know we’ll come together and help Waukesha heal. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (12:12)
Dr. Jim Sebert.
Dr. Jim Sebert: (12:16)
Good afternoon, everyone. I’m deeply saddened by yesterday’s events and the tremendous impact they are having on both our school community and the larger walk and Shaw community. I want to begin by thanking our partners at the city and the police and fire departments for their leadership and partnership. We are focused on our kids, our staff, and our families, and making resources available to them. We stand with our community and are one of the resources for support as we navigate this tragic event.
Dr. Jim Sebert: (12:48)
The School District of Waukesha is providing internal assistance as well as resources outside of the district to support kids, staff, and families. Should families need guidance on how to address trauma with your children, please do not hesitate to reach out to the student services staff at your child’s school. We are actively dispatching additional support to our schools for staff and students. Your school administration and student services team can connect you with our crisis counseling staff in a very timely manner.
Dr. Jim Sebert: (13:20)
School psychologists, social workers, school counselors, and community mental health providers are available and trained to support children and families in crisis today and into the future. I also want to thank our surrounding school districts, Waukesha County, our local healthcare partners, the Department of Public Instruction and the governor’s office for their support of the School District of Waukesha during this time. We also provided meals today from noon to 1:00 PM across the district, and we will do the same tomorrow at the following sites via their main entrance.
Dr. Jim Sebert: (13:55)
Butler, Horning and Les Paul Middle Schools, as well as North, South and West High Schools. I’m announcing at this time that the School District of Waukesha will again be closed for classes on Tuesday, November 23rd. Our counseling and lunch services will be available to students and staff again tomorrow. The district will resume class after the Thanksgiving holiday per our school calendar on Monday, November 29th. We ask that you respect the privacy of our students, staff and families, and that you do not try to interview students, staff, or families at our school sites.
Dr. Jim Sebert: (14:33)
Further information and any additional updates we’ll can do, continue to be available on our district website. And I am deeply sorry that we are here today and we look forward to healing both as a school community and a larger Waukesha community,
Speaker 2: (14:51)
Alan Johnson: (14:55)
Good afternoon. I am vice president of critical care and specialty services for ProHealth Care. In my role, I work closely with our emergency departments, our critical care units and our mass casualty incident command process. I’d like to start by expressing my sympathies and those of everyone at ProHealth Care for the victims and their families. This was truly a tragedy for our entire community. I’d like to thank all of the first responders and the others who came together to do what was required last night, all involved did outstanding work.
Alan Johnson: (15:31)
Among the 48 victims of the parade tragedy who were transported to area hospitals, 29 arrived at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. The hospital is just blocks away from the parade route and victims started arriving very quickly after the incident. In fact, many of ProHealth Care’s staff were attending the parade, witnessed this tragedy and provided immediate first aid to victims. There were many children among the victims brought to Waukesha Memorial. After initial assessment, stabilization and treatment, we transferred 11 of those to Children’s of Wisconsin. Four victims were admitted to Waukesha Memorial.
Alan Johnson: (16:16)
They are all currently stable and many of them will likely discharge from the hospital today. Those patients admitted included both children and adults. 12 people were treated in our emergency department and released. One patient per presented to us and left without being seen. Sadly, one of the victims who was brought to Waukesha Memorial was pronounced dead on arrival. In addition to those who were on duty at Waukesha Memorial last night, many others rushed to the hospital to help. They included nearly every one of our emergency department physicians, countless surgeons, anesthesiologists, hospitalists, and nurses.
Alan Johnson: (17:02)
What I saw on display last night in response to this crisis was nothing less than the highest level of professionalism. Our coordination with local fire and local EMS worked flawlessly in the face of this incident. And on behalf of ProHealth Care, I want to thank everybody for participating. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (17:27)
At this time, we’ll open it up for a few questions, but be mindful. Nick, I’ll start with you from channel 12. Be mindful that we’re going to be limited in scope with the information that we can be released at this time due to maintaining the integrity of the investigation, moreover to the judicial process. We want to be transparent, but we’re also mindful that we’re not going to compromise in any aspect of this investigation. We’re dealing with five counts of intentional first degree homicide here.
Speaker 2: (17:53)
Please be mindful of those when you ask your questions. Brett, I’m sorry, Nick.
What can you tell us about the arrest? Where was he located? Was there an incident there? Was he injured? Did he say anything about what led up with this and what happened and why he [inaudible 00:18:09]?
Chief Dan Thompson: (18:11)
There’s about five questions in that one question, so I’m going to do my best to try to answer that. We can tell you that the investigation did not indicate that there’s any type of domestic or international type of terrorism. We can tell you that there was some type of disturbance that we suspect was between the suspect and other individuals at a different location just prior to the incident. Shortly after this tragedy occurred, officers immediately identified the suspect vehicle. Shortly after that, they apprehended the suspect, the suspect had no injuries.
Chief Dan Thompson: (18:57)
And then after he is detained, he was taken into our custody.
Did he say anything about why …
Chief Dan Thompson: (19:05)
That’s still ongoing and this is a fluid investigation. What we do not want to do is jeopardize integrity of this investigation at any point. Right now, our focus, the Waukesha Police Department’s focus, the city of Waukesha’s focus is the families, the victim and due process because that’s important.
Speaker 2: (19:29)
Brett Malloy: (19:30)
Yeah. Chief, can you …
Speaker 2: (19:33)
Is this for the chief? Okay. Go ahead.
Brett Malloy: (19:34)
Can you elaborate on that domestic situation? We understand that there may have been a knife involved and did Brooks know someone in the parade?
Chief Dan Thompson: (19:44)
So we have no information that Brooks knew anybody in the parade. But I will say this, we weren’t able even to respond to that domestic call before it actually, so we couldn’t even investigate it. So was there an initial complaint of a knife being involved? Yes. Do we know if there actually was one there? We don’t know because we didn’t even make it there. We ended up immediately responding to the crisis.
Speaker 2: (20:17)
58. Who’s this for, 58? Chief or?
Speaker 8: (20:20)
There’s been a lot of confusion about just how this person got through the parade. I guess question about barricades and that kind of thing. Is there anything that’s come up in your investigation that you can speak to about why that would be and how he actually got through and managed to get to this crowd?
Chief Dan Thompson: (20:32)
I’ll tell you this. We actually had a squad and barricades up and he drove right through the barricades and the officers. When the officer tried to engage and stop the threat, he still continued through the crowd.
Speaker 9: (20:46)
Chief, what was the distance …
Speaker 2: (20:47)
Speaker 9: (20:47)
We’re going with channel four next. Being mindful of the rules.
Speaker 10: (20:52)
We’d really appreciate it if you go back and spell the names of the victims you mentioned earlier if that’s possible to do.
Chief Dan Thompson: (20:55)
Just give me a moment.
Speaker 2: (21:01)
While we’re waiting, I will come back to you. Nikki from the Freeman. Go ahead. Who is this for?
I’m Nikki with the Freeman. I’m wondering if you could share the parade route that the vehicle traveled down and where the vehicle [inaudible 00:21:16].
Speaker 2: (21:17)
The parade route where the vehicle entered was in the area of Hartwell and Main Street and the end of the parade route where the vehicle took off from was like right around Veterans Park, Main and Maple area, Main and Wisconsin Avenue. Okay. Back to four. Are you ready?
Chief Dan Thompson: (21:33)
Speaker 2: (21:33)
Chief Dan Thompson: (21:33)
I’m going to repeat the names and again, I apologize for getting emotional about it.
Speaker 2: (21:41)
Chief, actually, we’re going to put it on the release. I’ll put the names out on the press release. We’ll post that on the internet, so we get all outlets. Yes. State where your agency is from and who you’d like to speak to.
Nancy Chen: (21:51)
Nancy Chen from CBS News. I have a question for Chief Howard.
Speaker 2: (21:54)
Nancy Chen: (21:57)
Chief, what did your first responders see at the parade? Many of them were there to be a part of the parade. What have they said to you?
Chief Howard: (22:06)
It was just, I guess for lack of better, just carnage, liken it to a war zone. There were adults, children that were injured. Some of our first responders were there with their families. They left their families to treat people, helped with instant command, helped transport along with many other medical personnel and people that were there. But I guess what stands out in my mind from our conversations is we do have people who have military backgrounds and likened it to a war zone.
Speaker 2: (22:37)
I’ll get two more questions. I’ll go back right there. Gentleman with your hand up, your agency and who would you like to question to?
Speaker 14: (22:43)
ABC News. Chief Thompson, please.
Speaker 2: (22:45)
Speaker 14: (22:45)
Chief, can you tell us anything about this suspect’s previous record, the allegations that he made have tried run over his girlfriend in the past or some other person?
Chief Dan Thompson: (22:55)
I’ll tell …
Speaker 14: (22:55)
Anything you know about him?
Chief Dan Thompson: (22:56)
My focus, our focus right now is this incident. This tragic incident is what we’re focused on and the families and victims of this incident.
Adrienne Broaddus: (23:07)
Chief Johnson, Adrienne Broaddus here from CNN.
Speaker 2: (23:11)
State who would you like to speak to. Chief Thompson or Chief Howard?
Adrienne Broaddus: (23:13)
Speaker 2: (23:14)
Adrienne Broaddus: (23:14)
Adrienne Broaddus from CNN.
Speaker 2: (23:14)
Adrienne Broaddus: (23:16)
Talk to us about those families who are grieving that you know, what memories do you have [inaudible 00:23:23]?
Chief Dan Thompson: (23:25)
I’ll talk about the incident itself and being there and seeing, I’ll give you one. As I’m watching officers and fire personnel triaging and taking victims, putting them in ambulances and putting them in squad cars, I have a nurse who walks up to me and says, “My mother was injured. Can we get her help?” Sure enough, we helped her get her mother into a vehicle and we escorted her, the vehicle out of the scene safely. This is for the family. I want to ask you to respect the family. This is a very tragic incident. And again, it’s still fluid and ongoing.
Speaker 2: (24:16)
We’re going to cut questions right there. Like I said earlier, we will put a press release out here shortly, probably within the next 60 minutes. It’s going to identify the links. It’s going to identify some of the phone numbers that people can reach out to. At this time, we do not have a follow up press conference at this time. Everything will be done via press releases. If there is a press conference, we will give everybody, all of our affiliates ample amount of time to come back to city hall. Thank you very much. We get distance
Speaker 16: (24:48)
Ages 52 to 81? Ages of the victims, 52 to 81?
Speaker 2: (24:54)
Yes. Yes. We’ll put their names out here shortly. Yes, my apologies.
Speaker 17: (24:58)
One quick question. Do we have any idea of the distance between where the call was made and when they entered the parade ground?
Speaker 2: (25:05)
I told that.