Our coverage of the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Just before dusk on Sunday, Nov. 21, a man driving a red Ford Escape plowed into downtown Waukesha's annual Christmas parade, leaving six dead and more than 60 injured.

Darrell E. Brooks Jr. was subsequently arrested, charged and, on Oct. 26, 2022, found guilty of 76 criminal counts, including six first-degree intentional homicide charges for the six deaths.

Here's what we know about the incident, the victims, the suspect, community reaction and legal questions surrounding the case.

What happened at the Waukesha Christmas Parade

Brooks drove the SUV into the parade route about 4:40 p.m., according to Waukesha police. Brooks was driving at a much higher rate of speed than the parade vehicles and he kept driving after hitting scores of participants, according to witness video footage. 

TIMELINE: "The blood. The CPR The dead." Read a moment-by-moment accounting of what happened that night (11/27/21)LIVE BLOGS: Wednesday, Nov. 24 | Tuesday, Nov. 23 | Monday, Nov. 22 


Questions about bail, risk assessment and public safety

Brooks was free on $1,000 bail from an earlier case in Milwaukee County when authorities say he intentionally drove into the parade. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found that bail to be considerably lower than the average of similar open cases. He also had been assessed as a high risk for release.


What we know about the Waukesha Christmas parade victims

Six people died as a result of the attack and more than 60 people were injured. Those who died range in age from 8 to 81. The youngest person hurt at the parade that we know of is 3 years old. 

VICTIM PROFILES:  Jackson Sparks | Tamara L. Carlson Durand | Virginia 'Ginny' E. Sorenson | Leanna "Lee" Owen | Wilhelm "Bill" Hospel | Jane Kulich


What we know about Darrell Brooks Jr. 

Darrell Brooks appears in Waukesha County Court on Nov. 23, 2021.

Brooks was initially charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Since then, dozens of charges have been added to the case against him, including recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon covering threats and injuries to the many parade participants and spectators. 

Brooks was out on bail at the time of the parade attack with an open court case related to domestic violence.

In October 2022, after a sometimes chaotic four-week trial in which Brooks represented himself, a jury found him guilty on all counts.


How the community has responded

Many businesses and community members have started fundraisers to help those affected by the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy. The biggest one is called the United for Waukesha Community Fund