US authorities have confirmed that at least five people have been killed, with a Catholic priest, parishioners, and Catholic schoolchildren among the 40 injured when an SUV ploughed into marchers during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee also clarified that one of the priests in the diocese was among those injured in the aftermath of the attack, with the archdiocese’s communications director, Sandra Peterson, saying afterwards that her “prayers are with the people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha” and to “please join us in prayer for all those involved, their families, and those who are traumatised from witnessing the horrible scene”.
US authorities documented that five people were killed and 40 injured when the driver of a red SUV barrelled through barricades and into a crowd marching down the main street of the Milwaukee suburb just before 4:40 pm on Sunday evening. Videos posted on social media showed a dark SUV racing down the parade route past horrified onlookers moments before marchers were struck, with police in pursuit.
The Waukesha police department said they have a person of interest in custody. The department is also probing the possibility that whoever was behind the wheel had been involved in an earlier incident involving a knife fight and was fleeing just prior to the vehicle reaching the parade.
Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson also disclosed that an officer opened fire at the SUV in an attempt to derail the driver during the attack and added that police were no longer searching for the vehicle used in the crime.
The Catholic Community of Waukesha held a livestreamed prayer service on Monday at St William Church, and said it is planning to provide counselling and support for parishioners following the tragedy. The community was among those marching in the parade.
“We continue to monitor the impact of yesterday’s tragic event and minister to our injured parishioners and to anyone who was in attendance,” the group wrote on Facebook.
“It is in our most difficult hours that we, as a community, turn to our Lord for refuge, strength and love. Please join us and with your community for prayer.”
The city’s four Catholic parishes have been livestreaming the rosary and Eucharistic adoration every night. The rosary following the incident on Sunday had almost 300 comments, over 250 reactions, and 53 shares.