The driver suspected of plowing through the Waukesha holiday parade Sunday — killing at least five people and injuring more than 40 others — had an ongoing domestic violence case and was out of custody after prosecutors recommended an “inappropriately low” bail in the case, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.
Darrell Brooks Jr., the man suspected of being the driver, has been charged three times in less than two years with recklessly endangering the safety of others, most recently on Nov. 5 as part of a domestic abuse incident for which he was also charged with resisting or obstructing an officer.
In the case this month, a woman told police Brooks purposefully ran her “over with his vehicle” while she was walking through a gas station parking lot after he had followed her there after a fight, according to the criminal complaint. The woman was hospitalized for her injuries, court records show.
Brooks posted $1,000 bond on Nov. 11 in the most recent incident and was released from Milwaukee County Jail on Nov. 16, according to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. He also was charged in July 2020 with two felony counts of second-degree recklessly endangering the safety of others using a dangerous weapon. Both cases are ongoing.
The recent $1,000 bail recommended by prosecutors, and accepted by the court commissioner, was “inappropriately low” given the nature of the charges, according to a statement Monday from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, led by District Attorney John Chisholm.
The bail also was not consistent with the office’s approach to cases “involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail,” the statement read.
“This office is currently conducting an internal review of the decision to make the recent bail recommendation in this matter in order to determine the appropriate next steps.”
An attorney representing Brooks in his current Milwaukee County case declined to answer questions about the most recent charge there. The attorney, Joseph Domask, told the Journal Sentinel he is not representing him in the Waukesha incident.
Authorities have not publicly disclosed what they believe was the man’s motivation. One law enforcement source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the man had been involved in an earlier incident on Sunday, possibly also related to domestic abuse, just before the parade carnage occurred.
Waukesha police are expected to release more information at a news conference this afternoon.
Dozens of witness videos showed a red SUV hurtling through the parade and appeared to show the vehicle hitting members of the Waukesha South High School Blackshirt Band, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and a children’s dance group.
Early Monday morning, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies confirmed some of their members had died.
“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed … joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue … held us together,” the organization’s post on Facebook reads.
Formed in 1984, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are a choreographed dance and pom-pom group that performs in about 25 parades each year, according to its website. The group rehearses their routines weekly.
Also on Monday, Children’s Wisconsin released a statement saying staff had treated 18 children who were injured at the parade.
Earlier, authorities said 11 adults and 12 children were ferried to local hospitals. Others were taken by friends and family. Children’s Wisconsin hospital said it had 15 patients and no fatalities. Aurora Medical Center-Summit, a hospital in Waukesha County, confirmed they were treating 13 patients early Monday morning.
The United for Waukesha Community Fund has been created a fund to those affected by the tragedy, according to a Twitter post late Sunday from Amy Linder, CEO and president of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.
The group partnered with the Waukesha Education Foundation and the Waukesha County Community Foundation to create the fund. People can make donations through the Waukesha Community Foundation at waukeshafoundation.org/parade.
Correction: An earlier post contained inaccurate information about when the suspect had been released from custody in Milwaukee County Jail, citing online court records. This article has been updated with information from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail.
Sophie Carson, Evan Casey, Cathy Kozlowicz, Mary Spicuzza and Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.