Waukesha SUV ‘killer’ Darrell Brooks appears in court to face murder charges as sixth victim dies
The man accused of killing six and injuring 62 when he drove his car into a Christmas parade in Wisconsin over the weekend appeared before a judge on Tuesday, as the court was told of his lengthy criminal history – and an 8-year-old child was added to the list of victims.
Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, the driver of the SUV that crashed into the crowd Sunday, made his first appearance in court Tuesday.
Brooks, dressed in a green sleeveless bulletproof vest, was seen rocking back and forth in his chair during the hearing, staring at the floor throughout.
Brooks has officially been charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, according to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office.
But during his court hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors said a sixth victim, a child, has also died. Family members identified him as Jackson Sparks.
Prosecutors said they will consider a sixth homicide charge due to the little boy’s death.
The court heard Tuesday that Brooks had multiple previous violent convictions, charges against him filed in three states and lengthy custody time in Georgia.
He had repeatedly failed to show up for court hearings, and a $5 million cash bail was suggested for Brooks – whom the court heard was insolvent.
The judge said it was ‘an extraordinarily high bail, but it’s an extraordinary case.’
He said that Brooks had a long history of not following ‘your societal norms’, and said the bail was warranted.
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Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, the driver of the SUV that crashed into the crowd Sunday, made his first appearance in court Tuesday
Brooks, dressed in a green sleeveless bulletproof vest, was seen rocking back and forth in his chair during the hearing, staring at the floor throughout
Darrell Brooks, 39, is ushered into court in Wisconsin on Tuesday for his bail hearing
Brooks is seen sitting to the right of the courtroom, wearing a white mask and green vest
The criminal complaint against Brooks, released on Tuesday, accused him of deliberately targeting people.
Detective Thomas Casey stated in the criminal complaint that he was on traffic duty at the parade, and stood in front of Brooks’s Ford Escape along the route.
Darrell Brooks, 39, is pictured in his November 16 booking photo, provided by Waukesha County Sheriffs Office
He said that he pounded on the hood of the vehicle as it came to a halt, and yelled: ‘Stop’.
Brooks ignored him, swerved past and continued driving.
Casey chased the vehicle and ‘observed the vehicle begin to drive faster,’ according to the complaint.
Casey radioed to alert other officers, ‘and a few seconds later heard on the police radio that the vehicle was striking people and was continuing westbound on East Main Street.’
Casey noted that Brooks hit parade participants and spectators.
He said three people died on the scene, and two later in hospital.
Officer Bryce Butryn, another traffic officer on the scene, said in the complaint that he also tried to get Brooks to stop, yelling at him and waving his hands.
Butryn estimated that Brooks was driving around 25mph.
‘Officer Butryn observed the driver looking straight ahead, directly at him, and it appeared he had no emotion on his face,’ the complaint states.
Butryn said that, as Brooks got closer to the parade, ‘speed was increasing’.
‘At this point, it was clear to Officer Butryn that this was an intentional act to strike and hurt as many people as possible.
‘He observed the vehicle appeared to be intentionally moving side to side, striking multiple people, and bodies and objects were flying from the area of the vehicle.’
Butryn ran after the vehicle, and people were begging him for help but he told them if the injured person was breathing, wait with them as ambulances were on the way.
A third officer, Bryce Scholten, shot at the vehicle three times.
Eyewitnesses confirmed to officers that the vehicle appeared to be intentionally hitting people.
‘As I continued to watch the SUV, it continued to drive in a zig zag motion,’ said one witness.
‘It was like the SUV was trying to avoid vehicles, not people.
‘There was no attempt made by the vehicle to slow down, much less stop.’
A second eyewitness said he thought it was ‘a direct intent to hit as many parade participants’.
Brooks’ hearing came as friends and families of the dozens of people, including many children, hit by an SUV that sped through a Christmas parade in a suburban Milwaukee downtown area Sunday say they suffered life-threatening injuries, with some clinging to life.
Eight-year-old Jackson Sparks died of his injuries in the hospital, it emerged on Tuesday.
His brother Tucker, 12, remains hospitalized with a fractured skull.
‘Tucker, by the grace of God is miraculously recovering from his injuries and will be being discharged home,’ the family said on a GoFundMe page.
Tucker Sparks, 12 (above), is pictured with his younger brother Jackson, aged eight, whose death was confirmed on Tuesday. Jackson is the youngest of the six victims from the Christmas parade tragedy
Jackson Sparks (right), aged eight, and his 12-year-old brother Tucker (left) were both injured by Brooks’s car, with the impact killing Jackson
Tucker (left) suffered a fractured skull and Jackson suffered severe head injuries in the tragedy
Five dancers who were injured during the incident remain in the ICU, according to a statement by the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team.
‘Our dancers have a multitude of serious physical injuries, of those, five dancers are currently in the ICU,’ the team posted in a statement on its Facebook page.
A young girl who is a member of a dance troupe struck by the SUV – a moment that was captured on cellphone video – woke up Monday and told doctors, ‘just glue me back together,’ according to her GoFundMe page organized by a family friend.
‘No child or parent should have to endure this amount pain and suffering,’ the girl’s mother, Amber Konhke, posted Tuesday afternoon.
The fundraising pleas detail the extent of some of the injuries from the incident that has left six dead so far and 62 others injured.
Konhke’s daughter Jessalyn is shown smiling directly at the camera on one GoFundMe page, wearing a white Santa hat and holding matching pompoms.
She is standing alongside other girls on the Waukesha Xtreme Dance team in a picture taken moments before she was struck.
Jessalyn is ‘fighting for her life,’ according to the fundraising account established by family friend Oscar Luna.
She lost a kidney, broke her pelvis and has damage to her liver and lungs, Luna said.
Items lie in the middle of a street in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Monday, where investigations continue after a vehicle slammed into a holiday parade the day before, killing several people and injuring multiple others
A broken children’s stroller lays on W. Main St. in downtown Waukesha
Police tape blocks off a street in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Monday
‘This holiday season will be a brutal one for them,’ he said of their family.
In an update posted Tuesday morning, Luna wrote that she had woken up briefly Monday.
‘She is not fully aware of the severity of her injuries but managed to say, `just glue me back together,´’ he wrote.
‘Only a child could reference themselves as a little doll in this situation.’
Julia, who was also marching with her dance team and whose last name also isn’t given, ‘is in the fight for her life,’ suffering from brain trauma after being hit, her fundraising page established by family friend Jen McCarthy says.
‘Everyone that knows this little girl knows what joy she brings to the world,’ the post says. ‘She has a heart of gold, a smile that can light up the room and is loved by so many.’
The Sparks brothers were among three sets of siblings hospitalized after being struck by the SUV, and they remain at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, according to an online fundraiser organized by a cousin.
Tucker, 12, has head injuries but is recovering, but Jackson, 8, suffered a more serious brain injury.
‘The entire family is devastated,’ said Alyssa Albro, the niece of the boys’ parents, Aaron and Sheri Sparks.
Aidan Laughrin, a senior at Waukesha South High School, was hit while performing with the marching band, suffering fractured ribs, according to an online fundraiser.
The family is ‘tough but the road ahead is going to be tough too, both physically and emotionally,’ the organizer posted.
Another band member, saxophonist Tyler Pudleiner, also was struck and has undergone two surgeries since Sunday.
‘He has a long road to recovery,’ wrote Joane Chmiel, one of two people raising money to help Pudleiner.
Tamara Rosentreter was doing what she loved, entertaining the crowd as part of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, when she was struck by the SUV that took the lives of three of her fellow dancers.
The mother of four and grandmother of one was the leader of the troupe, according to an online fundraiser seeking help for Rosenstreter’s recovery.
The organizer posted a message from Rosenstreter, who said ‘I’m still here. Lots of pain, stitches, broken bones and lots of bumps and bruises. Love you ALL.’
She described how a woman prayed for her at the scene ‘to help give me peace and comfort’ and how another kept her warm with a blanket.
‘This tragedy is so hard to wrap my head around,’ she said, saying her ‘heart aches’ for the victims and their families, those who witnessed the devastation and ‘for my teammates and their families who are my family.’
Lucero Isabel Perales says several family members were a part of the parade and were struck by the SUV.
That includes a cousin with skull fractures who is in a coma, an uncle who underwent six hours of surgery for a broken leg and another cousin with bruises all over her body.
‘This is a very hard time for all of us, it was something so unexpected,’ Isabel Perales wrote.
More than $787,000 had been raised by Tuesday afternoon for the 18 GoFundMe-verified pages for parade victims.
Another community fund for victims had raised more than $600,000 by Tuesday morning, said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly.
The Waukesha County Community Foundation said that fund had grown to more than $916,000 by Tuesday afternoon.
‘There’s so much outpouring of support,’ Reilly said.
‘It warms your heart to know that people are saying, ‘We support your community, we feel for you.”