christmas parade tragedy

Suspect in Wisconsin Christmas Parade Tragedy Faces Pending Intentional Homicide Charges

Court records indicate the suspect, Darrell Brooks, 39, bonded out of jail on Friday after a Nov. 5 arrest

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Intentional homicide charges were pending Monday against a Milwaukee man who drove into a crowd at a Christmas parade, killing at least five people and injuring 48 others, authorities said.

Police are referring five counts of first degree intentional homicide against Darrell Brooks, 39, to the Waukesha County District Attorney's Office, Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson said, noting additional charges could be brought as the investigation progresses.

Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper told NBC News that no determination has been made on the specific charges and counts Brooks will face. She noted that under Wisconsin state law, authorities can hold an individual in custody for 48 hours before filing charges.

Brooks is expected in court at 4 p.m. Tuesday for his initial appearance, Opper said.

Authorities say Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance Sunday, minutes prior to intentionally driving his maroon SUV through barricades and into a crowd that assembled for the city's Christmas Parade.

Thompson said officers were not pursuing the suspect when he entered the parade route, however, an officer did fire a shot to try to stop him but ceased firing because of the danger to others.

Law enforcement sources also told NBC News Brooks was involved in a domestic stabbing incident before the crash.

One day after an SUV plowed through a crowd at the Waukesha Christmas Parade, doctors at Children’s Wisconsin Hospital-Milwaukee announced during a press conference that 18 kids were brought to the hospital’s children’s emergency department because of the incident. 

The exact circumstances surrounding that incident weren't clear, and it was unknown if police were seeking additional suspects.

Authorities aren't looking for anyone else in connection with the vehicle incident, the sources said.

Though no charges have officially been filed, NBC 5 Investigates uncovered the suspect's lengthy criminal history in Wisconsin. Court records indicate he recently bonded out of jail after a Nov. 5 arrest for resisting a police officer, bail jumping, 2nd degree recklessly endangering public safety, domestic abuse and battery.

The Milwaukee District Attorney's office said Monday it had requested a cash bail of $1,000, which was granted by the court, a decision the office now says is under review.

"The state’s bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks," the office said in a statement, in part. "The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office toward matters involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail."

One a year ago, the suspect faced charges of recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm while convicted of a felony. He was due to appear in court on that charge on Dec. 20.

Court records show he has spent hundreds of days in jail, mostly on drug and assorted minor charges, and his arrests date back to the '90s. But in February of 2010, he pleaded guilty to charges in Wood County of strangulation and suffocation of an unnamed victim.

In one of his oldest cases, in 1999, when he was just 17 years old, he was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to felony substantial battery with intended bodily harm. 

He was once jailed for being in arrears on child support. During the pendency of that case, he said he had failed to pay because he was serving a six-year sentence out of state. The Wisconsin court records do not list that case.

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