The suspect who is accused of plowing into a Christmas parade in Waukesha had been released on bail just a few days before the deadly attack, on charges of driving over an ex-partner.
Darrell Edward Brooks, 39, was taken into custody on Sunday night shortly after a red Ford Escape SUV drove into a the parade in the Wisconsin city, killing five and injuring 48 people, including 18 children aged 3 to 16.
Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson said Mr Brooks would be charged with five counts of intentional first-degree homicide, and further charges were likely.
Mr Thompson said police were called to a domestic disturbance involving Mr Brooks just before the tragedy occurred, but he had left the scene in his SUV before they arrived.
He drove towards the parade route before smashing through a police barricade and colliding with marchers at high speed on Waukesha’s Main Street at 4.39pm local time.
According to criminal record searches, Mr Brooks was a longtime felon whose offending dated back to 1999. He has convictions for drug and firearm possession, strangulation, battery and resisting arrest, has been sentenced to two prison terms, and spent years on probation and under court supervision.
On 2 November, Mr Brooks was arrested on domestic violence charges after he allegedly tried to run over the mother of his child.
He was charged with recklessly endangering safety, felony bail jumping, battery, obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct.
Brooks posted the $1,000 bond and was released on 11 November.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm released a statement on Monday morning to say the bail recommendation was “inappropriately low” in light of his criminal record and the active charges against him.
He said the bail recommendations were “not consistent” with his office’s approach on defendant’s facing violent crime charges and he would be undertaking an internal review of the decision.
Mr Brooks was also facing active charges of recklessly endangering safety and possession of a firearm as a felon in July 2020.
In that case bail was initially set at $10,000 before being reduced to $7,500. Mr Brooks remained in custody until 9 February 2021, when he was released on $500 bail after the trial was delayed.
He is also listed as a tier two sexual offender on Nevada’s sex offender register for a 1996 conviction for statutory sexual seduction.
Mr Brooks was an amateur rapper who released several videos to YouTube under the stage name MathBoi Fly.
In a song named “Half a Tikket”, which was taken down by YouTube, Mr Brooks’ SUV appears onscreen behind him.
His songs frequently reference extreme violence and show automatic weapons, and he has threatened former presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama in his lyrics.
In since-deleted social media accounts, Mr Brooks described himself as an “underground hip-hop recording artist”.
Mr Brooks had also been posting on social media about the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, which concluded in Kenosha on Friday about 50 miles south of Waukesha.
But police have ruled out any link to the Rittenhouse trial, and said it was not a terrorism incident.
Police squads were seen outside Brooks’ home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Sunday night, where his damaged SUV was parked in a driveway.
Five people aged between 52 and 79 – including three members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies – died and 48 were injured after Mr Brooks drove through police barricades and into the Christmas parade.
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