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‘Not fitting their narrative’: Waukesha feels abandoned after tragic parade attack

WAUKESHA, Wis. — For her whole life, 67-year-old Sharon Millard was so shy she used to ask her identical twin sister to go on dates in her place in high school.

But ever since Nov. 21, when Darrell Brooks allegedly plowed into dozens of people at the Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injuring up to 60 others, Millard has felt compelled to speak about the atrocity she witnessed.

One of the people killed was Millard’s fellow “Dancing Granny” — 79-year-old Virginia “Ginny” Sorenson — who was tossed up in the air like a rag doll by Brooks’s SUV, police say.

“No one ever saw him coming,” Millard told The Post. “He was going so fast. All I knew is I saw Ginny fly up in the air and land in front of me. I saw her curled up and blood was coming out of her like a river. I was standing in blood.”

Brooks is a violent 39-year-old career criminal, registered sex offender and amateur rapper from north Milwaukee with a rap sheet going back to 1999, who allegedly punched the mother of his child in the face early last month and then drove over her, leaving tire marks on her leg. Despite the severity of that crime, he was released five days before the Waukesha rampage on a cash bail of just $1,000 set by liberal Milwaukee County prosecutors.

“He can be a quiet dude,” Brooks’ Milwaukee neighbor Willie Bates told The Post. “But he can also be a bad dude.”

Brooks bounced between his mother’s house in a rough area on Milwaukee’s north side and those of various girlfriends, one 20 miles away in Waukesha. When staying with his mom, he frequented neighborhood hangouts on Capitol Drive like Teutonia Liquors, JJ Fish & Chicken and the run-down Big Man’s Place bar — where the owners peer out from locked doors and cheap surveillance cameras before letting customers inside.

Darrell Brooks allegedly drove a car into a crowd of Waukesha townsfolk. Soon after, posts on his Facebook page calling for violence against white people were deleted.

Screenshots of Brooks’ Facebook page, under his MathBoi Fly rapper handle, were mysteriously deleted right after the parade murders, and showed that he had praised Hitler, backed Black Lives Matter — and called for violence against white people.

“So when we start bakk knokkin white people TF out ion wanna hear it…the old white ppl 2, KNOKK DEM TF OUT!! PERIOD,” he wrote under his rap name, MathBoi Fly, along with a middle-finger emoji. 

Brooks’ case has now become a cause célèbre, not in the mainstream media, which was slammed for initially saying the deadly attack was caused by “a car” that drove into the parade, but by an increasing chorus of influential podcasters like Joe Rogan and online pundits who claim Brooks and his victims in Waukesha have been “swept under the carpet” by the press because it doesn’t fit their agenda.

The growing outcry may be why it was announced Saturday that First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will visit Waukesha on Wednesday. Though bordering ultra-Democrat Milwaukee County, Waukesha County is a Republican stronghold.

After being released on just $1,000 cash bail for allegedly running over the mother of his child earlier this month, Brooks is now being held in Waukesha County Jail, charged with six counts of intentional homicide.
After being released on just $1,000 cash bail for allegedly running over the mother of his child earlier this month, Brooks is now being held in Waukesha County Jail, charged with six counts of intentional homicide.
AP

Brooks’ mother, Dawn Woods, released a letter to the media Dec. 1 saying Brooks was mentally ill and hadn’t “been given the help and resources he needed.” An ex-girlfriend who had a son with Brooks 20 years ago told The Post that he has bipolar disorder.

According to one law enforcement source, Brooks had an erratic history and may have some mental illness, but he also fits the profile of a hardened — and entitled — criminal. The source added that Wisconsin does not lack for mental health services.

The massacre happened just two days after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of reckless homicide and intentional homicide after he fatally shot two people and injured another in Kenosha, which is just 52 miles south of Waukesha.

Milwaukee DA John Chisholm’s office released Brooks on $1,000 bail though he had the highest score on a risk assessment test.
Milwaukee DA John Chisholm’s office released Brooks on $1,000 cash bail. Now state lawmakers are calling for his ouster.
Milwaukee County DA Office

Some locals told The Post they wonder if Brooks was influenced by the outcry over Rittenhouse’s acquittal — especially given his social media posts — maybe to the point of driving into the parade.

Brooks was apparently driving away from another domestic violence episode on the day of the murders but cops said they were not pursuing him. He drove the car in a “zig-zag motion” so as to “strike and hurt as many people as possible” — not unlike the terrorist who drove a truck in a zig zag fashion into a beachside Bastille Day celebration Nice, France, in July 2016, killing 84 people.

“We’ve got six people dead and teenagers so badly injured they will have to learn to walk again — at Christmas,” State Rep. Cindi Duchow, a Waukesha resident and Republican, told The Post.

Townsfolk say Brooks' SUV sped through the crowd so fast, no one could see it coming.
Townsfolk say Brooks’ SUV sped through the crowd so fast, no one could see it coming.
Jesus Ochoa via REUTERS

Said Duchow: “Because this was a black guy who did it, the media doesn’t want to cover it. They were all over the Rittenhouse case because that kid was white. Race doesn’t matter to us here, but the media makes everything about race.” 

Some state lawmakers from the Waukesha area are outraged by the decision of Milwaukee DA John Chisholm’s office to release Brooks on $1,000 bail even though he had the highest score on a risk assessment test.

Chisholm’s office put out a statement after the parade attack, admitting that the state’s bail recommendation was “inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks.”

Parade goers rush to help the maimed and murdered after Brooks’ alleged rampage.
Parade goers rush to help the maimed and murdered after Brooks’ alleged rampage.
Jordan Woynilko/Twitter

“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,” the statement added.

But state Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) was so disgusted by the low bail he has now begun a campaign to oust Chisholm on Dec. 6, by sending a letter to Gov. Tony Evers.

“The left was so sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse’s victims but they’re not saying a word about the victims here,” Kapenga said. “It’s not fitting their narrative. The reality is that this person [Brooks] is pure evil and the left’s soft-on-crime policies are blowing up in their face. But they want to ignore it and hope it goes away. Meanwhile the parents of the eight-year-old boy killed at the parade are having to face their first Christmas without him.”

Millard said Brooks’ skin color and the politics of the case don’t matter to her and shouldn’t matter to anyone. She only wishes she could forget the nightmare she and so many others at the parade experienced.

“He drove down the middle (of the parade) and aimed to get as many people as he could,” said Millard, who has been speaking out whenever she can, even on live TV shoots that terrify her.

“They should put him in a room and let us have a go at him. I think he deserves the death penalty. He will burn in hell.”

But Waukesha residents also admit they just don’t know why Brooks did what he did, and are wary of appearing racist.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said locals are slowly picking up the pieces.
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said locals are slowly picking up the pieces.
Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“We all have a backstory,” said Kristopher Mageske, 60, a regular at the Nice Ash cigar bar, the “Cheers” of Waukesha. “We all have reasons to screw up. If the guy [Brooks] needed help he could have gotten it. I’m a lot more concerned with the devastation he brought on this community. It’s not just the people he killed and injured, it’s all their relatives and loved ones being affected for years to come as well. Whatever I say I’ll look like some white supremacist, but you know what? I’m married to a Mexican-Indian woman, I have a son-in-law who’s black and three black grandchildren. Don’t label us here just because we’re conservative.”

Brooks gave no reason for his actions in a brief video interview from jail last month, saying only that he felt “dehumanized” and “demonized.”

“The motive is in the criminal complaint,” Waukesha Police Capt. Dan Baumann told The Post last week.

Baumann declined to elaborate, but officers recounted in the complaint how they yelled “Stop, stop the vehicle!” at Brooks multiple times and pounded on the hood of the car as it flew by. One officer said he saw Brooks “looking straight ahead…and it appeared he had no emotion on his face.”

Sharon Millard said she watched as her friend Virginia "Ginny" Sorenson, 79, was tossed up in the air like a rag doll. "I was standing in blood," she told The Post.
Sharon Millard said she watched as her friend Virginia “Ginny” Sorenson, 79, was tossed up in the air like a rag doll. “I was standing in blood,” she told The Post.
CJ Foeckler for NY Post

Brooks hit up to 60 people on purpose, say both cops and witnesses. He’s been charged with six counts of intentional homicide and sits in the Waukesha County Jail on $5 million bail. Two other Dancing Grannies, LeAnna Owen, 71, and Tamara Durand, 52, were killed along with William Hospel, 81, the husband of a Dancing Granny, and a bank employee named Jane Kulich, 52, who was walking alongside her company’s float. Jackson Sparks, eight, died from brain injuries two days after he was hit while marching with his baseball team in the parade. His brother, Tucker, 12, was also struck and injured but released from the hospital after being treated for a fractured skull. A relative of the Sparks family told The Post that Jackson’s parents did not want to speak publicly yet about their son.

Three injured children remain in fair condition at Children’s Hospital in Waukesha. Many other victims were released from the hospital but sustained life-changing injuries. One child’s limbs were almost ripped off, a hospital source told The Post.

Crystal Ruloff, a bartender at Nice Ash who was watching the parade from her apartment above the bar, says she will never forget seeing Brooks swerve from side to side as he roared down the street, picking off two people right in front of her eyes.

“It was absolutely horrible,” Ruloff told The Post. “There were bodies everywhere. I felt like I was watching something on TV and it wasn’t real. This kind of thing doesn’t happen in Waukesha.”

Jodi, who didn't want to giver her last name, takes a photo of a memorial at Veterans Park in Waukesha on Tuesday, Nov. 23, near the site of the rampage.
Jodi, who didn’t want to giver her last name, takes a photo of a memorial at Veterans Park in Waukesha on Tuesday, Nov. 23, near the site of the rampage.
Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Waukesha’s charming Main Street, where the parade attack took place, resembles a sort of post-modern Mayberry RFD. Splashes of bleach are visible on the street, covering the blood spilled on Nov. 21. Blue lights can be seen in house windows all over at night, part of a “Unite with a Blue Light” campaign sponsored by the city.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said locals are slowly picking up the pieces.

“It’s taken away some of our innocence, ” Reilly said. “I don’t think we’ll ever feel the same about going to the parade. We feel great sadness for those affected. Some of the injuries were terrible. A lot of people were run over by cars so there are a lot of head injuries. A lot saw the carnage right in front of them. We are going to be dealing with this for a long time.”

Waukesha Police Capt. Baumann, a native son, sounded a more hopeful note. He said the outpouring of donations and support for Waukesha and its victims has “actually unified us.”

Spray paint surrounds the area where a woman who was a member of the Dancing Grannies died after she was hit during the parade.
Spray paint surrounds the area where a woman who was a member of the Dancing Grannies died after she was hit during the parade.
James Keivom

“It’s been horrific,” he said. “But it’s also brought us closer together. It’s really helped us to hear from ordinary people all over the world and it will help us heal.”

Millard now spends her days working as a teacher’s aide, practicing “Dancing Granny” routines, being with her husband and daughter, and talking on the phone with her twin sister in California — but she still has her doubts the town can recover. She said she started to fall apart at work the other day.

“I can’t stop seeing Ginny dying in front of me in my head,” she said. “I know I’m not the only one who was affected like that. I can’t imagine us getting over this.”

 



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