Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden on Monday mourned the lives lost in a deadly incident at a Wisconsin holiday parade, calling the violence a tragedy that has left a community struggling to understand what has happened.
At least five are dead and 40 others injured after a man drove his vehicle through the Waukesha, Wisconsin, holiday parade. Biden — who has been briefed multiple times on the incident and is closely monitoring the response — said he and his family are praying for the community.
“Last night, the people of Waukesha were gathered to celebrate the start of a season of hope, togetherness and thanksgiving,” Biden said at the White House. “This morning, Jill and I — and the entire Biden family and I’m sure all of us — pray that that same spirit is going to embrace and lift up all the victims of this tragedy, bringing comfort to those recovering from the injuries and wrapping the families of those that die in the support of their community.”
The city’s live stream of the parade showed a marching band had just started playing “Jingle Bells” when a red SUV barreled into the parade from behind. At least 18 children were hospitalized after the incident, said Children’s Wisconsin, a pediatric hospital in nearby Milwaukee. There are indications the driver was fleeing another incident when he drove into the parade route, according to multiple law enforcement sources familiar with preliminary investigation findings.
So far, there is no known connection to international or domestic terrorism, and it does not appear to be connected to the recent verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the sources said.
Authorities have not released any details of the five people killed, but the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies said some members of the group were among the victims.
Biden thanked first responders for their “extraordinary work” and the “emergency room doctors who are working around the clock to deal with the terrible consequences of what happened last night.”
“While we don’t have all the facts and details yet, we know this morning that five families in Waukesha are facing fresh grief of a life without a loved one,” Biden said at the start of an event announcing that he has picked Jerome Powell for another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. “At least 40 Americans are suffering from injuries, some of them in critical condition and an entire community is struggling, struggling to cope with the horrific act of violence.”
In the hours following the attack, lawmakers extended their condolences to those affected by the incident even as little information was available.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, tweeted Sunday, “The horrific violence at the Waukesha Christmas Parade is just heartbreaking. Please keep the victims in your prayers tonight.”
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers for everyone injured in Waukesha’s Christmas parade. My gratitude for all law enforcement, medical personnel, and community members who are responding.”
Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican whose district includes Waukesha, tweeted, “I’m praying for the safety of all those impacted by the senseless tragedy in Waukesha this evening. If you are searching for family, please go to the Waukesha Metro Center, 212 E Saint Paul Ave. I continue to monitor the situation as full details come to light and I’m thankful for all of the first responders who are answering the call for help.”
Other members of the Wisconsin delegation from both sides of the aisle,, including Reps. Tom Tiffany, Bryan Steil and Ron Kind, extended prayers.
Outside of Wisconsin, congressional leaders offered sympathies for the community, first responders, victims and their families.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York tweeted, “We’re praying for the victims of horrific violence at the Waukesha Christmas Parade.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said, “Our hearts are broken tonight watching the terrible news coming out of Waukesha.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana tweeted, “Praying for the entire Waukesha, Wisconsin community right now. Our hearts are broken for the victims and their families. Appreciate all the law enforcement officers and paramedics for their swift and brave response.”
GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York called for prayer “for the community of Waukesha and especially for the individuals and families impacted from today’s tragic news. Thank you to the law enforcement and first responders who quickly answered the call to serve their community.”