Waukesha police on Monday identified Darrell E. Brooks Jr. as the suspect in the Christmas parade incident that killed five people and injured nearly 50 others.
Authorities are expecting to forward five counts of first-degree intentional homicide and additional charges to prosecutors.
Here is what we know about him:
Background information on Brooks
Brooks is 39 years old and lives in the Rufus King neighborhood on Milwaukee’s north side. He has family in Waukesha County.
A woman who had a child with Brooks described him as an absent father who is “not involved in our lives in any capacity.”
Neighbors said they frequently saw Brooks and his car parked outside of his home but rarely interacted with him beyond a quick hello.
What preceded the Waukesha incident
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks was involved in a “domestic disturbance” before he drove into the parade route. A knife was reportedly involved, but police had not confirmed that as of Monday afternoon.
Thompson said a police chase did not precede the car plowing into a crowd of paradegoers and there was no sign the event was an act of domestic terrorism. Thompson said he would not discuss possible motives at this point.
Brooks is accused of running someone over with his car earlier this month
Brooks’ prior criminal history includes two instances where someone was run over, or thought they were about to be, while Brooks was behind the wheel.
According to court records:
In 2011, Brooks was pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt in Milwaukee. He initially gave police a false name, and when an officer asked him again to identify himself, Brooks turned on his vehicle and put it in drive.
The officer feared Brooks was going to run him over, so he jumped in the vehicle with Brooks and wrestled for control of the car as it moved. Eventually, the officer was able to stop the car and remove the keys, but Brooks ran off.
He was later found hiding in a children’s playhouse. Police used pepper spray and a Taser on him twice while trying to restrain him.
Brooks pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in that case.
Less than three weeks before the Waukesha incident, on Nov. 2, Brooks visited a woman who was staying at an American Inn in Milwaukee. He knocked on the door while yelling and using profanity.
The woman answered and tried moving past Brooks, but he snatched her phone and drove off with it.
Later, when the woman was walking to a gas station on the 7300 block of West Capitol Drive, Brooks rolled up by her and demanded she get in the car. She refused and he punched her in the face.
The woman then began walking away, but Brooks ran her over with his car in the parking lot of the gas station. She was hospitalized for her injuries.
Brooks was charged with two felonies, including second-degree recklessly endangering safety, and three misdemeanors, including battery and disorderly conduct with domestic abuse assessments.
Brooks posted a $1,000 cash bail and was released Nov. 16, according to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. The bail, which was recommended by prosecutors, was called “inappropriately low” given the nature of the charges, according to a statement from the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office.
When was Brooks last in custody?
Brooks posted the $1,000 bail on Nov. 11 and was released from Milwaukee County Jail on Nov. 16.
From there, he was immediately taken into the custody of Waukesha County Sheriff's Department, where he had a hold in a paternity case, according to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office.
He was booked in Waukesha County and released that same day, Nov. 16, the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department confirmed.
Brooks has a lengthy criminal history
Since 1999, Brooks has been charged with 10 crimes, beginning with a felony count of inflicting substantial bodily harm against another person. Brooks was 17 at the time and pleaded guilty.
In 2012 he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor and felony counts of possession of THC, along with a count of bail jumping, in separate cases.
In July 2020, Brooks was charged with two felony counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and felony bail jumping.
According to the criminal complaint, Brooks got into a physical fight with his nephew at the home where Brooks stayed. Afterward, the nephew climbed into his car with a friend of his to leave, but Brooks fired a handgun toward the car.
Brooks was arrested the next day and police located a gun that was reported stolen. His bail was reduced from $10,000 to $7,500, according to online court records.
With Brooks in custody, prosecutors were prepared to go forward with his jury trial in February. But because another jury trial was ongoing in the same court, the case was postponed.
Brooks’ bail was then dropped to $500 after hearing arguments from Brooks’ attorney, online records show. He posted that bail Feb. 21.
Records show he also is a registered sex offender in Nevada after he was convicted of statutory sexual seduction in November 2006, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Darrell Brooks Jr. is the Waukesha Christmas Parade suspect