An amateur rapper has been identified as the man behind the wheel of a car that ploughed into a Christmas parade, as police investigate whether he was fleeing another crime scene.
US police will allege Darrell Edward Brooks Jr drove the red four-wheel-drive that hit and killed five people and injured at least 48 others in the state of Wisconsin.
Speaking from the town of Waukesha early on Tuesday (Australian time), police Chief Dan Thompson announced officials were seeking to have Mr Brooks charged with five counts of intentional homicide.
Children were among the critically injured fighting for life in hospital, police said.
“At this time, the Waukesha Police Department is referring five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, with additional charges based on the investigation,” Mr Thompson said.
The police chief said Mr Brooks was linked to the scene of a crime that occurred “just minutes” before the ramming on Sunday (local time).
“We have information that the suspect … was involved in a domestic disturbance which was just minutes prior and the suspect left that scene just prior to our arrival to that domestic disturbance,” Mr Thompson said.
Police confirmed officers had fired shots towards the car as it drove towards the crowd after crashing through street barriers in Waukesha, about 30 kilometres west of Milwaukee.
“When the suspect was driving through and into the crowd, one officer did discharge his firearm and fire shots at the suspect to stop the threat,” Mr Thompson said, before adding that police stopped firing “due to the amount of people”.
The 39-year-old Mr Brooks, who goes by the alias MathBoi Fly, has previously been filmed dancing in front of a red Ford 4WD for his music video, which was posted to YouTube.
In one video posted on social media shortly after the ramming at the parade, a red 4WD, thought to be a Ford Escape, appeared to speed toward marchers from behind.
‘Dancing grannies’ among victims
Authorities have identified the victims who were killed in the ramming.
“Milwaukee Dancing Grannies” posted a statement on Facebook, confirming members of the group were among the dead.
“Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness,” the group of grandmothers wrote.
“While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.
“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed … joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together.”
US President Joe Biden condemned the “horrific act of violence” as he offered prayers for the community.
“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,” Mr Biden said.
“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.”