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Nearly 500 people gathered for prayer vigil to honor victims in Waukesha's Christmas parade incident

Teran Powell
Vigil attendees kneel in front of five crosses, one for each person confirmed dead at the time of the vigil.

Darrell Brooks was charged Tuesday in the deaths of five people who were killed when an SUV drove through the Waukesha Christmas parade Sunday night.

On Monday night, hundreds of people gathered at Cutler Park for a prayer vigil for the five killed and the dozens injured. Several faith leaders took turns saying prayers for a city shaken by tragedy.

Pardeep Kaleka, the executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, was one of them.

"God in all things, God in all people, we pray for all those who have suffered and continue to suffer right now. Those who saw and experienced unimaginable tragedy and hurt last night," said Kaleka.

The Interfaith Conference, the Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network, and the Association of Waukesha Congregations hosted the vigil.

At least 400 people gathered near the bandshell to hear faith leaders, law enforcement and first responders and to offer condolences, talk about moving forward, and recognize people for stepping up to help their neighbors to safety on Sunday.

Five white crosses stood at the foot of the stage in honor of the lives lost. The crosses were surrounded by candles and flowers.

Teran Powell
Five white crosses honoring the lives of those killed at Waukesha's annual Christmas parade were surrounded by flowers and candles.

Bill Gunderson said he’s doing okay after Sunday’s events, but his heart goes out to all those who are not. He’s the pastor at a nearby church and said many of the congregants were at the parade.

Gunderson was leaving his son’s basketball game when the incident happened. He said he was shocked — and at the same time, not shocked — that this happened.

"As I'm just processing it today...even last night, but today especially, it's like 'man why,'" said Gunderson. "Why am I so surprised? You know? Like this is, it's sad to say, it’s sad to admit. I don't like talking or thinking like this, but this is like, this is how the world is."

Gunderson said the situation is terribly sad.

But even in sadness, Kaiyael Gardner Mishlove said she’s happy to see the community coming together. She’s the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

"I [see] that community members are wrapping arms around each other and I'm hoping and praying for the full recovery of the victims and the healing of the community," said Gardner." And a lot of prayers for the bereaved members of family members who were lost."

Gardner Mishlove said the best way to move forward is for the community to love and support one another to overcome this tragic event.

Teran Powell joined WUWM in the fall of 2017 as the station’s very first Eric Von Fellow.
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