One person was killed and another injured when a truck drove into a crowd gathered for a pride parade near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The city mayor said the incident was a deliberate attack, targeting a congresswoman.
The incident occurred just as the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade kicked off on Saturday evening. A white pickup truck sped up, reportedly in the direction of the car of Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but instead crashed into a business and hit two people, one of whom did not survive their injuries.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who was present at the parade, told local media that the suspected assailant’s car missed the lawmaker’s vehicle “by inches” before it “smashed through a gate, smashed into a landscaping company, and hit two people.”
A video shared on social media shows police officers rounding up a man wearing a white T-shirt and black glasses at the scene.
Breaking: A person has died after a truck hit two people at the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors, Florida. The Fort Lauderdale mayor says that the incident was a ‘terrorist attack’ against the LGBT community. pic.twitter.com/Gk5p7aOnsg
While the Broward County Sheriff’s Office reported that two people were “struck by a vehicle” when marching to celebrate “inclusion and equality,” they stopped short of saying if the incident was a premeditated attack.
“What started as a celebration quickly turned to tragedy at today’s Stonewall Pride Parade. Though authorities are still gathering information, we know two individuals marching to celebrate inclusion and equality were struck by a vehicle. pic.twitter.com/ZWcQfO9wky
However, the mayor appeared to have little doubt that the collision was intentional.
“This was a terrorist attack against the LGBT communities. This is exactly what it is,” Trantalis said. “It was deliberate, it was premeditated and it was targeted against this specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but, unfortunately, they hit two other people,” he added.
Although the mayor claimed that the incident was a premeditated attack on the LGBT community, preliminary information suggests otherwise. The driver of the truck that hit the two men was a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, the group’s president told media, and the vehicle was actually part of the parade.
“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family,” the group’s leader, Justin Knight, said in a statement. “To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community.”
Wasserman Schultz, who was attending the event in a convertible, looked visibly distressed in wake of the incident.
Photos from the scene where a truck drove into a crowd taking part in The Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival in Wilton Manors. Rep. Wasserman Schultz is seen reacting to the incident. @SunSentinelpic.twitter.com/UAIaa7yRTe
On Twitter, the congresswoman said that she was “deeply shaken and devastated” by the loss of life at the parade, while expressing gratitude to law enforcement and rescue workers that rushed to the site.
The parade was canceled to allow a “thorough investigation” and out of respect to the victims, the city announced. However, the Stonewall festival is set to continue, police confirmed, declaring that there was “no danger to the public.”
Due to a tragic event, the Stonewall Pride Parade has been cancelled but the festival events will continue. *THERE IS NO DANGER TO THE PUBLIC.* https://t.co/als3T0MG4m
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