A man drove his pickup truck into a crowd of spectators Saturday at the start of the Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade and Festival in what some witnesses described as an intentional act — although police had not ruled out an accident.
One person is dead and another is expected to survive, officials said.
Fort Lauderdale Police spokeswoman Detective Ali Adamson declined to say whether the driver, who is in custody, was arrested or will face charges.
The driver and the victims were all members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, according to chorus President Justin Knight.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are affected, said Knight, who was not at the scene but recognized the driver from video. Our fellow chorus members were those injured, and the driver was a part of the chorus family. … To my knowledge it was an accident. This was not an attack on the LGBTQ community.
Knight declined to reveal the driver’s identity. Video posted to Twitter by a WPLG-Ch. 10 reporter appeared to show the driver being taken into custody wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of the chorus on the back.
The Stonewall Parade and Festival is an LGBTQ Pride event, attracting hundreds of spectators and participants. Many local small businesses closed their doors to participate in the parade, which was canceled.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom and Adamson said the FBI is joining the investigation.
Asked whether the crash was deliberate, Lagerbloom said: I don’t want to comment. We need to let the police do a fair and impartial investigation, and I don’t want to impact it.
In the immediate aftermath, a distraught Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis called it a terrorist attack against the LGBTQ community. This was clearly no accident. He said he was shaken by what he witnessed.
The driver jumped out of the truck immediately after the crash and the police grabbed him, Trantalis said. He was screaming vulgarities.
Others, who did not know the driver, agreed it appeared to be intentional.
We were at the start of the parade, right in front of Fort Lauderdale High School, said spectator Christina Currie, who was there with her husband, their 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. All of a sudden there was a loud revving of a truck and a crash through a fence. It was definitely an intentional act right across the lanes of traffic.
A paradegoer from Naples, David Banter, said he saw the crash. Sixty or 70 people were in the area when the truck plowed into the crowd, he said.
The truck revved up real fast and just took off, he said. He described the driver as an older gentleman.
Banter ran to one of the fallen people to give first aid.
I’m in shock that something like this had to happen, he said. Obviously someone lost their life so it hurts.
The police response was immediate. Drew Segura, the general manager of the Le Boy bar on 13th Street, said cop cars lit up the minute the truck hit the two people.
Segura’s float was slightly behind the dignitaries at the front of the parade when the crash occurred.
It’s sad and tragic this has to happen when you are trying to celebrate equality, he said.
Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton said the parade was immediately canceled out of respect for the victims and so police could start an thorough investigation.
Currie described the incident as a tragic twist to an event her family came to support.
The kids are obviously extremely upset, said Currie. They don’t understand why someone would do this.