WILTON MANORS — A man drove a pickup truck into a crowd at a Florida Pride parade on Saturday, reportedly killing at least one person and critically injuring another.
Both men, the driver and the victim, are members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, the organization’s president told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The incident took place during the start of the Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade and Festival.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are affected,” said president Justin Knight, who was not at the scene but said he recognized the driver from video taken afterward. “Our fellow chorus members were those injured, and the driver was a part of the chorus family ...”
Knight said he believed the incident was an accident but did not disclose the name of the driver. An unidentified official told WFOR-TV that authorities also believe it may be an accident, saying the driver told officers his foot got stuck stuck between the gas pedal and the brake and he lost control.
The truck had a Pride flag on it an appeared to be part of the parade. The driver appeared to be wearing a white T-shirt with the chorus’ rainbow “FTLGMC” logo, according to video from the scene and the Sun-Sentinel.
WPLG-TV reported that the pickup driver was taken into custody. The TV station posted a video to Twitter that showed officers walking a handcuffed man to a police cruiser and placing him inside.
Immediately after the incident, several witnesses told reporters at the scene that the pickup driver appeared to intentionally drive into spectators and narrowly avoided injuring more people.
The incident took place in front of several South Florida public officials. Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said on Twitter that he and members of his staff witnessed the incident and were close to the crash scene.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told WPLG-TV that he was walking with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch when they saw a white pickup truck that “dashed right through the crowd.” The truck missed a vehicle carrying U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz “by inches,” the mayor said, smashed through a gate and struck several people.
“He jumped out of the truck and the police grabbed him,” Trantalis told the Sun-Sentinel. “He was screaming vulgarities.”
Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Ali Adamson would not say whether the say whether the driver was arrested late Saturday or will face charges, according to the Sun-Sentinel. No agency released the names of the driver and those who were killed and injured in the incident.
The other injured person was taken to Broward Health Medical Center for medical treatment and were listed in critical condition. A third person was hospitalized with injuries that were not related to the incident.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom told the Sun-Sentinel that the FBI will take part in the investigation.
This month marks five years since the single deadliest incident of violence perpetrated against LGTBQ people in the United States took place on June 12, 2016. A gunman attacked Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding 53.
David Banter of Naples told the Sun-Sentinel that there were up to 70 people in the area that the pickup drove into.
“The truck revved up real fast and just took off,” he said.
Christina Currie, who was attending the parade with her husband and their two elementary school aged children, gave this account to the Sun-Sentinel:
“We were at the start of the parade, right in front of Fort Lauderdale High School. 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.”
The Wilton Manors Police Department announced on Twitter that the festival was canceled but that there was no longer any danger to the public.
“A tragic incident occurred at today’s Stonewall event,” said a statement from Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton, according to WPLG-TV. “Out of respect for everyone involved, the parade has been canceled and a thorough investigation is being conducted.”