LeAnna Owen: Dancing Granny, 71, who died in Waukesha tragedy was 'nicest lady'
Several witnesses have come forward and described the horror that unfolded on Sunday night, November 21, when a driver plowed into several marchers at a Wisconsin Christmas parade, killing five people and injuring over 40. According to Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson, the “suspect vehicle” was recovered after what is being called a mass casualty event. Investigators now have a “person of interest".
The person in custody has been identified as Darrell Edward Brooks Jr, who was found by the cops with the key to a Ford vehicle. The 39-year-old happens to be a career criminal and rapper who performs under the stage name MathBoi Fly. A red SUV, similar to the one that plowed onto the parade at Waukesha can be seen in one of his music videos.
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The victims of the tragedy who have died have been identified as Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, LeAnna Owen, 71, Virginia Sorenson, 79, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81. LeAnna Owen of Cudahy was an enthusiastic member of the Dancing Grannies. She also managed an apartment complex. Dave Schmidt, who owns the two 32-unit buildings Owen managed, said, "She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She was the nicest lady. She was the glue that kept that apartment complex running for us. She will be sorely missed.” Before managing the properties on South Packard Avenue for about 10 years, Owen had lived at another property Schmidt’s family-owned.
The MIlwaukee Dancing Grannies is an award-winning group formed in 1984. The group performs in about 25 parades each year from Memorial Day to Christmas. The group, which has won a number of trophies, is known for its enthusiasm and smiles. "These grannies practice once a week almost year-round to strive for their best performance. The only requirement for membership is to be a grandmother. Their ages range from the early fifties to the mid-seventies! The count is ever-changing, but they boast of approximately 100 grandchildren and even a few great-grandchildren," Milwaukee Dancing Grannies' website claims.
In a Facebook post, the Dancing Grannies confirmed that their team members were among those who were killed. "The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are devasted by this terrible tragedy with of loss of life and injuries in the Waukesha Christmas parade," the post reads. "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. 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. Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time, as more information and updates become available it will be posted . Please keep them their families, friends, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and everyone who lives have forever changed in your thoughts and prayers," adds the post.