One man is dead and another is seriously injured but expected to survive after a man driving a truck slammed into a crowd of spectators Saturday evening at the beginning of the Wilton Manors, Fla,, Pride parade. The driver of the truck was taken into custody but officials have not identified him and have not said what if anything he is being charged with, according to reports by the Associated Press.
Wilton Manors is located just north of Fort Lauderdale.
Authorities also have not said whether they believe this was an accident or an intentional act. However, several witnesses at the scene, including Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Tantralis, have said they believe it was intentional. According to AP. Tantralis said he believes the incident was a “deliberate” attack against the LGBTQ community. Tantralis told WSVN-TV that the pickup truck driver acted like he was part of the parade but then suddenly accelerated when he was told he was next, crashing into the victims.
But reports by Local10.com indicate that the incident was instead a tragic accident. A photo on the Local10 website show police arresting an older white, bald man wearing a Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus t-shirt. And Justin Knight, the chorus’ president, told Local10 through a spokesman that both victims were and that the driver was “part of the chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community. We anticipate more details to follow and ask for the community’s love and support.”
AP reports that U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was set to ride in the parade in a convertible, and was seen in tears after the incident. In a statement Saturday night, Wasserman Schultz said she was “deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost. … I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration. May the memory of the life lost be for a blessing.”
In a statement posted to the city of Wilton Manors Facebook page, Mayor Scott Newton said, “A tragic incident occurred at today’s Stonewall event. Out of respect for everyone involved the parade has been cancelled and a thorough investigation is being conducted.”
— Tammye Nash