One person has died and two are injured after being run over by a truck in Wilton Manors at the start of the Stonewall Pride Parade.
Saturday’s crash at the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade initially drew speculation, including from Mayor Dean Trantalis of nearby Fort Lauderdale, that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.
However, Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli said the early investigation shows it was an accident. The driver was taken into custody, but it was unclear whether he had been charged.
Trantalis, who was an eyewitness to “the horrifying events,” initially described it as a terrorist attack on the LGBTQ+ community, according to WSVN-TV. In a follow-up statement, Trantalis said the incident “terrorized” him and all around him.
“I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away,” he said.
The latest picture suggests it was an accident in which a truck careened out of control, he added.
The driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, according to a statement from the group’s president, Justin Knight.
“To my knowledge it was an accident. This was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” Knight said in the statement. “We anticipate more details to follow and ask for the community’s love and support.”
The crash took place on the southwest corner of NE 15th Street and NE 4th Avenue, according to WSVN-TV.
Some witnesses said the crash appeared to be an intentional act, but Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Ali Adamson told reporters that authorities were investigating all possibilities.
Trantalis said a driver of a pickup truck suddenly accelerated when he was told he was next in the parade, crashing into the victims, according to WSVN-TV. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Trantalis said he believed the crash was “deliberate.”
Police said the driver was taken into custody, but it was unclear whether he had been charged.
Photos and video from the scene showed Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in tears while in a convertible at the parade.
In a statement Saturday night, Wasserman Schultz said she was safe but “deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost.”
“I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration,” she said. “May the memory of the life lost be for a blessing.”
Spectator Christina Currie told the South Florida SunSentinel that she was with her family at the start of the parade.
“All of a sudden there was a loud revving of a truck and a crash through a fence,” Currie said. “It was definitely an intentional act right across the lanes of traffic.”
Wilton Manors police tweeted Saturday night that the public is not in danger.
“Though authorities are still gathering information, we know two individuals marching to celebrate inclusion and equality were struck by a vehicle,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement. “This tragedy took place within feet of me and my (Broward Sheriff’s Office) team, and we are devastated having witnessed this horrific incident.”
June is Pride Month, commemorating the June 1969 police raid targeting gay patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York that led to an uprising of LGBTQ Americans and served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Republished with permission.