One man is dead and another man has been injured after a white pickup truck ran over a crowd just as the Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival was kicking off in Wilton Manors Saturday night, Fort Lauderdale police said.
The truck, a 2011 Dodge Ram clad in a rainbow flag, was along the parade route on the southwest corner of NE 16th Street and NE 4th Avenue with other floats.
The driver, a 77 year-old man, was participating in the parade and had ailments preventing him from walking in the the parade and was selected to drive as the lead vehicle, police say. Fort Lauderdale Police Department is actively investigating the incident with assistance from the FBI.
In anticipation of the start of the parade, the vehicle accelerated unexpectedly, striking two pedestrians and continued across all lanes of traffic, ultimately crashing into the fence of a business on the west side of the street, according to a statement by Fort Lauderdale police.
The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with investigators. A DUI investigation of the driver was conducted on scene and showed no signs of impairment.
Video obtained by NBC 6 shows people crowded over two bodies after the incident.
Fort Lauderdale Police did not release the names of the victims or the driver of the truck and did not comment on whether the incident was an accident, citing the investigation.
Both victims were taken to Broward Health Medical Center. One was pronounced dead, the other victim is expected to survive, police say.
The driver of the pickup truck was wearing a Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus shirt and the president of the organization, Justin Knight, said in a statement that the victims and the driver were all members of the Gay Men's Chorus.
"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." Knight said in the statement.
One witness, who did not want to be named, said that she heard a loud noise. At first she thought it was two cars colliding but then "out of nowhere, we see people just crowding these two bodies."
NBC 6 Meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin, who served as a co-Grand Marshall for the parade, was at the front of the parade when the incident happened. After delays to the start of the parade, he walked around and he said people were still celebrating.
"I don't know if everyone knew what happened. I heard a lot of rumors and we don't know which ones are true yet," MacLaughlin said. "But, for me personally, it felt like it wasn't a time to celebrate, so I actually came home."
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who saw the incident happen, described the event as a terrorist attack on the LGBTQ+ community.
But Wilton Manors City Commissioner, Chris Caputo, tweeted that "it seems increasingly probable that it was an accident."
The parade was canceled due to the incident, but police said other events related to the festival continued and that "there is no danger to the public."
Florida officials lamented the events.
Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz, whose car was inches away from where the incident happened, according to a witness, said she was "shaken and devastated" by the events and thanked first responders "for their heroic efforts."
Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate, Nikki Fried, said she was at the event and tweeted, "All of us here all praying for them and their families."
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle also tweeted her thoughts on the incident saying that "Hate of any kind has #NoPlaceInOurCommunity."
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department asks anyone who may have witnessed this incident, who has not already spoken to investigators, to contact Traffic Homicide Investigator Paul Williams at (954) 828-5755.
This is a developing story. Please check back for more details.