A man drove an SUV through the crowd at a parade in Gallup, New Mexico, on Thursday night, injuring at least 15 people.
Hundreds of people had gathered in the small city for the Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Parade, which is “meant to be a celebration of peace,” KRQE-TV Albuquerque reported.
The parade and celebrations of the Inter-Tribal Ceremonial began in 1922 to “honor Native American and Indigenous heritage,” according to CBS News.
But in the midst of these celebrations, 33-year-old Jeff Kenn Irving drove through the closed-off and crowded street Thursday, New Mexico State Police said, KRQE reported.
The NMSP said at least one person suffered “great bodily harm” and the 14 others had “personal injuries not resulting in great bodily harm,” according to the report.
The Gallup Police Department said two of its officers were among the injured.
Irving is now facing 21 charges, including multiple counts of leaving the scene of a crash, aggravated DWI and driving with a revoked license, KRQE reported.
According to a criminal complaint, Irving’s alcohol breath test showed he had a 0.24 blood alcohol level — three times New Mexico’s legal limit of 0.08, the report said.
A video shared on social media showed the large SUV being driven through the busy street in Gallup.
WARNING: Some viewers might find the following video disturbing.
The city addressed the incident in a news release Friday.
“During the parade, Gallup Police Officers were notified that several people were consuming alcohol in a vehicle that was parked along the parade route,” it said. “Contact was made, the driver put the vehicle in drive and proceeded to strike police officers, pedestrians, vehicles and a business before the vehicle backed into a New Mexico State Police unit and those involved were taken into custody.
“All injuries were assessed by medical personnel and transported to local hospitals with moderate but no life-threatening injuries.
“We are deeply saddened by this incident. We encourage everyone to attend the remaining Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial events. The city is working with multiple agencies to ensure safety is of the highest priority. We will begin healing together in this celebration of cultural connections. We are Gallup strong.”
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, who was at the parade, said he and others with him could have been hit by the vehicle had they not reacted quickly.
“We were in the path of the vehicle. Thank God, the folks that were around me, our team members or council delegates[, were] not struck by the vehicle,” Nez said in a statement, according to KRQE.
Court documents said Irving told police he watched the parade and then “left,” driving his 1999 Chevy Tahoe with his two brothers inside, the outlet reported.
Police reported that Irving first told them he did not have any alcohol before the parade incident but then said he had consumed beer — “two cans about two to three hours” before the crash, according to KRQE.
Officers said he later claimed to have had “a couple beers” three-and-a-half hours before the incident.
Police investigators said they found multiple open containers inside Irving’s car, according to KRQE, which said Irving has one prior DWI conviction.
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