The driver of a pickup truck struck and killed one man and injured another as protesters prepared to start a pride parade in South Florida on Saturday, police said.
Justin Knight, president of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, who was on the parade, said in a statement that the driver was “part of the Chorus family.” He added: “To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community.”
Police said they had not determined the cause of the crash, which happened just before 7 p.m. as officials and marchers gathered for the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade. The parade is an annual event in Wilton Manors, a town of about 12,750 residents just north of Fort Lauderdale that is home to a large LGBTQ community.
“We are considering and evaluating all possibilities,” said the det. Ali Adamson, spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale Police Force, who was leading the investigation, said at a press conference on Saturday night. “We owe it to our community to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation and are working with our FBI partners to do so. “
Mr. Knight said in his statement that “the injured” were members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus. It was not clear whether the reference was to include the deceased man.
Detective Adamson declined to say whether the driver had been arrested or charged. She also refused to disclose the name of the driver or the names of the two men who had been affected. The injured man should survive, she said.
“We are talking with all parties involved – including the witnesses, the driver – we do everything possible to make sure that we conduct the most complete and accurate investigation and do not rule anything out prematurely,” the detective said. Adamson. .
Sheriff Gregory Tony of Broward County, Fla., Said the driver struck the two men within feet of him and others from his office, and that they were “devastated to have witnessed this horrific incident”. He said rescuers had “instantly provided care to the victims.”
The parade was canceled after the accident.
“What started as a celebration quickly turned into tragedy at today’s Stonewall Pride Parade,” Sheriff Tony said in a statement.
Nikki Fried, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who was in attendance at the parade, said she overheard other people say the driver rushed out of a parking lot where participants in the parade had gathered. She said the truck ended up in a canal across the road.
She said many parade participants feared the driver was intentionally targeting LGBTQ people. “Unfortunately, at times like this, that’s where everyone’s mind goes,” she said.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, was also among elected officials preparing to take part in the parade when the driver collided with the two men.
“I am deeply shaken and devastated that a life has been lost and others seriously injured during the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade tonight,” she said in a statement. “I am so heartbroken by what happened at this celebration.”