Two participants in a Florida Pride parade were run over by a truck Saturday night, in what the mayor of Fort Lauderdale called a “terrorist attack against the LGBT community.”
Others, however, including members of a local Gay Men’s Chorus, have maintained the deadly crash was an accident by one of its own members. Police said they are investigating all possibilities.
One of the victims died from their injuries, and the other is in critical condition, according to WPLG Local 10 News. The FBI was called in to help the investigation, according to the station.
The white pickup truck — carrying a rainbow-colored Pride flag — was lined up with other floats when the driver hit the gas and ran over the two would-be marchers at the start of the Wilton Manors celebration around 7 p.m., the station reported.
“The truck revved up real fast and just took off,” parade-goer David Banter told CBS Miami.
The driver, who narrowly missed hitting the convertible Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was riding in, told police that his foot was stuck between the gas pedal and the brake causing him to lose control, CBS said.
A handcuffed bald man was filmed by WPLG reporter Christian De La Rosa being marched to a police squad car.
He was wearing a white T-shirt with the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus rainbow-colored logo on the back — and the group’s president confirmed he “was a part of the chorus family.”
“To my knowledge, it was an accident. This was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” the chorus’ president Justin Knight said in a statement.
“We anticipate more details to follow and ask for the community’s love and support.”
Police have not announced any charges against the unidentified individual or discussed a possible motive, according to WPLG.
However, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who was at the parade in the gay-friendly Broward County city, told the station he believes the driver was trying to hit the Democratic congresswoman.
“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” Trantalis told Local 10 News.
“This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people,” he said.
“He was screaming vulgarities,” the mayor claimed, although that was not evident from video of the arrest.
Wasserman Schultz was pictured crying at the scene. In a statement, she 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.”
A witness told The South Florida SunSentinal she believed the crash was premeditated.
“All of a sudden there was a loud revving of a truck and a crash through a fence,” Spectator Christina Currie said. “It was definitely an intentional act right across the lanes of traffic.”
“Due to a tragic event, the Stonewall Pride Parade has been canceled but the festival events will continue,” the Wilton Manors Police Department tweeted.
With Post wires
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