Police arrested several people who were in a large SUV driving through a Native American celebration in New Mexico, causing multiple injuries along a parade route packed with families. Two local police officers are among the injured.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and his family were among those nearly hit by a large car that drove into it.
Police arrested the driver on Thursday evening, but have yet to release details of why the vehicle drove through downtown Gallup as thousands of people lined the parade route, although a man 33 year old who was arrested has been charged with drunk driving. .
Many captured the chaotic scene on video. People were yelling at others to get out of the way as some pushed onlookers to safety.
Children performing traditional dances seem to have been among the first to see him rush towards them. They can be seen running sideways as people scream and families jostle to get out of the way.
Blankets, shoes, banners and umbrellas were left strewn along the street and on the sidewalks as people fled.
Nez said the vehicle was coming towards him and a group of tribal leaders who were marching in the parade. He thanked people for their quick action.
“We just ask for your prayers for everyone involved,” Nez said in a video posted to social media. “We are all shaken. You’d see it on TV, you’d think it would never happen here. I’m sorry to say it happened here in Gallup, New Mexico.
Police said no one was killed and they had no details as of Friday of the living conditions of those injured.
After accelerating down the parade route, the vehicle then swerved down a side street and pulled into a parking spot before trying to pull back again, hitting a police cruiser. Officers then converged on the vehicle, pulling at least two people and handcuffing them to the sidewalk.
The parade was a highlight of the centennial celebration of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremony, which was founded in 1922 to honor Indigenous heritage.
Nez said there were people who traveled to Gallup from across the Navajo Nation to watch the parade and other events planned during the celebration.
The Navajo Nation spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
Nez, tribal council members and others expressed their anger and disbelief that such a thing could happen.
“It’s supposed to be a party, but today was a tough time for us,” he said.
Videos show the large brown vehicle speeding down a main street in Gallup, against the flow of the parade.
Children performing traditional dances in the parade, to celebrate the city’s 100th annual inter-tribal ceremony, appear to have been among the first to see the vehicle rushing towards them.
They ran to the side as people screamed and families rushed to escape.
The event was founded a century ago to honor Native American and Indigenous heritage.