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Three members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies group are among five people dead after a US Christmas parade turned to tragedy.

The group had been performing in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday afternoon when Darrell E Brooks allegedly drove his Ford Escape SUV into the parade.

The Milwaukee resident, 39, is set to appear in court later where he is likely to face five charges of intentional homicide.

Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, and Tamara Durand, 52, were killed along with Wilhelm Hospel, 81, whose wife Lola was part of the group.

Also killed was bank employee Jane Kulich, 52.

The Dancing Grannies had been founded in 1984 and usually performed 25 times a year, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The newspaper described the group as "an act… who with their pom-poms, sense of humour and moxie have entertained crowds across the area for decades".

Mrs Sorenson, a nurse, was a 19-year veteran of the group and, with her husband, had three children and six grandchildren.

Mrs Durand, a former teacher who cared for her grandson four days a week, so her daughter could attend nursing school, was making her debut with the group.

Her husband David told the Journal Sentinel: "She danced her way through life.

"She danced when there was no music. She always danced. That describes her personality."

Ms Owen managed a 32-unit apartment complex and was described as someone who "didn’t have a mean bone in her body".

On Facebook, the group said its members were "devastated by the terrible tragedy".

It added: "Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness.

"While performing, the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds’ cheers and applause, which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts."

Those who died had been "extremely passionate Grannies" and were "the glue (that) held us together", the post said.

Mr Hospel often helped the group, ferrying dancers to various performance venues and making sure everyone had what they needed.

And Ms Kulich was remembered in an online fundraising page as a "loving, beautiful, and charismatic mother, grandmother and friend to so many".

A vigil was held on Monday night, as a further nine victims – most of them children – remained in hospital, two of them in critical condition and seven listed as serious.

They were among almost 50 people injured in the incident.

Hundreds of people gathered at a park, holding candles, as volunteers handed out food and hot chocolate.

Amanda Medina Roddy, representing the Waukesha school district, said: "We are parents. We are neighbours. We are hurting. We are angry. We are sad. We are confused. We are thankful. We are all in this together. We are Waukesha strong."

Meanwhile, police revealed that Brooks, 39, had left the scene of a domestic disturbance before he allegedly drove into the parade.

Police had not been chasing him at the time, police chief Dan Thompson said.

© Sky News 2021