On Saturday night, just before the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors was about to begin, a driver in a white pickup truck struck at least two men, leaving one dead and another injured though expected to survive. A third may have been struck, though he was reportedly stable. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who had been sitting in a convertible, was also almost hit, Local 10 News witnessed and reported.
While lined up with other floats, the driver accelerated and hit the two men, also crashing past a gate and into a plant nursery.
The driver and the victims were all part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus:
Police took the man who was driving the truck into custody and were questioning him. He was wearing a Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus t-shirt.
Justin Knight, the chorus’ president, said through a spokesman that chorus members were the ones injured and that the driver was “part of the Chorus family.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragic accident that occurred when the Stonewall Pride Parade was just getting started,” Knight said in a statement. “Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver was also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community. We anticipate more details to follow and ask for the community’s love and support.”
Witnesses said the driver could be heard telling police it was an accident.
Asked if the driver was being charged, or if he might have been under the influence, Fort Lauderdale Police Det. Ali Adamson would only say that they are talking to the driver as they continue their investigation. The FBI was joining the investigation Saturday night.
Though shaken and nearly struck by the vehicle, the congresswoman was unharmed, as she confirmed over Twitter.
I want to thank our first responders for their heroic efforts as both police and emergency medical personnel stepped into action quickly.— Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@RepDWStweets) June 20, 2021
We’re praying for the victims and their loved ones as law enforcement investigates, and I am providing them with whatever assistance I can. I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration. May the memory of the life lost be for a blessing.— Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@RepDWStweets) June 20, 2021
Also present at the parade was Democratic Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Dean Trantalis, who did not wait for the facts before jumping to conclusions.
"This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” he told the outlet. "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."
Again, the driver claimed it was accident, he and the victims all belonged to the same chorus, and police have not yet shared any facts of the case to confirm or deny such claims from the mayor.
While police were able to arrive quickly on the scene, it's worth reminding that NYC Pride has banned police from its events until 2025. Even after members changed course, the NYC Pride board nevertheless reversed that decision so as to still keep cops out.