Night Watch Reporter Samantha Irby and Brandi Kemeau look back at the tragic results of an amusement park shooting on 10 July 2017.
Waukesha’s summer village celebrates its annual July 4 festival every year, with the town set to celebrate another event this weekend.
Tragedy struck this year after police said a gunman targeted innocent victims in a shooting at the Brookfield Square Mall. Authorities identified the shooter as an 18-year-old man, David Anderson.
After the tragedy, we spoke to individuals in Waukesha about the experience.
“Everybody who’s been through this, people are just in a frame of mind of panic, it’s just really hard,” a Waukesha woman said. “I don’t know how you expect it to be easier after everything.”
While investigators have not released many details about why the teenager carried out the rampage, a look at his past reveals it may have been prompted by a mental illness.
Court records show Anderson became upset after his parents sold his childhood home and moved out of state. His parents later withdrew him from school after learning he took pills.
An exact motive for the shooting has yet to be confirmed.
Unhappy campers were a frequent visitor of the mall, where 12 people were killed and another four were wounded. Investigators said Anderson opened fire on a crowd gathered for a birthday party in the food court. Two people remain in critical condition with gunshot wounds.
Police said Anderson fired into the crowd from a chair, three at a time. He then moved to the shopping center’s beauty salon and shot at a woman and her daughter. Anderson moved on to Target, where he picked out a backpack and armed himself with a rifle and a handgun.
Anderson set off a booby trap, causing additional chaos as officials tried to find him.
Police believe he had a struggle with a security guard at the mall and then ran to the department store.
“I just feel for the people who were in that mall, who witnessed the shootings, I know some of them can’t believe they didn’t see it coming,” a Waukesha woman said.
Anderson died at the scene.
The shooting initially sent shock waves through the community, with local police, medical personnel and the FBI going above and beyond to provide protection for those affected.
Hours after the shooting, hundreds of volunteers converged on Waukesha’s downtown area, filling the streets with thousands of signs and balloons in support of the families affected.
“I think Waukesha is doing the right thing by coming together,” one woman said.
Brandi Kemeau traveled from Phoenix to help at the vigil.
“I feel like Waukesha is a very kind and safe town, but for the people who lost family members, for those that were injured, it was a very sad day,” Kemeau said.
More than 100 community members and celebrities held an hour-long candlelight vigil in the streets at Brookfield Square Mall on Saturday night.
For more information about the vigil and Waukesha’s tribute to the victims, visit www.waukesha.com.