GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and his family were among those almost hit as a large SUV drove through a Native American parade in western New Mexico, causing multiple injuries.
Police took the driver into custody Thursday evening but have yet to release details about why the vehicle was speeding through downtown Gallup as thousands of people lined the parade route.
Many captured the chaotic scene on video. People were yelling for others to get out of the way while some pushed parade-goers to safety. Children performing traditional dances appear to have been among the first to see it rushing toward them. They can be seen running to the side as people scream and families scramble 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 at him and a group of tribal officials who were walking in the parade. He thanked people for their quick action.
“We just ask for your prayers for all of the participants,” Nez said in a video posted on social media. “We’re all shook up. You would see this on television, you would think it would never happen here. I’m sorry to say it happened here in Gallup, New Mexico.”
Community members continued reaching out to each other Friday, encouraging people to pray together.
Two Gallup police officers were among those hurt. Police said no one was killed and they did not have details Friday about the conditions of those who were injured.
After barreling down the parade route, the vehicle then swerved onto a side street and pulled into a parking spot before trying to pull out again, hitting a police car. Officers then converged on the vehicle, pulling at least two people out and handcuffing them on the pavement.
New Mexico State Police said on Twitter that the driver was in custody.
“Multiple people, including two Gallup PD officers, injured and are being treated on scene,” the tweet said.
The parade was a highlight of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Centennial Celebration, which was founded in 1922 to honor indigenous heritage.
Nez said there were people who had traveled to Gallup from around the Navajo Nation to attend the parade and the other events planned over the course of 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 some thing like this could happen.
“It’s supposed to be a celebration, but today it was a difficult time for us,” he said.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state will send additional police officers to Gallup for the remainder of the ceremonial.