Police in New Mexico said an SUV drove through a Native American celebrationThursday, injuring 15 people along a parade route crowded with families.
Two police officers were among those hurt and at least one person – the driver of the SUV – was arrested in connection with the crash, New Mexico State Police reported.
The incident took place in Gallup, a city of about 22,000 along historic Route 66 about 140 miles northwest of Albuquerque near the Arizona border.
No fatalities were reported. Officials said those injured were transported to local hospitals with moderate but not life-threatening injuries.
Videos taken by people who had come to see the parade show the large brown vehicle speeding down a main street in the city, against the direction of the parade.
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.
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.
SUV driver arrested in Gallup incident
New Mexico State police is handling the crash investigation, the department said in a post on Twitter, which added that the driver of the SUV was in custody.
“Multiple people, including two Gallup PD officers, injured and are being treated on scene,” state police wrote in the tweet.
Gallup police were notified at about 7:50 p.m. that several people were consuming alcohol in a beige Chevrolet Tahoe parked along the parade route.
As officers approached the Tahoe, the driver put the vehicle into drive and took off, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety said in a press release.
“The driver put the vehicle in drive and proceeded to strike police officers, pedestrians, vehicles and a business before the vehicle backed into a New Mexico State Police unit and those involved were taken into custody,” the City of Gallup said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The driver of the vehicle, Jeff Kenn Irving, 33, of Pinedale, New Mexico, was charged with several offenses including aggravated DWI and driving with a suspended license, expired registration and without insurance. He was also charged with an accident involving personal injuries, including one case of great bodily harm and 14 counts of not great bodily harm, the state department of public safety said.
Two male passengers in the Tahoe – aged 23 and 29 – were detained and taken to the Gallup Detox Center, officials said.
Officials were not investigating the case as a hate crime, the public safety department said.
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The parade was part of celebrations for the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Centennial Celebration, state police said. The event was founded in 1922 to honor Native American and Indigenous heritage.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday the state will send additional police officers and a behavioral heath crisis team to Gallup for the rest of the 10-day event.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez attended the event with his family and other officials and was hit by the SUV as it passed through the crowd. He spoke on Facebook Thursday night, asking for prayers for those impacted and urging people who were affected by the events to call numbers of mental health professionals listed on his official page and to check on friends and relatives who were there.
“This is just evil creeping into our community,” Nez said in his six-minute-long talk from a street in Gallup as lightning flashed at times in the background. “You would see this on television, you would think it would never happen here.”
“We’re incredibly saddened and shocked by the life-threatening and traumatic incident that took place last night,” Intertribal Ceremonial Office Executive Director Melissa Sanchez wrote in a statement Friday morning. “We await as law enforcement continues to gather the facts regarding this ongoing situation. Right now, safety is the top priority for community members, participants, travelers, and event staff and volunteers.”
Contributing: The Associated Press and John R. Moses of the Farmington (N.M.) Daily Times.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.