Police in New Mexico said an SUV drove through a Native American celebration in New Mexico Thursday, injuring multiple 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.
After being notified that several people were consuming alcohol in a vehicle parked along the parade route, Gallup police approached the vehicle, the City of Gallup said in a statement sent to USA TODAY.
“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 statement said.
State police could not immediately be reached for comment by USA TODAY Friday. But late Thursday state police Lt. Mark Soriano said no one was killed in incident, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
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The parade was part of celebrations for the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Centennial Celebration, state police said on their Twitter page. The event was founded in 1922 to honor Native American and Indigenous heritage.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez attended the event with his family and other officials and was close to 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.”
Organizers urged participants and guests to check the event website, along with the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Facebook and Twitter pages in case there are changes to the event schedule.
“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.”
Sanchez said police plan to reinforce law enforcement presence during the remainder of the event “to ensure public safety. Our hope is to keep the schedule for the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial intact.”
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.