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‘Dancing Grannies’ among victims of Wisconsin holiday parade tragedy

The performers are mourning the loss of two of their members, who were among the 5 killed when a person drove an SUV into the Waukesha Christmas parade Sunday.
/ Source: TODAY

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are "devastated" after a joyful performance at the annual Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, resulted in two of their members being killed when a driver in a red SUV plowed into the crowd at a high speed on Sunday.

Dancing Grannies members Virginia "Ginny" Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, and Tamara Durand, 52, were among the five people killed when an SUV allegedly driven by suspect Darrell Brooks, 39, slammed into the crowd and marchers at the city's annual parade. Durand wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that she was making her debut with the group during the parade festivities.

Another victim who was killed, Wilhelm Hospel, 81, is the husband of another member of the Dancing Grannies, NBC News confirmed Tuesday.

One Dancing Grannies member told NBC senior national correspondent Tom Llamas on TODAY Tuesday she felt the person who fatally struck them was “evil.” 

The surviving members of the group have vowed to continue spreading happiness with their performances while honoring the two women they lost.

"I think what I would like is for everyone to remember how much joy they brought to everyone," member Sharon Millard told Llamas. "It might take us a year to pull back and get more people to join. But I know in our hearts that we’re going to continue."

The group also shared their grief over their loss in a Facebook post on Monday.

"Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness. While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.

"Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed.....joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue....held us together."

Sorenson and Owen were among five people killed ranging in ages 52 to 81, and 48 others were injured, including 18 children.

People embrace one another during a vigil Monday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for the five people killed when a suspect drove an SUV through a holiday parade route. Jim Vondruska / Getty Images

Milwaukee Bucks fans lit up their home arena with their cell phones in tribute to the victims during a moment of silence at Monday night's game against the Orlando Magic.

Schools in the city remain closed until after Thanksgiving and crisis counselors have been made available to students.

Brooks is expected to face five counts of first-degree intentional homicide after a scene that Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard likened to "a war zone" in a press conference on Monday.

Police believe Brooks acted alone. Records reviewed by NBC News show that Brooks has a criminal record stretching back for decades that includes arrests for drugs, battery and domestic abuse.