PdC native thought he was helping a homeless person when alleged criminal came knocking

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Ring doorbell footage shows Darrell Brooks surrendering to police on the front porch of Daniel Rider’s home in Waukesha.

By Correne Martin

 

Daniel Rider had just returned to his home in Waukesha from hunting near his hometown of Prairie du Chien, when he got the visitor of a lifetime, Nov. 21.

Rider got home about 4:25 p.m. He knew there was a Christmas parade happening in the downtown only two blocks away, but he would’ve been late getting to it. So instead, he flipped on some football.

At 5:01 p.m., Darrell Brooks, the suspect later accused of driving his vehicle over spectators at the Waukesha Christmas parade, showed up at Rider’s front door.

Rider, 24, recounted what happened next, after Brooks knocked on the door: “He was saying he was homeless, he needed help and he needed to borrow my phone. He was only wearing a T-shirt and no shoes. He was violently shivering. I believed him.”

So, Rider grabbed a coat for Brooks and even made him a sandwich, thinking he was hungry.

“He was nice and thanking me. Never once did he strike me as a criminal,” Rider said. “I wasn’t totally being reckless. I just trusted him.”

Brooks was in Rider’s house for less than 10 minutes, according to the recording from his Ring door camera. At 5:09 p.m. Rider noticed police traffic passing by outside on the street—an occurrance he said wasn’t common for his quiet neighborhood. 

Rider immediately knew something wasn’t right. 

“I thought, ‘this is too weird.’ He had been on my phone the whole time, with his mom. She supposedly called an Uber, and the Uber was supposed to be there by then,” Rider said. “So I just said, ‘I need you to leave.’”

As he asked Brooks to go, Rider opened his front door and walked out first. Brooks followed. Next, Rider overheard his neighbor ask if he was “looking for that guy.” Then, he requested his phone and coat back. Brooks complied, with no trouble, and Rider went back inside, leaving the man on his porch. 

At 5:11 p.m., the Ring video shows Brooks returning to bang on Rider’s door, saying his ID was inside, obviously wanting back in.

Seconds later, the police arrived at the residence and arrested Brooks. Rider said he peeked out the window as officers were taking Brooks into custody. He noted that Brooks seemed to downplay his alleged parade involvement but that he was basically arrested without incident. 

At that point, Rider was still oblivious to the chaotic actions that led to Brooks showing up so frantically at his home that Sunday. 

“I figured it was a drug bust or something,” he stated. 

Soon after the arrest, police briefly interviewed Rider about what had occurred. Learning that he had only been an innocent citizen watching TV and relaxing, not playing any intentional part in harboring a criminal, the police only needed a copy of Rider’s doorbell video. That certainly proved his story. Then, the officers went on with their night. 

The night of the incident, Rider called his mom, Lynn, back in Prairie du Chien. After discussing what happened and the related news reports, his mom assured him that what he did was merely serve as “a light” and help someone in need.

Growing up in a small town, he feels his reaction simply reflects the good-hearted person he is and the trust he was raised to have in others.  

In the days that followed, news media from all over the world called Rider, looking to get his first-hand account of Brooks’ visit and ensuing arrest. The requests got so out of hand that he actually got himself an agent to guide him through the sudden demand for his story. 

The craziness has since died down.

Looking back on the events of Nov. 21, Rider said, first and foremost, he wants all attention and condolences to go to the six victims who died as a result of the parade rampage and the over 60 who were injured. 

He and his girlfriend, Katrina Reigh—who lives with him but was working when Brooks was there—went last week to see the Waukesha memorial for the parade victims.

“It really tugs at your heart strings,” he said. “There are flowers, teddy bears, special notes.”

Overall, Rider feels lucky that his outcome wasn’t tragic, but saddened by the circumstances of others. 

“I’m feeling full of emotions,” he explained. “All I did was try to help someone. At the least, I slowed [Brooks] down for 10 minutes.”

Long enough for police to arrest him. 

Brooks is charged with six counts of first-degree homicide as a result of allegedly  driving his vehicle into the Waukesha Christmas parade.

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