At least nine people sustained injuries during a mass shooting in downtown Denver, police said, as a crowd gathered to celebrate the Nuggets’ first NBA championship.
According to police, “multiple firearms” were fired during an altercation between several people, police said, hours after the Nuggets beat the Miami Heat at Ball Arena less than a mile away.
The gunfire had reportedly happened in the 2000 block of Market Street, near the intersection of 20th Street, police said. Hundreds of fans filled the intersection and surrounding streets to celebrate the NBA championship.
Eric Campion, a trauma surgeon at Denver Medical Center, said five of the nine people shot Tuesday were hospitalized but believes all who were hospitalized are in fair condition.
Police Chief Ron Thomas said they believed the shooting was “completely unassociated to the celebration.”
Instead, police said the shooting may have been drug-related. A large amount of cash and a “significant quantity of fentanyl pills” were found in the area, according to Matt Clark, chief of the Denver Police Department’s Major Crimes Division.
Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident. Ricardo Vasquez, 22, is in custody on possession of a weapon on a previous offense and possession of a controlled substance.
According to Clark, 33-year-old Raoul Jones is in custody for a previous offense in possession of a firearm.
Clark said additional charges could be added as the investigation progresses.
Police said one of the suspects they had taken into custody was shot.
Clark noted, “We recognize it’s likely that the individuals responsible for … discharging the firearms downtown were also injured by gunfire.”
Five guns have been recovered so far, Clark said.
He said all firearms they’ve collected are undergoing tests to determine if they were shot during the incident. Police are conducting a “complex investigation,” they said.