Authorities confirmed on Tuesday that at least 10 people were injured after an overnight shooting in an area of Denver where basketball fans were celebrating the Nuggets’ NBA championship title. The shooting unfolded as celebrations were underway after the Nuggets won their first NBA championship with a 94-89 victory against the Miami Heat. According to surveillance footage played at a press conference Tuesday, officers monitoring the areas heard gunshots and rushed toward the sound. A total of 10 people were taken to Denver Health, four of which required emergency surgery. All patients appeared to be in fair condition as of Tuesday afternoon.
According to Denver Police Major Crimes Division Commander Matt Clark, one of the suspects – 22-year-old Ricardo Vasquez – was chased by officers on foot and taken into custody. Vasquez was found with a firearm and suspected fentanyl pills, and suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound. A second suspect, 33-year-old Raoul Jones, was arrested in connection with the investigation. Clark said: “We’re still working to understand the motive that ultimately led to the shooting. In this case there appears to be a drug nexus for this.” Clark said that three other firearms were found following the shooting, but additional forensic work will be required to see which guns were fired. At least 20 rounds were found by police at the scene. Vasquez is being held on charges of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and possession of a controlled substance, while Jones is being held on a charge of possession of a weapon by a previous offender.
Denver Chief of Police Ron Thomas said Tuesday that authorities do not believe the violence was related to the celebration, rather, “There does appear to be a collection of individuals who are engaged in some fashion at some point in time and you begin to see an altercation. And I think at the tail end of that altercation is where shots were exchanged … I think, you know, the two elephants in the room that I think it’s important to address is that there’s far too many guns that are in our communities today. We have a tremendous problem with fentanyl in our community today.”
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