The city of Denver rejoiced over the historic victory of the Nuggets in the NBA finals on Monday night. When a mass shooting occurred in downtown Denver, the celebratory mood took a dark turn in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Gunfire erupted in an area filled with bars that were gradually emptying out after thousands had gathered to cheer on the team and set off fireworks around 12:30 am, near the intersection of Market and 20th Street. With half of them believed to be innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire, the shooting incident left nine men and one woman wounded by gunshot wounds. Ricardo Vasquez, 22, one of the suspected individuals, began to flee from the chaotic scene. However, he was later apprehended several blocks away and promptly transported to the hospital. Law enforcement officials discovered a firearm and a stash of fentanyl pills in his possession during his arrest. As the investigation unfolded, Vazquez remained in the hospital. Another suspect, 33-year-old Raoul Jones, was also taken into custody.
A firearm hidden beneath the floorboards of a vehicle parked in a nearby lot was found by police, and the occupants of the vehicle were deemed to be connected with the shooting. Further indicating a potential drug nexus surrounding the incident, crime scene technicians discovered multiple bags containing a significant quantity of fentanyl pills in the area. It was confirmed that no Denver police officer discharged their weapons during the incident, while detectives worked diligently to determine the identities of the shooters and the firearms involved. Ron Thomas, the police chief, emphasized that the shooting appeared unrelated to the celebratory events following the Nuggets‘ victory, pointing to the presence of cash and a large quantity of drugs as evidence of illicit activity. Five individuals, including innocent bystanders, remained hospitalized in fair condition. Dr. Eric Campion, trauma surgeon at Denver Health Medical Center, provided an update on their conditions during a press conference, explaining that prompt triage and surgical interventions were instrumental in stabilizing the victims.
With multiple firearms recovered at the scene, the scale of the shooting became apparent as police revealed that at least 20 rounds were found. Three other firearms were also seized as part of the investigation, in addition to the weapons found on Vazquez and in the vehicle. Halos camera footage that depicted shots being fired after an altercation took place was presented by the police. Occurring in close proximity to the Denver Nuggets’ Ball Arena, where the team had triumphed just hours earlier, the incident left the community stunned. The need for enhanced security measures during public gatherings was underscored by the unexpected eruption of violence amidst a joyous celebration. Extensive preparations to ensure the safety of the crowd were made by the city, but the tragic turn of events could not have been foreseen. Thousands of fans had flooded the streets surrounding the arena after the game, but by the time of the shooting, the crowd had thinned out, according to CBS Colorado. Nonetheless, the immediate vicinity of the intersection was still populated when the gunfire broke out, causing panic and confusion among those present. As authorities strive to unravel the full consequences of events and bring those responsible to justice, the investigation into the incident continues.