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November 29, 2023

9 people injured in Denver shooting amid Nuggets celebrations, police say

9 people injured in Denver shooting amid Nuggets celebrations, police say

At least 10 people were injured in an overnight shooting in an area of Denver where basketball fans had been celebrating the Nuggets’ first NBA title, authorities said Tuesday.

Ricardo Vasquez, who was taken into custody, also suffered a gunshot wound that wasn’t thought to be life-threatening, said Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark, the head of the Major Crimes Division. Officers chased Vasquez and found a firearm and suspected fentanyl pills, Clark said.

“We’re still working to understand the motive that ultimately led to the shooting,” Clark said. “In this case there appears to be a drug nexus for this.”

A second person, Raoul Jones, was arrested after officers contacted people in a vehicle across the street. Officers recovered a firearm under the driver’s seat floorboard.

It’s unclear whether Vasquez or Jones fired any shots or were at fault for any injuries, police said.

Three other firearms were found, Clark said, but additional forensic work will be required to determine which were fired. Police found at least 20 rounds at the scene, Clark said.

Celebrations were underway in the area after the Nuggets sealed their first NBA championship with a 94-89 win against the Miami Heat.

Officers who were already in the area monitoring the celebrations heard gunshots and rushed toward the sound, according to security video played at a news conference Tuesday.

Ten people were taken to Denver Health, four of whom required emergency surgery, said Dr. Eric Campion, a Denver Health trauma surgeon. All appeared to be in fair condition Tuesday afternoon.

Police Chief Ron Thomas said Tuesday he doesn’t believe the violence was related to the celebration and noted that many had gathered peacefully after the Nuggets’ victory.

“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,” Thomas said. “And I think at the tail end of that altercation is where shots were exchanged.”

Police believe some of the injured people may have been involved in the altercation but that innocent bystanders were also hurt in the gunfire.

“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,” Thomas said. And “we have a tremendous problem with fentanyl in our community today.”

Thomas said both were “key elements” in the shooting.

Vasquez, 22, was being held on charges of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and possession of a controlled substance. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

Jones, 33, was being held on a charge of possession of a weapon by a previous offender. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

Court records weren’t immediately available for either man.

Chantal Da Silva

Chantal Da Silva is a breaking news editor for NBC News Digital based in London. 

Associated Press



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