A total of 21 people were injured in three separate shootings near an entertainment district where thousands gathered for an NBA playoff game in Milwaukee.
Downtown Milwaukee will also be under a limited curfew for the rest of the weekend and a huge watch party scheduled for Sunday was canceled after various incidents Friday night.
In one of the shootings, 17 people were injured when two groups started shooting at each other. Three people were injured in another shooting and one in the third. All of the shots happened on the streets of the arena where the Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The Milwaukee Fire Department said authorities took two people to the hospital, a 30-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, and a third person checked into the hospital. All victims should survive.
Police said a 29-year-old man was in custody after the first shooting and charges were pending review by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
No arrests have been made in the second shooting, Deputy Police Chief Nicole Waldner said.
Ten people were taken into custody and nine firearms were recovered in the third shooting, according to police, who described the incident as an exchange of gunfire between two groups of people.
“What makes people think they can just have a shooting on a public street or in an entertainment district whether the police are there or not?” Waldner asked during a press conference on Saturday.
Witnesses told local television they saw a fight outside a bar after the basketball game. Police are investigating what led to the shooting.
It happened just outside the boundaries of the Deer District, a 30-acre entertainment district that was developed after the Fiserv Forum opened in 2018. It includes many bars and restaurants where large crowds gather often to watch major sporting events or to attend festivals.
Sunday afternoon’s game watch party would likely have attracted more than 10,000 people. The Bucks said 11,000 people attended a Game 6 watch party, even as more than 19,000 others were inside the arena.
“The shootings that occurred in downtown Milwaukee last night were horrific and we condemn this devastating violence,” the Bucks said in a statement. He said the watch party was canceled “to allow law enforcement to dedicate the necessary resources to continue investigating the events of last night,” but noted that businesses in the district of Deer will remain open.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson said the city has imposed a downtown curfew requiring anyone 20 or younger to leave the streets by 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday – when the Bucks play Boston in the deciding game 7.
Meanwhile, an outdoor Game 7 watch party that had been scheduled in the Deer District entertainment area just outside the arena has been cancelled. Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for Johnson, said in a text that the team decided to cancel the event “after consultation with the city and public safety agencies.”
Johnson said those responsible for the shooting will be held accountable.
“We can’t have that in this city, or anywhere else in this state, or anywhere else in this country,” he said.
Waldner said three people, including a 16-year-old girl, were injured in the first shootout at 9:10 p.m., about five minutes before the end of the game. A man has been taken into custody.
Bill Reinemann, a parking lot attendant on land adjacent to Deer District, said he heard gunshots and then saw dozens of people running away.
“It felt like six to eight shots,” he said. “It didn’t go far.”
At 10:30 p.m., a second shootout injured one person, then dozens of shots rang out at 11:09 p.m., during the third shootout, which left 17 injured. Five of the injured were armed and were among 10 people arrested, Waldner said. Police have yet to determine what triggered it.
“There were a few groups that were exchanging gunfire despite the incredible police presence downtown,” Waldner said. “Officers in District 1 reported bullets whizzing past their heads.”
the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported broken glass, empty liquor bottles, single shoes and two bloody shirts littered the streets in the chaotic suites.
Milwaukee was among several US cities that recorded a record number of murders in 2021, most involving firearms.
Of Milwaukee’s 193 murders in 2021, 180 were committed by firearm. According to police data, another 873 people suffered gunshot wounds.
This year, the pace is even worse. Milwaukee has already recorded 77 murders, a 40% increase from the same time in 2021. The number of non-fatal shootings this year is 264, two fewer than the same time a year ago.