MILWAUKEE – Twenty people were injured in two shootings in downtown Milwaukee near an entertainment district where thousands had been watching the Bucks lose to the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals, authorities said.
None of the injuries from either shooting after Friday night’s game were believed to be life-threatening.
The first shooting, involving three victims, occurred adjacent to the Deer District – an entertainment area with numerous bars and restaurants where large crowds often assemble to watch major sporting events.
The Milwaukee Fire Department said authorities took two people to a hospital, a 30-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, and a third person drove to a hospital. Police said a 29-year-old man was in custody.
Seventeen more people were injured in a second shooting about two hours later, which happened a few blocks away. Ten people were taken into custody and nine guns were recovered, WTMJ-TV reported.
There was no immediate indication whether the two shootings were related or involved fans who were watching the game.
Witnesses told WTMJ-TV that they saw a fight outside a bar following the basketball game.
Bill Reinemann, a parking attendant at a lot adjacent to Deer District, said he heard gunshots but did not see anyone get shot or see the shooter during the earlier shooting.
“It sounded like six to eight gunshots,” he said.
After the shots were fired, scores of fans began running toward the Deer District, he said.
Reinemann, who has worked the lot for 18 years, remained at his post even as fearful Bucks fans ran past him.
“I sat in my chair here the whole while,” he said.
The shootings occurred about two hours apart, and within blocks of each other, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The Bucks said in a statement Friday night that no shootings occurred inside the Deer District, where an estimated 11,000 fans who couldn’t get inside the arena gathered to watch the game.
Jake O’Kane, 25, of Appleton, Wisconsin, attended the playoff game with his girlfriend. Afterward, they saw the commotion from the first shooting and left that area. They spent a couple hours at bars then decided to take a Lyft ride to a restaurant.
O’Kane said they were outside waiting for their ride “then all of a sudden you hear the ‘pop, pop, pop’ behind you.”
O’Kane said he heard about 20 shots before he was able to capture 22 more on video. He estimated the gunfire was a few hundred yards away from his group.
When the driver pulled up less than two minutes later, “I said, bro – drive!” O’Kane said.
Milwaukee was among several US cities that saw record numbers of killings in 2021, most of them involving guns. The list also included Philadelphia, Indianapolis and others. Experts believe stress and pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the violence.
Of Milwaukee’s 193 killings in 2021, 180 were by firearms. Another 873 people were wounded in shootings, according to police data.
This year, the pace is even worse. Milwaukee has already recorded 77 killings, a 40% increase from the same time in 2021. The number of nonfatal shootings this year is 264, two less than from the same time a year ago.
O’Kane said he worries about the direction Milwaukee is going.
“Are we going to go to another game again, if we win? Yeah, I’m still going to end up going to Bucks games. But are we going to be partying out afterward outside? Hell no, not a chance. ”
It isn’t yet clear if extra precautions will be in place for watch parties in the Deer District or elsewhere for Sunday afternoon’s decisive Game 7, in Boston. Messages left Saturday with Milwaukee police, the city and the Bucks weren’t immediately returned.