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5 people remain hospitalized, 2 suspects in custody in Denver mass shooting that injured 10

The shooting, first reported by Denver police just after midnight, happened in the 2000 block of Market Street where thousands of Nuggets fans gathered to celebrate the NBA championship.
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Denver Shooting
NBA Finals Denver Shooting
Posted at 10:46 AM, Jun 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-30 12:16:58-04

DENVER — Ten people were injured in a mass shooting during celebrations in downtown Denver just after the Nuggets clinched the NBA championship early Tuesday morning.

The shooting,first reported by Denver police just after midnight, happened in the 2000 block of Market Street where thousands of people had gathered.

Police initially tweeted four victims and a suspect had possibly been shot and injured before later updating the number to nine gunshot victims, who were transported by ambulance to Denver Health. Police said the suspect is the 10th person injured in the shooting.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, Denver police laid out a timeline of how the shooting unfolded.

At around 12:30 a.m., the larger crowds celebrating the Nuggets win had left 20th and Market Streets. Police said there were only a few, smaller groups remaining in the intersection when shots rang out.

Raw video: Mass shooting injures 10 in downtown Denver

There were at least 100 officers in the location monitoring celebrations and were able to immediately respond.

“We responded, identified the person responsible and found multiple people injured by gunfire,” said Matt Clark, commander of Denver Police Department’s Major Crimes Division. “At the same time, other Denver police officers located and detained individuals involved in the area.”

One injured suspect, identified as Ricardo Miquel Vazquez, 22, fled the area of 20th and Market streets and was taken into custody a short distance later near Park and Blake Streets, police said.

Commander Clark said police found a firearm and suspected fentanyl on the suspect. Vazquez is being held on one charge of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and one charge of possession of a controlled substance. Denver7 has since learned he is also now being charged with four counts of attempted murder.

Denver police later searched a nearby vehicle believed to be connected to the shooting and discovered a second firearm on the floorboard. DPD said the driver of that vehicle, identified as Raoul Gottfried Jones, 33, was also taken into custody and is being held for investigation of a charge of weapon possession by a previous offender. It's not clear if the firearm found in the car was fired, police said.

Three other firearms were found nearby the shooting scene, but it is under investigation if the weapons were used during the incident, police said.

The two people taken into custody have not been charged, but are being held in connection to the investigation as of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

NBA Finals Denver Shooting
Denver Police Department investigator works the scene of a mass shooting along Market Street between 20th and 21st avenues during a celebration after the Denver Nuggets won the team's first NBA Championship early Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Commander Clark said police are still working to identify a motive, but believe the shooting could be drug-related and not connected to the celebrations. Multiple bags of suspected fentanyl pills were found at the scene.

The shooting victims are all adults - 9 men and one woman. Police believe 5 or 6 of the injured were innocent bystanders and the others are possibly connected to the shooting, according to DPD Chief Ron Thomas.

Denver Health Chief Paramedic Gary Bryskiewicz said the medical response was swift.

“We had paramedics on scene within one minute of the call,” Bryskiewicz said. “We were able to direct six ambulances in and transport 10 people to Denver Health.”

The 10 gunshot wound patients were quickly triaged at Denver Health.

DPD press conference on mass shooting during Nuggets celebration

Trauma surgeon Eric Campion said four patients needed immediate surgery.

“Out of 10, we still have five in the hospital,” said Campion.

Denver police initially reported the gunshot victims to be in critical condition but during Tuesday’s press conference the conditions of the remaining five victims were updated to fair condition.

Investigators processing the crime scene said it appeared multiple firearms were used with at least 20 rounds discharged. During the press conference, police showed video of the shooting from a DPD HALO camera and are asking the public with any additional video or information to contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP.

Asked if the shooting could have been stopped, Denver Police Chief Thomas said “We were steps away from this incident so our mere presence certainly did not stop the incident from occurring. I can’t speak to why those individuals felt emboldened enough to engage in that behavior very near to where our officers were gathered, but certainly, I think it just illustrates the considerable challenge we have in our community.”

For perspective, the video below shows the size of the crowd celebrating the Denver Nuggets NBA Finals win at Market and 20th Streets a couple of hours before the shooting unfolded.

Nuggets climb light posts in downtown Denver

Editor's note on Aug. 30, 2023 at 10:15 am.: This story has been updated to include additional charges against Ricardo Vazquez.

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