At least 21 people were injured Friday night in three separate shootings near Milwaukee’s entertainment district, where thousands of people had been watching the Bucks play the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals. None of the injuries from the shootings are believed to be life-threatening, authorities said.
The first shooting occurred around 9:10 pm local time near the Deer District — an entertainment district with numerous bars and restaurants where large crowds often assemble to watch major sporting events. The Milwaukee Fire Department said authorities transported two people, a 30-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, and a third person drove to a hospital.
A little over an hour later, a nearby shooting left a 20-year-old man injured.
And at around 11:09 pm, 17 people were injured in a third shooting. Ten people were taken into custody, including five who were injured, and ten guns were recovered, Milwaukee Police Department assistant chief Nicole Waldner said Saturday afternoon at a press conference. A total of 11 people were arrested, the department said in a news release Saturday afternoon, and criminal charges will be referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office in the coming days.
There was no indication immediate whether the shootings were related or involved fans who were watching the game.
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.
The team said Saturday it would cancel a watch party on the plaza originally scheduled for Sunday.
“The shootings that happened in downtown Milwaukee last night were horrific and we condemn this devastating violence,” the team said in Saturday’s statement.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson imposed a curfew for anyone under the age of 21 for Saturday and Sunday night from 11 pm until 5:30 am in a limited emergency order following the shootings. The curfew covers the city’s entertainment district, and violators may be subject to ticket fines and towing, he said.
“To those who were injured last night, I am hoping for a prompt and speedy recovery,” Johnson said. “You came down to enjoy yourself, to have a good time in our city and people should be able to do that downtown or anywhere else in Milwaukee and I want that to continue happening.”
Bill Reinemann, a parking attendant at lot adjacent to Deer District, said he heard gunshots but didn’t see anyone get shot or see the shooter during the earlier shooting.
“It sounded like six to eight gunshots,” he said “It was close.”
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 incident took place outside of the Deer District area. We directed all questions to the Milwaukee Police Department,” Bucks spokesman Barry Baum said.
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.
The mayor did not cite any plans to prohibit downtown watch parties for Sunday afternoon’s Game 7. Though the game is in Boston, thousands of fans often congregate downtown to watch on big-screen TVs in the Deer District.
He called for anyone with information to contact the Milwaukee Police Department.
“If somebody did that to your family, then you would want somebody to stand up and say something on your family’s behalf too,” he said. “So all of us have to be in the game on this. It’s not just police. It cannot just be police. It’s all of us together.”