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Drug deal likely led to Denver mass shooting after Nuggets win

Ten people were injured in the shooting, and about half were innocent bystanders.
Drug deal likely led to Denver mass shooting after Nuggets win
Posted at 8:19 AM, Jun 14, 2023

A drug deal was likely what led to a mass shooting in Denver following the Nuggets' first NBA championship win.

Denver Police said they recovered large amounts of cash and drugs, including bags of fentanyl, during their shooting investigation. 

Nine men and one woman were shot. One of the injured is a suspect who is in police custody at the hospital. All 10 had been transported to Denver Health Medical Center. 

Authorities believe around half of the injured were innocent bystanders.

"While we know some of the offenders were injured by gunfire, we also know that several innocent people who were in the area were hit by rounds that were fired," Denver Police Department Commander Matt Clark said in a news conference.

Four of the injured individuals required immediate surgery. Five of the 10 total patients remain hospitalized. They are expected to recover.

Two people have been held by police on weapons charges. Ricardo Vasquez, 22, is being held for investigation of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, as well as possession of a controlled substance; and Raul Jones, 33, is also being held for investigation of possession of a weapon by a previous offender.

SEE MORE: 10 injured in Denver mass shooting following Nuggets championship win

Around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, large crowds had begun to disperse as NBA Finals celebrations were coming to a close. That's when police said they heard several gunshots and approached the 2000 block of Market Street, which is about a mile from Ball Arena, where the Denver Nuggets play. 

Police discovered several people with gunshot wounds and began rendering aid until paramedics arrived. 

Simultaneously, other Denver police officers identified individuals believed to be involved in the incident. One person fled on foot and was apprehended by officers who chased him down. The individual was Vasquez, who had a gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital. Police recovered a firearm and suspected fentanyl pills.

Officers also located individuals in a vehicle across the street who were believed to be connected to the shooting. Police said they found a gun in the floorboard of the car, and the driver — Jones — was detained. 

None of the occupants of the vehicle had been shot.

At least 20 rounds were fired in the area. Three more firearms were recovered in addition to the ones found on Vasquez and the one in the car Jones had been driving. 

"Because of the different shell casings that were recovered at the scene, it's pretty clear there was more than one weapon that was fired," Denver Chief of Police Ron Thomas said in a press briefing.

Denver Police said despite the incident, they will be prepared to protect the city during the parade Thursday celebrating the Nuggets' championship win.

Police thanked the thousands of others who were peacefully celebrating after Monday's game, saying it was unfortunate that the shooting occurred at an otherwise happy time.


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