Downtown Milwaukee is under a curfew for the rest of the weekend, and a large watch party scheduled for Sunday is near the red-light district where thousands of people gathered for the NBA Playoffs game. It was stopped after 21 people were injured in three separate shots.
In one shot, 17 people were injured when the two groups began firing at each other. Another shot injured three and one in three. All shootouts were blocked from the arena where Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Boston Celtics in Round 6 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. All victims are expected to survive.
“Why do people think they can fight on public roads and red-light districts with or without police?” Police Assistant Chief Nicole Waldner asked at a press conference on Saturday.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson said the city has imposed a curfew on the downtown area, requiring everyone under the age of 20 to leave the street by 11:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, the planned Round 7 outdoor watch party in the entertainment area of Dia District, just outside the arena, has been cancelled. Johnson spokesman Jeff Fleming said in a text that the team decided to cancel the event “after consulting with the city and public security agencies.”
The watch party probably attracted well over 10,000 people. According to Bucks, 11,000 people attended the Game 6 watch party, even though more than 19,000 were in the arena.
Johnson said the person responsible for the shooting would be held liable.
“We can’t have it in this city, anywhere else in this state, anywhere else in this country,” he said.
According to Waldner, three people, including a 16-year-old girl, were injured in the first shooting at 9:10 pm, about five minutes before the end of the match. A man was detained.
The filming took place just outside the boundaries of the Deer district, a 30-acre red-light district that evolved after the Fiserv Forum opened in 2018. There are many bars and restaurants where large numbers of people gather to watch major sporting events and attend festivals.
Bill Rainman, a parking clerk adjacent to the Deer district, said he saw dozens of people flee after hearing the gunshots.
“It sounded like six to eight shots,” he said. “It was close.”
At 10:30 pm, one person was injured in the second shooting. No arrests were made, Waldner said.
Dozens of shots rang at 11:09 pm. 17 people were injured in the third shooting. Five of the injured were armed and one of the ten detained, Waldner said. Police have not yet determined what caused it.
“Despite the incredible number of police in downtown, there were several groups exchanging shootouts,” Waldner said. “The officer in District 1 reported that the bullet had passed his head.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that broken glass, an empty alcohol bottle, one shoe, and two bloody shirts were scattered in the streets in the chaotic aftermath.
Jake O’Kane, 25, from Appleton, Wisconsin, participated in a playoff game with his girlfriend. After that, they saw the turmoil from the first shoot, spent a few hours at the bar a few blocks away, and then decided to ride Lyft to a restaurant.
Okane said they were out waiting for their ride, “then suddenly you hear” pop, pop, pop “behind you.”
Okane said he heard about 20 shots before he was able to capture another 22 in the video. He estimated that the shooting was hundreds of yards away from his group.
“I said, fellow-drive!” Okane said when the driver pulled it up in less than two minutes.
Milwaukee was one of several cities in the United States that had a record number of killings in 2021, most of which were related to guns. This list also included Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and more.
Experts believe that the stress and pressure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to the violence. Johnson blamed easy access to the gun.
“The central part of the problem is the fact that individuals can easily get a gun,” Johnson said. “This is not strictly a Milwaukee issue. There is an increase in shootings across the country, both deadly and non-fatal.”
Of the 193 killings of Milwaukee in 2021, 180 were firearms. An additional 873 people were injured in the shooting, according to police data.
The pace will be even worse this year. Milwaukee has already recorded 77 killings, an increase of 40% from the same period in 2021. The number of non-fatal shots this year was 264, two less than the same period last year.
Okane said he was worried about the direction of Milwaukee.
“If I win, will I go to another game? Yes, I’m still going to the Bucks game. But are we going to have a party outside later? No, it’s not a chance.”