At least ten people were injured during a mass shooting in Denver that occurred early Tuesday as fans celebrated the Nuggets' NBA championship win.
Police believe that the altercation began as a dispute between a small group of people as crowds gathered outside about a mile from Ball Arena, where the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals hours earlier. Multiple shots were fired around 12:30 a.m. local time -- three and a half hours after the game had ended.
Three of the victims are in critical condition, according to police, the majority being bystanders. The suspect, Ricardo Vasquez, is one of the seven with non-life-threatening injuries. When apprehended by police, Vasquez was found with a firearm and suspected fentanyl pills.
According to spokesperson of Denver Health Medical Center Heather Burke, eight people were hospitalized at their facilities, one in critical condition. The status of the additional two victims in critical condition remains unknown.
Denver Chief of Police Ron Thomas said Tuesday that he does not believe the violence was related to the celebration of the Nuggets game, noting that many had gathered peacefully after the team's historic victory.
"There does appear to be a collection of individuals who are engaged in some fashion at some point in time and you begin to see an altercation," he said in a statement. "And I think at the tail end of that altercation is where shots were exchanged."
Thomas added: "The two elephants in the room that I think it's important to address is that there's far too many guns that are in our communities today, [and] we have a tremendous problem with fentanyl in our community today."
A celebratory parade for the Nuggets will take place in downtown Denver Thursday morning. The team's win marks their first title in franchise history.