At least 21 people were injured Friday night in three separate shootings near Milwaukee’s entertainment district, where thousands of people were watching the Bucks play the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals. None of the gunshot wounds are considered life-threatening, officials said.
The first shooting took place at around 9:10 pm local time near the Deer District – an entertainment district with numerous bars and restaurants where large crowds gather 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 was taken to a hospital.
A 29-year-old man is in custody, and a weapon has been seized.
Just over an hour later, a gunfight nearby left a 20-year-old man wounded. No one was arrested, according to police.
And at around 11:09 pm, 17 people were injured in a third shooting. Ten people were detained, including five wounded, and ten weapons were recovered, Milwaukee Police Department Deputy Chief Nicole Waldner said Saturday afternoon at a news conference.
There was no immediate indication whether the shootings were related to or involved fans who were watching the game.
The Bucks said in a statement Friday night that no shootings had taken place inside the Deer District, where about 11,000 fans who were unable to enter the arena had gathered to watch the game.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson imposed a curfew for those under 21 on Saturday and Sunday nights from 11 pm to 5:30 am in a limited emergency order following the shootings. The curfew covers the city’s entertainment district, and violators could be subject to ticket and towing fines, he said.
“For those who were injured last night, I look forward to a speedy and speedy recovery,” Johnson said. “You came to have fun, to have fun in our city and people should be able to do that downtown or anywhere else in Milwaukee and I want that to keep happening.”
Bill Reinemann, a parking attendant in the parking lot adjacent to the Deer District, said he heard gunshots but did not see anyone being shot or saw the gunman during the previous shooting.
“It felt like six to eight shots,” he said. “It was close.”
After the shots were fired, dozens of fans started running towards the Deer District, he said.
Reinemann, who has worked for 18 years, remained at his post even as Bucks fans walked past him in fear.
“I’ve been sitting in my chair here the whole time,” he said.
“The incident occurred outside the Deer District area. We have referred all inquiries to the Milwaukee Police Department,” said Bucks spokesman Barry Baum.
Of the 193 Milwaukee murders in 2021, 180 were by firearms. Another 873 people were injured in the shootings, according to police data.
This year, the pace is even worse. Milwaukee has now recorded 77 deaths, a 40% increase over the same period in 2021. The number of non-fatal shootings this year is 264, two fewer than in the same period last year.
The mayor did not cite any plans to ban downtown parties for Sunday afternoon’s 7 pm game. Although the game is in Boston, thousands of fans often gather downtown to watch on big-screen TVs in the Deer District.
He urged anyone with information to contact the Milwaukee Police Department.
“If someone did that to your family, then you would want someone to stand up and say something on behalf of your family too,” he said. “So we all have to be in the game about it. It’s not just the police. It can’t just be the police. It’s all of us together.”