The shooting in downtown Denver that took place as fans celebrated the Denver Nuggets' NBA championship appears to have stemmed from a fentanyl drug deal gone wrong, local authorities confirmed during an update Tuesday (June 13) afternoon via the Denver Post.
At least 10 people, including the suspect, were reported to have experienced injuries in relation to the incident, including three victims who were hospitalized and reported to be in critical condition, though all victims are expected to survive life-threatening injuries. Two suspects were reportedly being held in police custody.
Ricardo Vazquez, 22, was charged with possession of controlled substances and weapons as a previous offender. Raoul Jones, 33, was charged with possession of weapons by a previous offender.
“At least 20 shots were fired. We are still working to determine the motive. There appears to be a drug nexus,” said Denver public safety director Armando Saldate via the Denver Post.
Police initially said multiple shots were fired following what is believed to be an "altercation involving several individuals" based on preliminary information. Authorities said there was no indication that the incident was linked to the championship celebrations.
Police spokesperson Doug Schepman said a small crowd was present in the area of the shooting when it took place but had "diminished quite a bit at that point," via NBC News, He also acknowledged many people in the area had exited bars after the game concluded.
The Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat, 94-89, in Game 5 of the 2023 NBA Finals to win their first championship in franchise history. Two-time regular season MVP Nikola Jokic was named the NBA Finals MVP, averaging 30.2 points, 14 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 14 steals per game, which included 28 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and one block during Monday's (June 12) win.