• Mon. Sep 25th, 2023


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Milwaukee Shooting Leaves at Least 17 Wounded, Police Say

MILWAUKEE — At least 17 people were wounded in a shooting in downtown Milwaukee on Friday night, blocks from the arena where an N.B.A. playoff game ended hours earlier, the police said.

The Milwaukee Police Department said that there were no fatalities in the shooting, which happened around 11:09 p.m. in a popular nightlife area. The victims were between 15 and 47 years old and were all expected to survive, the police said.

Ten people were in custody in connection with the shooting, including five who were armed and were wounded. The police also said they recovered 10 guns from the scene, which was near the arena, the Fiserv Forum. The police said the investigation was continuing and that they were still looking for others who might have been involved in the gunfire. What led up to the shooting was unknown.

The mayor of Milwaukee, Cavalier Johnson, issued a limited emergency order Saturday afternoon that imposed a curfew in the vicinity around the shooting for people under 21 from 11 p.m. Saturday until 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, and the same times on Sunday night.

At least 11,000 people had gathered outside the arena at a watch party in an area known as the Deer District to watch the Milwaukee Bucks play the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The next game in the series is on Sunday in Boston. Another watch party that also has the capacity for 11,000 people scheduled in the Deer District in Milwaukee was canceled Saturday, according to the Deer District website.

There were two additional shootings in the area within about a two-hour period earlier Friday night. A little after 9 p.m., three people were wounded in a shooting in a nightlife area adjacent to the Deer District that was packed with taverns. The victims were two men, ages 26 and 29, and a 16-year-old female. They were all expected to survive, the police said. A 19-year-old man was in custody in connection with that shooting, the police said.

Another shooting, on the same block as the one that resulted in the 17 wounded people, occurred at around 10:30 p.m. One person was wounded, and no one was in custody. The police said they did not believe the three shootings were connected.

In the first shooting, eyewitnesses described hearing a fight among women in an outdoor corridor that connects the Bucks’ Deer District to a street. The game had not ended yet, so most people were still watching when an explosion of noise pierced the night air.

Jake O’Kane, 25, knew the first shooting had occurred just before he left the arena with his girlfriend and two friends, but that didn’t stop his group from continuing to the bars.

“That’s kind of normal Milwaukee — the kind of one-off small, isolated incident thing — that happens, unfortunately, quite often,” Mr. O’Kane said. “It didn’t deter us at all.”

After a couple of hours downtown, Mr. O’Kane was waiting for an Uber when he heard more shots. A video Mr. O’Kane took from where he stood about a block away from the third shooting shows people running through the streets.

Casey Peters, 25, said he and friends took cover in an alley after seeing one car, which he remembers as a gray S.U.V., drive by on North Water Street with a man firing a gun from a back seat window. Another car followed, firing back, he said.

“I was scared for my life,” Mr. Peters said.

Mr. O’Kane, who lives about 90 minutes away in Appleton, Wis., said that violence downtown has become a common occurrence in recent years, a noticeable uptick from before the pandemic. He added that concerns about downtown have kept some people away from the games, like when his mother stayed home during the N.B.A. finals last year

Last July, three people were injured in a shooting on the same block during a Bucks championship celebration, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Mr. O’Kane said that he would still come to games but that he would be hesitant to spend time downtown afterward. “Maybe we’ll get back downtown, but it’s going to be: Go to the game, get out of there,” he said.

Gov. Tony Evers said on Twitter that he was heartbroken by the night’s violence. “We are thinking of all the people who were injured and are praying for their full recovery, and we are thinking of the many people affected by this senseless tragedy,” he said.

In Wisconsin, the rate of gun deaths has increased 59 percent over the period of 2011 to 2020, compared with a 33 percent increase nationwide, according to the national gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday that gun-related homicides surged by 35 percent in 2020, with gun deaths reaching the highest number ever recorded in the United States. Only one other mass shooting in 2022 has left more people wounded: a shooting at a festival in Dumas, Ark., that left one person dead and 26 others wounded.

Bil Reinemann, 72, a parking attendant at a lot near the arena, heard what he thought were gunshots when the first shooting downtown occurred. “I definitely knew it was something beyond firecrackers,” he said. He said he worried about the effect of the violence on future events in the area.

“It doesn’t do anything positive for the imagery of the downtown area, particularly that neighborhood,” he said.

Casey Koehler, 45, attended the game with his 11-year-old son, Matthew. Walking into the arena before the game and seeing the massive crowd, both in the Deer District and in the surrounding downtown streets, convinced him the scene was best avoided after the game.

“You kind of figured it was gonna get a little rowdy outside, so we left a little early,” he said. “We came back and got in the hotel and then everything started happening.”

Matthew Koehler, 11, watched from their upper-floor hotel window. “I just saw lots of police sirens and ambulances and heard a car alarm going off,” he said. “Then I saw people running and crowding around. It was a little hectic.”

The father and son had come to Milwaukee for their first Bucks game. They reveled in the experience earlier in the evening, taking pictures with strangers outside the arena and then witnessing a virtuoso performance from the Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in a losing cause. On Saturday, they headed home to Waupun, shaken by the experience but still planning return trips.

“It makes us a little nervous, you know,” Mr. Koehler said. “But it’s big city life. There were more people in that building than we have in our entire city.”