Curfew imposed on youth after Milwaukee shooting injures 21 at Bucks-Celtics game – National

Milwaukee officials on Saturday imposed a curfew on youth and added additional patrols after 21 people were injured in three separate shootings near an entertainment area where thousands gathered for an NBA playoff game.

Three people were injured in the first shooting, one in the second, and 17 in what police described as a gunfight between two groups of people, all just blocks from the arena where the Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals. All victims are expected to survive.

“Why do people think they can just have a gunfight on a public street or in a nightlife area whether the police are there or not?” asked assistant chief of police Nicole Waldner during an afternoon press conference.

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Mayor Cavalier Johnson said the city has imposed a curfew on the downtown area, requiring everyone 20 or younger to be off the streets by 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Additional police patrols are also planned.

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“We can’t have that in this city, or anywhere else in this state, or anywhere else in this country,” Johnson said.

The mayor mentioned no plans to ban downtown viewing parties before Sunday afternoon’s Game 7. Although the game is played in Boston, thousands of fans often flock downtown to watch big-screen TVs in the Deer District — a nightlife area with numerous bars and restaurants that often gather large crowds to watch major sporting events.

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Waldner said three people were injured in the first shooting at 9:10 p.m., adjacent to the Deer District. Among them was a 16-year-old girl. A man is stuck.

Bill Reinemann, a parking attendant on the property next to Deer District, said he heard gunshots and then saw dozens of people running away.

“It sounded like six to eight gunshots,” he said. “It was close.”

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At 10:30 p.m. one person was shot. No arrest has been made, Waldner said.

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Another 17 people were injured in a shooting at 11:09 p.m. Five of the injured were armed and were among the 10 people taken into custody, Waldner said. Police have not yet determined what led to the shooting.

“There were a few groups that exchanged gunfire despite the incredible amount of police presence in the center,” Waldner said. “District 1 officers reported bullets whizzing past their heads.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that broken glass, empty alcohol bottles, some shoes and two bloodied shirts had littered the streets in the chaotic aftermath.

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Jake O’Kane, 25, of Appleton, Wisconsin, attended the playoff game with his girlfriend. After that, they saw the commotion of the first shooting, then went a few blocks and spent a few hours in bars before deciding to take a Lyft ride to a restaurant.

O’Kane said they were outside waiting for their ride “and all of a sudden you hear the ‘pop, pop, pop’ behind you.”

O’Kane said he heard about 20 shots before he could capture 22 more on video. He estimated the gunfire was several hundred yards from his group.

When the driver stopped less than two minutes later, “I said, bro – drive!” said O’Kane.

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The Bucks said in a statement Friday night that there were no shootings in the Deer District, where an estimated 11,000 fans unable to get into the arena gathered to watch the game.

Milwaukee was one of several U.S. cities to witness a record number of homicides in 2021, most involving firearms. The list also included Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and others.

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Experts believe that stress and pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the violence. Johnson blamed easy access to guns.

“A central part of the problem is the fact that individuals easily get their hands on guns,” Johnson said. “This is not strictly a Milwaukee issue. Across the country, we have seen an increase in shootings, both fatal and non-fatal.”

Of the 193 homicides in Milwaukee in 2021, 180 were involving firearms. Another 873 people were injured in shootings, according to police data.

This year the pace is even worse. Milwaukee has already recorded 77 homicides, a 40% increase from the same time in 2021. The number of nonfatal shootings this year is 264, two fewer than the same time a year ago.

Victor Prado, with MKE Downtown, clears debris at the corner of North Water Street and East Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee, Saturday, May 14, 2022, where multiple people were shot and injured at the end of Friday at the bar in downtown Milwaukee after the Milwaukee Bucks playoff game.

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP

O’Kane said he is concerned about the direction Milwaukee is heading.

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“Will we go to another game if we win? Yes, I still go to Bucks games. But are we going to party outside afterwards? Hell no, no chance.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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