TORONTO – At least two people were seriously injured on Monday during the downtown Toronto celebration of the local Raptors’ NBA championship victory, at which shots were fired and the crowd stampeded.
Police said that besides the two seriously injured people, two others were arrested in the incidents, which local media reported occurred amid a fight that led to a shootout at the massive victory parade.
EFE was able to determine that, when the shots were fired, at least two crowd stampedes erupted among the people jamming the city square where the celebration was being held, but it is not yet known if other people were injured in the melee or while trying to flee the gunfire.
After the stampedes, about a quarter of Nathan Phillips Square, where a stage had been set up on which members of the Toronto Raptors were addressing their fans, had been virtually emptied of people.
In addition, emergency crews evacuated between 10 and 15 people from the square, although their conditions were not known.
The celebration of the championship, in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was participating, continued despite the incidents and at a certain point event organizers called on the assembled crowd for calm.
According to some estimates on Monday, up to two million people were on hand in downtown Toronto – Canada’s largest city – for the parade and tens of thousands had packed Nathan Phillips Square for the celebration.
Toronto police closed off access to the square due to the number of people present there and they had had to intervene on several occasions during the event to calm the more excited fans.
The city of Toronto in recent years has suffered from violent incidents and shootouts that in 2018 broke the local murder record set in 1991 with about 100 people dying violently.
The Raptors won the NBA championship for the first time in team history last Thursday night by defeating the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Oakland, California, in the sixth game of the championship series.
This is also the first time in history that a Canadian NBA team has won the league championship.