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Gun violence overshadows Bucks excitement in Milwaukee over difficult weekend

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Posted at 10:28 PM, May 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 13:59:29-04

The city entered this weekend excited about the Bucks, Milwaukee's great unifier downtown.

In a moment, that joy was shattered by more gun violence.

On Friday night, the Deer District was at capacity — an 11,000-person cap set by Fiserv and the Bucks for Game 6.

The gates were closed well before halftime.

"I'm here for them [Bucks] to close them [Celtics] out," said Johnathan Porter. "It's time. Bucks in six."

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The watch party on Friday.

Suddenly, right before the Bucks lost a game that would send them to the conference finals, hundreds of fans rushed for the north exit of the district.

Pushing and shoving led to several fights.

"People were flooding out of there. It was crazy. So, they must have been hearing shots from the front. I don't know," said Mark Austin, a Bucks fan visiting from Fond du Lac.

The shooting happened outside the District shortly after 9 p.m., near the corner of M.L.K. Drive and W. Highland.

Three people were shot and one man was arrested.

It was the first of three shootings that night. The largest shooting two hours later left 17 people injured.

All told, 21 people were shot in the entertainment district on Friday. All of them survived. Police arrested ten people and collected ten guns.

The city held a press conference the following day at noon.

"If somebody takes out a gun, and they fire that gun into a crowd of people, then guess what? They should go to jail, and go to jail for a long time," said Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

Curfew ends following shootings near Deer District

Johnson responded to the violence with a curfew targeting young people.

Per the emergency order, anyone under 21 caught in the entertainment district downtown between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. would be arrested and fined $691.

Milwaukee said they didn't issue a single curfew citation on Saturday night.

The Deer District, in response to the violence, canceled Sunday's watch party for Game 7 in Boston.

"It was such a cool thing to see everyone together and feeling that unity, and I think that was probably the biggest disappointment about the whole thing," said Ben Tanjai, the National Anthem singer for the Bucks.

A lot of businesses in the area closed early on Friday after the first shooting.

And on Saturday and Sunday, they took a hit, too.

"So far, it's pretty slow. Usually on a game day the parking lot is full. But I don't blame people for being scared about it," said Ajay Medina, who works at Mr. Taco.

Sunday's Game 7 loss, ending the Buck's shot at back-to-back titles, stings.

The silver lining? Giannis Antetokounmpo, arguably the greatest player in the game right now, has three more years and an option for a fourth remaining on his contract. That's plenty of time for another title run.

But until the city is able to bring the violence under control, it will be harder to enjoy Antetokounmpo's success here.

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