mass shooting

Looking back at recent incidents of violence at championship parades

Gunfire in the area or the threat of mass violence has occurred at each of the championship parades for the four main U.S. sports over the last year.

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A championship parade, intended to bring thousands together for a day of celebration, once again ended in violence and panic.

Each of the parades held in honor of the most recent champions of the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League have been marred in some form by gunfire in the area or the threat of mass violence.   

That alarming trend continued Wednesday when a shooting after the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl parade left one person dead and at least 20 injured. Two armed suspects were taken into custody, according to Kansas City police.

"I’m angry at what happened today," Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said. "The people who came to this celebration should expect a safe environment. We had over 800 law enforcement officers, Kansas City and other agencies, at the location to keep everyone safe. Because of bad actors, which were very few, this tragedy occurred, even in the presence of uniformed law enforcement officers."

The shooting in Kansas City appears, but it not yet confirmed, to be the first that randomly targeted parade attendees since 2019 when four were shot and wounded during the Toronto Raptors' NBA championship parade. 

NBC News reported at the time that the Toronto shooting occurred in the City Hall Square just after the team arrived for the parade. Three people were taken into custody, and police said the victims did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

The ceremony was briefly interrupted as the crowd was alerted of the emergency and asked to remain calm.

"I hope all those injured in today's shooting have a speedy recovery, and I'd like to thank the Toronto police for acting so quickly,'' Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted at the time. "We won't let this act of violence take away from the spirit of today's parade.''

Other acts of violence occurred in the vicinity of NBA parades in the years prior to the Toronto shooting.

In 2015, three people were shot a half mile from the Golden State Warriors' championship rally main stage. Police did not say at the time whether the shooting was connected in any way to the parade.

After the Cleveland Cavaliers' championship parade in 2016, a 15-year-old boy was arrested for firing shots in a crowd after officers broke up a fight outside Tower City, according to The gunfire reportedly struck a 13-year-old girl twice in the knees. 

The more recent incidents that occurred during championship celebrations did not appear to be directly linked to the parade itself but caused panic in the area. 

Following a parade for the NBA champion Denver Nuggets in June, two people were shot along the route in what police said was a targeted incident. Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas told reporters the shooting was "completely unassociated to the parade and subsequent events."

The incident occurred just days after 10 were injured during a shooting in the area on the night the Nuggets won the championship. That incident, according to the Denver Post, was connected to a drug deal, leaving multiple innocent bystanders wounded and causing the remaining crowd in the area to scatter.

Days later, a Las Vegas man was jailed after being accused of threatening mass violence at the victory parade for the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights. The suspect, according to the Associated Press, threatened to either drive a truck into throngs of hockey fans or use gasoline bombs to injure police and revelers on the Las Vegas Strip.

In November, two arrests were made during the Texas Rangers' championship parade after shots were fired in the area following an argument and altercation between the occupants of two different vehicles in a parking lot.

Each incident tainted what was intended to be a joyous occasion, but none to the extent of the shooting in Kansas City, which left one person dead and three in critical condition. 

"This is absolutely a tragedy," Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said, "the likes of which we never would have expected in Kansas City, the likes of which we'll remember for some time."

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