Shooting At Raptors' Parade Overshadows Title Celebration
A shooting during the Raptors' championship celebration in downtown Toronto yesterday left four people with "non-life threatening gunshot wounds" and "marred the massive and otherwise peaceful" victory parade, according to Artuso, Pazzano & Daniell of the TORONTO SUN. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said, "There were a million people on the streets, so when you think no one will be hurt when this occurs, it’s not believable." Three people were in police custody yesterday, although "no charges were immediately laid, and police seized two firearms" (TORONTO SUN, 6/18). In N.Y., Wiebe & Austen note what prompted the shooting "remained unclear" as of last night. During the parade, many people "were lighting fireworks, which confused some people in the vicinity of the shooting" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/18). After reports of the shooting, the ceremony "continued on the stage as the crowd eased while remaining relatively subdued" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/17). The shooting "punctuated a day when national pride swelled in Toronto" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/18).
KEEPING CONTROL: The CP's Cassandra Szklarski noted Raptors play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin is "winning widespread praise for calming" the "jittery crowd after gunfire broke out at a jammed Nathan Phillips Square, convincing fans to remain strong and 'stay together.'" Devlin "calmly announced a brief suspension" of the festivities after the shooting, "promising more information soon and reminding fans they were there to celebrate." Devlin was soon "credited with preventing panic from spreading." Devlin said that he "went to the side stage for information after hearing there was an emergency." He then asked MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum if he "could make an announcement to keep everyone calm." The festivities "quickly resumed as police continued their investigation" (CP, 6/17). In Toronto, Bruce Arthur writes Devlin "kept people calm" and did a "hell of a job" (TORONTO STAR, 6/18). CBS Sports Radio’s Chris Lopresti notes there was a "small area where the shooting and people ran," but television viewers "would’ve had no idea this was occurring because it was such a huge crowd." Lopresti: "People were so locked into what they were saying on stage that the majority of the crowd stayed put where they were, even after (Devlin) made the announcement. It was a surreal scene” (“Boomer and Gio,” CBS Sports Radio, 6/18).
STICKING TOGETHER: In Toronto, Damien Cox writes that the Raptors' championship celebration was "marred by a spasm of gun violence was terrible and unfortunate, and sure frightened a lot of people." Still, the fact that "hundreds of thousands gathered peacefully was a story that could not be entirely ruined" (TORONTO STAR, 6/18). The GLOBE & MAIL's Marcus Gee notes the shooting on the edge of Nathan Phillips Square was the one, "terrible flaw in what had until then been a perfect day" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/18). SPORTSNET.ca's Arden Zwelling wrote the fact that there were "troubling and violent moments shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the vast majority of those in attendance, whether along the parade route or in the square, celebrated with gleeful enthusiasm." It "wasn’t a perfect day, but it couldn’t possibly be with millions involved" (SPORTSNET.ca, 6/17).
POOR PLANNING? THE ATHLETIC's Eric Koreen noted before the shooting there was "precious little organization that was apparent, plenty of short tempers and plenty of confusion." The parade "got to the square two-and-a-half hours after it was scheduled to arrive, thanks in large part to a lack of barricades keeping fans from jumping in front of the cars and buses on the route." Combined with the "massive crowd, that meant many fans were struggling to remain healthy and hydrated." With "alarming frequency, security guards were pulling fans, some very young and some very old, up over the barricades in order to get them to paramedics." Some fans were "woozy or had passed out." Well before the Raptors reached the square, a paramedic "estimated that they had already treated hundreds of fans, with them coming in at a rate of a fan per minute at one point" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/17).
A LITTLE TOO CRAZY: The TORONTO STAR's Arthur writes the parade before the shooting was "already a bit of a mess." The concrete city hall arches "weren’t secured, and some brave idiots clambered up and danced on top, with no fear of falling." The video and audio on the big screens in and around the square "didn’t work." There "wasn’t enough water." Cops "couldn’t get in; people had trouble getting out" (TORONTO STAR, 6/18). In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat notes some "overzealous fans jumped on top of the production trucks, forcing the broadcast crew to be evacuated because of fears the roof would cave in." That made the feed "go temporarily off of the air, which led to chants of 'show the parade,' from those unaware of what had happened" (TORONTO SUN, 6/18).
GOOD SPORTS: The Warriors took out a full-page ad in yesterday's edition of the Toronto Star to congratulate the Raptors on their NBA title.