Two people were shot during a rally at the end of the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto on Monday.
As police told the Daily Mail, both victims sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries.
Two suspects have been arrested and two firearms were recovered, according to police.
Authorities have not announced any of the circumstances surrounding the incident, which occurred just as the Raptors players and coach Nick Nurse were wrapping up their speeches at the rally in Nathan Phillip’s Square. One official took the microphone to ask that onlookers remain calm.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the Raptors players remained on stage while the ceremony was briefly interrupted.
First responders attend to an injured person after shots were fired during the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball championship victory celebration near Nathan Phillip’s Square in Toronto
Two people were shot following Monday’s victory parade in Toronto, celebrating the Raptors’ first NBA title. As police told the Daily Mail, both victims sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries
The day had been peaceful, with as many as two million spectators packing the streets of Toronto to celebrate the Raptors’ six-game NBA Finals win over the Golden State Warriors. The festivities began at 10am and ended with the rally at Nathan Phillips Square at 12:30.
It was there, at Bay St. and Albert St., that the shots were fired, prompting thousands of fans to flee the scene in terror.
Police quickly located both victims and took two people into custody. Two firearms were found, and the Toronto Police are continuing to investigate the incident.
A parade spectator named Gelek Besthairtsang had been filming the rally from above Nathan Phillip’s Square when he noticed a surge of people running away from the crowd.
‘[People] have been running from the back of the stage for some reason,’ he tweeted. ‘hope everyone’s safe.’
Raptors fan Eleanor Simmons described the scene to Vice.
‘People were trying to get into buildings but they couldn’t because of all the revolving doors and smashing into each other.’ Everyone started lining up in an organized way to get through the doors, one at a time. It worked and people were able to get inside.
‘I’ve never felt like I was going to get shot before. It’s not something I know how to process. I’ve never been so scared in my life.’
The day had been peaceful, with as many as two million spectators packing the streets of Toronto to celebrate the Raptors’ six-game NBA Finals win over the Golden State Warriors. The festivities began at 10am and ended with a rally at Nathan Phillips Square at 12:30. It was there that the shots were fired, prompting thousands of fans to flee the scene
Two suspects have been arrested and two firearms were recovered, according to police. Police have not announced any of the circumstances surrounding the incident
Police barricade the street as first responders arrive after shots were fired during the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball championship victory celebration near Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto
The Toronto Police quickly set up a barricade around crime scene while first responders tended to one of the two victims
An ambulance arrives to the scene after shots were fired during the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball championship parade
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau poses for a selfie with a Toronto Raptors fan before Monday’s shooting
The crowd, estimated to be up to two million by Mike Bartlett, head of community affairs and events with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, is remarkable considering that Toronto has a population of 2.93 million, although the greater-Toronto area population is closer to 6 million.
The procession began with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry holding the Larry O’Brien trophy atop one of five double-decker buses while Kawhi Leonard enjoyed a cigar with his NBA Finals MVP trophy in the back of another.
Leonard, a New Balance spokesman, was wearing a shirt from the apparel company that reads, ‘Board Man Gets Paid,’ which is a reference to his famously even-keeled demeanor. The Raptors forward will be a free agent this summer, and some have speculated he could sign with the Clippers in his native Los Angeles or even the Brooklyn Nets.
Trudeau was seen slapping fives with fans and interacting with players before the shooting
At one point Leonard’s three-year-old daughter Kaliyah could be seen napping in the top of one of the buses alongside the former San Diego State star and his girlfriend, the girl’s mother, Kishele Shipley.
Naturally, Toronto native and Raptors ‘global ambassador’ Drake was along for the ride, and was seen partying with Leonard and his mother.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even joined the parade, albeit briefly.
Trudeau was seen slapping fives with fans and interacting with players before the shooting. It’s not quite clear what his proximity to the square was at the time of the incident.
Streets were closed off to accommodate the convoy carrying the Raptors, and three subway stations were also closed due to overcrowding on the street level. Enthusiastic fans festooned the streets of Toronto wearing red, purple, black and white.
A few fans climbed atop of bus stops and the arches of Nathan Phillips Square, but were asked by police to come down.
As crowds swelled along the streets, several people were put on stretchers due to dehydration. Dancers, security guards and the organizers were seen handing out water to the fans, who continued to throng streets leading up to the square.
The Snowbirds, an aerobatic flight demonstration team of the Royal Canadian Air Forces, soared over the skies of Toronto to join the festivities.
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, left to right, smokes a cigar holding his playoffs MVP trophy as he celebrates with rapper Drake. Leonard’s mother Kim Robertson is pictured, right
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry holds the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy on Monday
Kawhi Leonard and his girlfriend Kishele Shipley take a seat as their daughter Kaliyah naps during Monday’s parade
Canadian rapper, Toronto native and Raptors global ambassador Drake (in black) enjoys Monday’s parade with the team
Lowry gestures towards fans while holding the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy during the NBA basketball championship team’s victory parade
General view of the crowd size for the Toronto Raptors NBA championship parade
Kawhi Leonard, left to right, celebrates with Drake, Leonard’s girlfriend Kishele Shipley and his mother Kim Robertson (right)
Members of the Toronto Raptors ride on buses during a victory parade in Toronto on Monday
Fans climb the arches at Nathan Phillips Square ahead of Monday’s victory parade in Toronto
Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam sprays champagne over the attendees at Monday’s victory parade in Toronto
Pascal Siakam (left) and his Toronto Raptors teammates celebrate the franchise’s first NBA title
The Raptors beat the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Thursday to clinch the 2019 NBA Finals and win the first title in the franchise’s 24-year-history. Monday’s parade began at 10am ET at Exhibition Place’s Princes’ Gates and ended at Nathan Phillips Square with a 12:30pm rally
Drake was named the Raptors’ global ambassador in 2013 and is a member of the team’s executive committee, although his exact role is somewhat undefined.
He made headlines during the Eastern Conference Finals series against the Milwaukee Bucks for his sideline antics, which included giving Raptors coach Nick Nurse an impromptu back rub.
But while the Canadian rapper has become closely identified with the Raptors, Monday’s parade put the spotlight on the team’s growing army of fans.
Lifelong Raptors fan Morteza Hashimi told CBC that he spent the night sleeping on the concrete at the Square so he wouldn’t have an obstructed view of the festivities.
‘It’s really important because the amount of years we’ve spent watching this team, the amount of heartbreaks, the devastation that we’ve had in playoffs and the really bad years that we’ve gone through,’ Hashimi said.
The Raptors’ victory parade began along the shores of Lake Ontario and ended with a rally at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto’s City Hall
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, the team’s longest-tenured player, enjoys Monday’s parade with the Larry O’Brien trophy
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard holds up his Finals MVP trophy during the Toronto parade
Lowry smiles as he holds the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy during Thursday’s parade through Toronto
Fans filled the intersection of Queen St. West and University Avenue during Thursday’s parade through the streets of Toronto
Millions are said to have turned out at the event to celebrate the Toronto Raptors historic NBA win on Monday
Some compared the national support the Raptors received in 2019 to the 1992 and 1993 Toronto Blue Jays, who became the first MLB franchise outside the US to win a World Series. Likewise, the Raptors are the first non-US NBA franchise to win a title
‘To finally have this great achievement, it’s really important to have front row seats to be able see and witness everything.’
Raptors coach Nick Nurse pictured with one of his two sons during Monday’s parade
‘I’ll probably tear up a little bit to be honest with you,’ he laughed.
Beforehand, Bartlett said fans can expect the ‘biggest party Toronto has ever seen on Monday.’
‘We got a few surprises up our sleeves but we are going to leave some of that for (Monday),’ he said. ‘I can guarantee you that each and every Toronto Raptor will be there as will our front office team.’
And Bartlett encouraged fans to wear any gear representing the team’s history in the city.
‘This is Canada’s team, so whether it be red, whether it be black and gold, whether it be the old school purple, wear it proud and be part of our 24-year-run to become world champions,’ he said.
Lowry, for one, wore a throwback Raptors jersey from the team’s inception in 1995.
Mayor John Tory declared Monday ‘We The North’ day to honor the team.
‘As we gather to celebrate the first NBA championship in Raptors’ history, I encourage everyone in our city to show our support, pride, love, and appreciation for this incredible team,’ reads the proclamation he signed.
Meanwhile, the defeated Warriors showed they had class when they took out a full-page ad in Monday’s Toronto Star to congratulate the Raptors on their first NBA title.
It features a black-and-white photo of Warriors point guard Stephen Curry hugging the Raptors’ Lowry after Game 6.
‘The Golden State Warriors congratulate the Toronto Raptors on their historic achievement and bringing the 2019 NBA championship to the City of Toronto,’ it read.
Mayor John Tory declared Monday ‘We The North Day’ in the City of Toronto
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, right, celebrates with performing artist Drake
The possibility that the parade will be attended by two million people is remarkable considering that Toronto has a population of 2.93 million
NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is expected to become a free agent this summer, and it’s not yet known if he will return to Toronto, where he’s suddenly a hero, or move to a new NBA team
Toronto’s City Hall can be seen from Nathan Phillips Square, where Monday’s rally took place
Estimates for Monday’s crowd ranged between 1.5 million and 2 million people
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry holds the Larry O’Brien trophy aloft during Monday’s parade
Basketball is not exactly new to Canada.
In 1947 the BAA, the NBA’s predecessor, held its first game in Toronto between the visiting New York Knickerbockers and the hometown Huskies, who formally disbanded before the second season.
Dr. James Naismith was actually born and raised in Ontario before going on to invent basketball at a YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 at the age of 30.
Of course, Toronto is the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the city has been identified with the NHL’s Maple Leafs since the franchise’s founding in 1917.
Recently though, Canada’s most populated city has struggled in its most popular sport as the Leafs are currently suffering through longest active title drought in the NHL at 52 years and counting.
Besides the Argonauts’ five most recent CFL titles, Toronto has not had a major championship to celebrate since the Blue Jays last won the World Series in 1993.
At the time, the Blue Jays were one of two Canadian franchise in Major League Baseball, along with the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals).
Members of the Toronto Blue Jays mob teammate Joe Carter after his game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in game 6 of the World Series on October 23, 1993
Fans pack Toronto streets after the Blue Jays win the second of their two World Series titles
Similarly, the Raptors were once part of a pair of Canadian franchises in the NBA, entering the league as an expansion franchise alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995.
But, after the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis in 2001, the Raptors took on the identity as Canada’s team, hence the slogan: ‘We the North.’
Bruce Kidd, a kinesiology and physical education professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in sports history, believes the Raptors came to symbolize a new ‘pan-Canadian’ fandom.
‘The Raptors are representative of what Canada is and what’s it’s becoming,’ Kidd told the Global News.
Whereas the country once lived and died with the NHL, now, Toronto’s Diana Macecevic explained, her boss was happy to give her the day off to enjoy an NBA victory parade.
‘This is a really exciting moment for Canada and the Raptors. They worked really hard for this,’ Macecevic, 31, told the Global News. ‘I’ve been a Raptors fan since I was a kid, and to see this accomplishment and to be a part of the celebrations is really special.’
Mayor John Tory said many businesses closed their doors on Monday.
‘I was talking to some people down in (Nathan Phillips Square) just now and they said indeed that their employers had said it was OK for them to come,’ Tory told CP24 on Monday morning.
‘I was hearing about a law firm where they had just given up. So many people were planning to go that they just gave up and said, ‘Well you should all go then,’ and they closed the office.’
Fans gather in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate the Raptors NBA title
Thousands of fans gather to cheers on the Toronto Raptors during the team’s parade Monday
Kyle Lowry waves to fans while holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy at Monday’ Raptors parade
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard smokes a cigar as he sits with his Finals MVP trophy
Two weeks from now, the Raptors’ roster might look as different as Danny Green’s combed-out mohawk with looming decisions from Leonard, Marc Gasol and Green that brought an air of uncertainty to Monday’s street party in Ontario.
Leonard will opt out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent.
The Raptors expected this bit of paperwork even before Leonard was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs last summer. What they won’t know until at least June 30 is whether Leonard ever will wear a Toronto uniform again.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and others are known to have serious interest in signing Leonard. Of course, the Raptors hope he will choose to stay put after carrying the franchise to its first title.
‘I don’t think there’s any other player of his caliber right now in the NBA,’ Gasol said. ‘He’s on a pedestal by himself.’
Gasol also has a player option he could decline. If Leonard leaves, the exodus behind him could be devastating.
‘Let’s not be foolish,’ said Green, whose tightly wound Mohawk was unfurled for Monday’s festivities with the top of the hairline about seven feet off the ground. ‘His decision affects a lot of guys’ decisions. He can change a whole organization.’
Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green smokes a cigar during Monday’s parade
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry raises the Larry O’Brien Trophy during Monday’s parade
Raptors president Masai Ujiri (right) celebrates the team’s first NBA Title on Monday in Toronto
Leonard’s words following the Finals-clinching win at Golden State are being analyzed, parsed and recycled in Toronto, where fans are hopeful he’ll be back.
In an interview last week that took place after the Raptors celebrated with beer and champagne in the locker room, Leonard said the victory was something ‘the Raptors can build on.’
Some took the separation of Leonard from the Raptors as a sign he’s as good as gone, likely to his home state of California and the Clippers.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said everyone is guessing at this point, and he’s not even sure Leonard knows where he’ll play in 2019-20.
‘I don’t really know,’ Nurse said. ‘I know he’s got to make a decision here really soon, couple of weeks. I think he had a good season and people like him here, and we can give him a good deal.’
Fans could be seen gathering along the square on Sunday evening, with many sleeping on the concrete overnight