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Eight hurt after NBA playoff game in Oklahoma; police seek motive

May 22, 2012|By Dalina Castellanos

High-profile sports wins have been known to incite fans to fight, set cars on fire, even riot, but the Oklahoma City Thunder’s win over theL.A. Lakers apparently isn't to blame for the gunfire that wounded seven people in the wake of Monday night's game. Another woman was also injured in the incident.

About 11:30 p.m., more than 18,000 ticket holders poured out of the Chesapeake Energy Arena to join thousands of other fans celebrating in the streets nearby, Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson told the Los Angeles Times.

As the celebrants merged with the existing crowd in nearby Bricktown – a revitalized area of downtown – a group of women “got into it with a group of guys,” Nelson said.

“We don’t know why, but a man pulled out a gun and began shooting.”

Seven people were transported to hospitals with gunshot wounds, and a pregnant woman was treated for blunt trauma injury, which Nelson said could be a punch or kick. On Tuesday, one person remained in critical condition; victims' names had not been released.

The large crowds and commotion made it difficult for officers nearby to respond to the scene or pin down a suspect, much less figure out a motive.

“We can’t attribute the shooting to the game or the fans,” Nelson said. “The people involved could have been leaving a theater or a club, we simply don’t know.”

The late-night incident seemed to garner more attention in Oklahoma City’s social media circles than did the Thunder’s advance in the NBA playoffs, but police say that the plethora of tweets and Facebook posts might not prove beneficial to the investigation. In fact, it could prove a hindrance.

“We can’t verify the information that is popping up on the Internet,” Nelson said.

Videos on You Tube might give investigators an idea of who was involved in the shooting, Nelson said, but -- if the footage isn't delivered to police immediately after the incident -- it could be of questionable value.

“When [witnesses] don’t come to us with that information, we can use it, but we can’t authenticate it.”

Police are asking area businesses for surveillance footage to assist with the investigation.

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dalina.castellanos@latimes.com


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