Toronto (Canada), .- Around two million people participated today in Toronto (Canada) of the parade of the Raptors basketball team as NBA champion at a party that was marred by a shooting that left two people seriously injured .
The celebration could turn into a tragedy even worse by the two almost consecutive stampedes that caused the shooting in the middle of the crowd.
The shooting took place at around 4:00 pm local time (20:00 GMT) on one of the corners of Nathan Phillips Square, the square in front of the Toronto City Hall building and where the stage for the celebrations had been set up.
At the time of the shooting and the two subsequent stampedes, the players of the Toronto Raptors had already taken their seats on the stand together with the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in front of some 65,000 people who crowded the square at that time.
While the mayor of Toronto, John Tory, dressed in his usual gold Raptors jacket, was delivering his welcome speech, the crowd began to panic from the southeast corner of Nathan Phillips Square to the north and west.
In the chaos, several people were injured, trampled by the crowd. After a few minutes, there was a second stampede that would have had more dramatic consequences if part of the square had not been partially emptied after the first moment of panic.
Subsequently, the Toronto Police reported that there had been a shooting in which four people were injured, two of them seriously, and that he arrested three people and seized two firearms.
While the shooting and stampedes took place, the ceremony continued on stage as if nothing happened and only after several minutes of chaos and confusion, the master of ceremonies reported that there had been “an incident” and asked the audience to keep the calm and continue enjoying the “historic” achievement.
Much of the public decided to stay in the square, but a good number of people left the place after the two stampedes.
Meanwhile, on stage, some of the main players of the Raptors took turns in front of the microphone to thank the city for hosting and praising their other teammates.
Marc Gasol, one of the team’s figures since he was signed by the Raptors in February this year, sat in the front row with Trudeau. On several occasions they saw the two laugh and chat animatedly.
Although Gasol did not take the microphone on stage, the Spanish center did comment during the journey through the streets of Toronto that he did not want to think about the fact that he has entered the basketball history books when he became, along with his brother Pau, in the only two brothers who have the title of NBA champion.
Gasol told television that the moment was to think about his teammates and what they have achieved as a team.
The Catalan player was seen on the open bus in which the Raptors toured the streets of Toronto gesticulating to the crowd to encourage even more if possible to the fans.
The one who took the microphone on stage was the Spanish-Congolese Serge Ibaka, who maintains a YouTube channel in which he cooks exotic foods for his teammates.
Ibaka addressed the crowd and told them he knew that Toronto had been “hungry” for years. “That’s why my teammates and I have cooked this trophy,” said Ibaka, pointing to the Larry O’Brian trophy won by the NBA champion amid the laughter of the crowd and Trudeau’s applause.
Authorities estimate that about 65,000 people were concentrated in Nathan Phillips Square while around one million people were in the vicinity.
Another million was placed on the sidewalks of the road that traveled the buses that transported the team of the Raptors. Initially, the buses were scheduled to make the journey in two hours, but the number of people gathered in the streets extended the journey to five hours.
The Toronto Raptors won for the first time in their history the NBA championship by defeating on Thursday night in the sixth game of the series to the Golden State Warriors in Oakland (USA) by 110-114.
It is also the first time in history that a Canadian team has won the NBA title. Julio César Rivas. (EFE)