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Denver Nugget point guard Jamal Murray, left, sprays champagne on the parade float following the team’s NBA championship win, Thursday, June 15, 2023, in downtown Denver. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

A Denver police officer could lose his leg after he was struck by and caught under a fire truck rounding a corner as it carried several Denver Nuggets players during Thursday’s parade celebrating the team’s NBA championship.

Sgt. Justin Dodge, a veteran SWAT officer, was trying to protect some paradegoers from traffic when the truck hit him about 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of West 13th Avenue and Cherokee Street, Denver police Chief Ron Thomas said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. 

Dodge was trapped under the truck, resulting in a “very significant lower leg injury,” Thomas said. 

Sgt. Justin Dodge has served with the Denver Police Department as an officer since 1997, the department said. (Photo provided by Denver Police Department)

“As of right now, we can’t say necessarily what the outcome will be, but I can guarantee you that our orthopedic services will do everything possible to preserve the limb,” Stephen Wolf, director of emergency medicine at Denver Health Medical Center, said. 

As of Friday morning, Dodge was still in serious condition, a spokeswoman from Denver Health Medical Center said. The Denver Police Department declined to share additional details citing privacy concerns.

About an hour later, as people were leaving the downtown area, two people were shot at 17th and Curtis streets downtown. Both were in serious condition, Thomas said. The shooter remains at large.

Thomas said he believed the shooting was unrelated to the parade and a result of “individuals armed with weapons, acting irresponsibly in our community.” 

In an interview at the crime scene, paradegoers Joy and Leyla Castillo told The Colorado Sun they witnessed the attack as they were crossing Curtis street at about 12:30 p.m., on their way back to Union Station to catch the train home.

As they crossed the street, Leyla saw a man pull out a gun and point it at a group at the curb. He fired it, then took off running north on 17th.

Leyla and four others in her group ended up with injuries that police think came from casings. They sprinted to the nearest building, Independence Plaza, then crossed the street to a Charles Schwab where 30 or so other witnesses were huddled.

The shooting comes only two days after 10 people were wounded in what police say was a drug deal gone wrong as Nuggets fans filled the streets Monday night and early Tuesday morning to celebrate the team’s win against the Miami Heat. 

Answering a reporter’s question, Thomas said he believed the city’s downtown was still safe but needs to address the gun violence plaguing its streets. 

“Unfortunately we have again, far too many guns in our society, far too many individuals that act irresponsibly with guns and that’s certainly something that we as a community need to continue to address,” he said. 

Outgoing Mayor Michael Hancock condemned the gun violence that spoiled a parade he felt otherwise “went very well.” 

“Rest assured that our Denver Police Department will not rest until we apprehend the individuals who are responsible for today’s shootings and unfortunately injured two people,” Hancock said. “Shame on them for once again, marring what had been otherwise a pretty successful event for the entire state of Colorado.”

Police made two arrests during the parade — one for a weapons offense and the other for a person who was involved in a disturbance and found to have an open warrant, Thomas said.

Sun writer Parker Yamasaki contributed reporting to this story.

Olivia Prentzel covers breaking news and a wide range of other important issues impacting Coloradans for The Colorado Sun, where she has been a staff writer since 2021. At The Sun, she has covered wildfires, criminal justice, the environment,...