At least one person was shot and dozens arrested in Lexington, Ky., early this morning as University of Kentucky students celebrated the school’s NCAA basketball championship win.
What began as a chaotic celebration quickly turned into mayhem overnight as a crowd of 15,000 people rioted in the streets after the Wildcats defeated Kansas for their eighth championship win. Fire officials in Lexington said they put out more than 40 fires, including a car, several mattresses, couches and piles of garbage that were ignited.
The lone gunman, who left one man injured, remains on the loose.
Battalion Chief Ed Davis of the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services witnessed the shooting firsthand as he was filling out paperwork on a wreck involving a fire engine around 2 a.m. Davis told the Associated Press he heard yelling and then one man firing a gun, “quite a few times.”
The gunman then disappeared into the crowd and behind buildings, eluding arrest, authorities said. The victim, said to be in his 30s, was taken to a nearby hospital with what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries.
Crowds began filling the streets surrounding the campus moments after the championship game came to an end. Authorities said they arrested several dozen people and handed out numerous citations for offenses such as alcohol intoxication, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
Nearly 20 people were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment, most involving alcohol or injuries from fights or having been hit by thrown objects, Chief Davis said.
Despite the chaos, this morning’s riots were deemed milder than what the city experienced during the weekend when Kentucky defeated its in-state rival, Louisville, in the NCAA semifinals, and rowdy fans again ignited fires and turned over cars.
Lexington police warned fans earlier Monday that unruly behavior would not be tolerated and made a point of increasing their presence around campus Monday night.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto also encouraged students to celebrate respectfully, saying the rowdy behavior detracted from the success of the players ”who have worked tirelessly to represent UK at a national level.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.