Victim struggles in ICU after shooting following Nuggets’ NBA Finals win

One of the shooting victims from this week’s violence in downtown Denver has had multiple surgeries and was facing more as he lay in an intensive-care-unit bed Friday with a tube draining fluids from his body, an example of how wanton gunfire in crowded streets spreads pain.

A May graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, Keith Sablan, 24, had been hoping to become a financial advisor and work his way up in the banking and investing industry — an optimistic and resilient young man with ambitions, according to friends. Sablan went downtown Monday night to celebrate the Denver Nuggets’ NBA championship victory. He’s one of at least 10 people wounded — he was hit directly with three bullets, one shattering his lower leg — when a gunfight broke out with at least 20 shots fired amid a crowd of revelers shortly after midnight near 20th and Market streets. Police who chased down two suspects have said they believe the shooting was related to a fentanyl drug deal.

“He’s in a ton of pain,” Sablan’s friend Tim Burke, 25, wrote in a text from a hospital Friday morning.

Sablan could not speak. He and his family members were anticipating massive medical bills.

“Keith is a smart, fun, witty adventurous, well-rounded person. He just graduated from college and was ready to start his new life and career. His life has almost been taken from him by these acts of violence. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, an innocent bystander,” said Burke, who graduated from Cherokee Trail High School a year ahead of Sablan and who has organized a GoFundMe campaign to help cover medical and recovery costs.

This shooting during the downtown celebration “shows the unfortunate times we are in. You just have to internalize it. You just don’t know when you leave if you are going to come back home. A lot of us know that,” he said. “But you cannot really understand it until this happens to someone you know.”

Denver Health Medical Center officials said surgeons conducted four emergency operations concurrently early Tuesday to deal with the injuries in the aftermath of the shooting. At least one of the other victims reportedly was up, walking, and able to eat, Burke said. Hospital officials said five shooting victims still were hospitalized Friday with one classified in serious condition and four in fair condition.

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