Who needs WMD?


February 17, 2003, 02:59 PM
The story (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,78745,00.html) Stampede Kills 21 in Chicago Nightclub

CHICAGO — Hundreds of screaming clubgoers rushed to the exits of a crowded Chicago nightclub early Monday morning, crushing or smothering at least 21 people to death, officials said.

The stampede began when someone used a chemical spray — likely either pepper spray or Mace — to quell a fight between two women on the Epitome Night Club, located on the building's second floor, witnesses said.

All but one exit was locked or blocked, in some cases by bags of laundry from the first-floor restaurant.

Firefighters who responded to the 2:23 a.m. call of a pregnant woman injured at the club used sledgehammers and pry bars to open some of them so that people could be rescued, Fire Commissioner James Joyce said at a morning media briefing.

"There are people trying to get out that could not get out," Joyce said. "Locked and blocked doors are a contributing factor. We can't explain how management or ownership would allow that."

The locked doors were a fire code violation, Joyce said.

Authorities initially reported as many as 1,500 people were in the nightclub, but Joyce said he could not confirm that number. He said the first floor had an occupancy placard for 327 people, but the second-floor did not have a placard.

"Everybody smashed; people crying, couldn't breathe," said clubgoer Reggie Clark. "Two ladies next to me died. A guy under me passed out."

Chicago Police spokesman Pat Camden said 21 people were confirmed dead. Hospitals reported treating at least 50 for everything from critical injuries to asthma-like symptoms.

Authorities were in the process of notifying victims' next of kin. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office advised relatives seeking the missing to return at noon CST to identify bodies.

Authorities said 19 people were in cardiac arrest when emergency workers arrived at the club. Many of them were revived, but four were declared dead at the scene, he said.

"It appears a disturbance from within led to a mass chaos where people headed for the door. Most of the fatalities appear to have been crushed or had injuries due to suffocation," said police Officer Ozzie Rodriguez.

Witnesses said a fight between two women on the building's second floor prompted security guards to use pepper spray or Mace to break it up, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Police Commissioner Terry Hillard said investigators are trying to sort out conflicting stories about the source of the Mace or pepper spray.

"Lives were tragically and senselessly lost, pinned down by a stampeding crowd," Hillard said.

Police were trying to retrieve and download "high-tech video" from inside the club, and Hillard asked anyone who was at the club at the time to call the police department.

"We will get to the bottom of this," Hillard said. "Right now our investigation is at full tilt."

In the rush that ensued, patrons stampeded down a staircase to the club's front door after finding a side exit chained shut, the newspaper reported witnesses as saying.

Cory Thomas, 33, of Chicago went to the club about 3 a.m. to pick up two friends. As he waited outside, he saw people inside the club start to back up against the glass front door.

"You could see a mound of people. People were stacking on top of each other, screaming and gagging, I guess from the pepper spray. The door got blocked because there were too many people stacked up against it," he said.

"I saw them taking out a pregnant woman," Thomas said. "She was in bad shape. I saw at least 10 lifeless bodies."

Thomas said that when the fire department arrived, they cut a chain on a side door so that people could get out. "The front door was the only way out of there," he said.

Kristy Mitchell, 22, of Gary, Ind., was one of the people trampled on the stairway.

"People were stomping my legs," she said. "When they pulled me up, I was dizzy and I couldn't breathe."

Knight said the total number of injuries was unclear because many of those with minor injuries were being taken to hospitals by family and friends.

Amishoov Blackwell, 30, was checking his coat on the second floor when people started rushing past him. The flow of the crowd pushed him back down the stairs and he fell on top of several people, he said. He was trapped on top of the others until firefighters rescued him about 30 minutes later.

"It wasn't nothing but two girls fighting," Blackwell said. "Why'd they have to spray Mace?"

Hours after the disaster, Chiquita Rhodes was still searching for her 19-year-old sister, Charita.

"I've been to every emergency room," Rhodes said. She was told by officials to return to the medical examiner's office around noon, when the bodies would be available for relatives to identify.

She said Charita was holding onto a friend, but they were separated in the crush. A firefighter found Charita's cell phone, she added.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived at the scene early Monday and urged community members to help each other.

"We are asking area ministers to go to hospitals," Jackson said. "My people are overwhelmed with the suddenness of this. At a time like this, you have to lean on your faith."

The president of a Chicago entertainment agency that has booked acts at the club said access to the building was unsafe for large crowds.

"The doorway was obviously inadequate for an emergency," said Ron Onesti of Onesti Entertainment Co. "When the place is filled to capacity, the doorway is very thin."

Photographs on Onesti's Web site depict packed crowds at the nightclub. Onesti maintained that his agency had nothing to do with managing the club and hadn't had any dealings involving it in about a year.

The melee marks one of the nation's deadliest stampedes.

In December 1991, nine young people were crushed to death in a gymnasium stairwell while awaiting a celebrity basketball game in New York.

In December 1979, 11 people were killed in Cincinnati in a crush to get into a concert by The Who.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Now I'm not saying this was an act for foreign terrorist.

Next thing the .gov will ban will be pepper spray.:rolleyes:

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February 17, 2003, 03:08 PM
Pepperrrr sprrray baaaad! Sheeeeple staaampeeede!:uhoh: :banghead:

February 17, 2003, 03:16 PM

Dang, give the sheople of this country half a chance they'll kill themselves.

Whe needs foreign terrorists?:banghead:

February 17, 2003, 03:26 PM
HUM... I was born & raised in Chicago. Tragic, very disturbing news. This sounds like something right out out of a third world country. Don't worry however DA MAYOR will probably ban dancing next...

Larry :scrutiny:

February 17, 2003, 03:32 PM
Maby the public (sheeple) should have access to a facility in every town where they can be exposed to CS. This way they'll know what they meet out there...
Is the everyday joe in the US realy that scared these days, that a whiff of a strange odor makes him run away? :confused:
(I am in no way judging anyone here).


February 17, 2003, 03:44 PM
Does anyone remember the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Northern Kentucky about 20-25 years ago? Same basic situation where the crowd panicked (only there it was older folks) and the trampled folks at the doors blocked the exits even worse. Bunches died from the fire/smoke.

Right after that, my family went out to eat (at Joe Bologna's in Lexington, when they were at the strip mall), and my mother was VERY uptight about being far from an exit. Until I pointed out that we were seated right next to a window, and that large blunt objects were available to use to remove said window.

Lesson 1) Maintain situational awareness.

Lesson 2) Always know your emergency exits, both "standard" and improvised.

February 17, 2003, 03:50 PM
I thought this stuff only existed in the 3rd world.

Chicago doesn't need guns, they're doing fine with their own paws.

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