CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Seventeen people were killed at a crowded nightclub in Venezuela’s capital Saturday after a tear gas device exploded during a brawl and triggered a desperate stampede among hundreds gathered for a graduation celebration, government officials said.
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the incident at the “Los Cotorros” club in the middle-class neighborhood of El Paraiso left eight minors dead and five injured. Eight people were detained, including two teens believed responsible for setting off the tear gas canister.
Family members wept and embraced one another after identifying the remains of their loved ones at a nearby hospital. Outside the club, several mismatched shoes, including a sandal with a puckered red lip decoration, lay on the sidewalk.
“All I know is my son is dead,” Nilson Guerra, 43, told local journalists.
More than 500 people were believed to be inside the club when the fight broke out.
Julio Cesar Perdomo said his injured son told him the tear gas was launched from inside a bathroom and that partygoers tried to flee but found the club’s door closed. Pictures posted by Reverol on Twitter show a narrow staircase leading to a metal door.
“The kids couldn’t leave,” Perdomo said.