CARACAS, VENEZUELA.- 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. Seven people have been detained, including the individual believed to have set off the tear gas canister.
“The establishment has been ordered closed, and we are investigating in coordination with the public ministry, which is directing the criminal investigation,” he said. 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. Photos shared online from previous celebrations at the club show a dark interior with wooden tables and a stage upfront where DJs shuffled songs.
Outside, a faded sign on the red brick building read, “We’ve opened!” Metal bars covered the doors and windows.