CARACAS,Venezuela — Venezuela’s government says 17 people were killed early Saturday after a tear gas device was set off during a nightclub brawl in the capital, triggering a stampede among hundreds of people gathered for a graduation celebration.
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said eight minors were among those killed. Another five people were injured.
He said one of those involved in the fight set off the tear gas device during a celebration at “Los Cotorros” club in the middle-class neighborhood of El Paraiso, triggering the stampede of more than 500 partygoers who fled in a mad, choking frenzy.
Images circulated on Twitter showed shoes scattered outside what appeared to be the club and people embracing one another, some wiping away tears.
Reverol did not give any motive behind the brawl.
“The establishment has been ordered closed, and we are investigating in coordination with the public ministry, which is directing the criminal investigation,” Reverol said.
He also said seven people were arrested, including the owner of the club and the person who is believed to have launched the explosive device.
He said the owner had permitted weapons into the club that threatened the “integrity” of the establishment.
Most of the injured were being treated at nearby hospitals, and one minor was in serious condition. (AP)