Three young teens were among the dozen killed during a crowd stampede in a Mexico City nightclub reportedly triggered June 20th by a police raid after reports of underage drinking and drugs. Three police officers also died.
Officers involved in the raid, including the police director who led the action, have been suspended as a result. Police were accused of blocking News Divine’s only emergency exit, leaving panicked clubgoers to attempt to break windows to escape.
The club was packed with some 500 young people, well over capacity, celebrating the end of the school year. Three teens – ages 13, 14 and 16 – died. Mexico City’s legal drinking age is 18.
Another dozen people were injured, three seriously, according to city prosecutor Rodolfo Felix Cardenas.
"The city is indignant," Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said during a news conference the next day. "What we saw yesterday was ethically unacceptable."
City officials said the public servants directly involved in the raid have been suspended.
Julieta Coronel Mejia, whose two nieces were injured, said police entered the club and began pushing people, possibly helping spark the stampede.
Ebrard acknowledge that there were "serious errors" in the raid and apparent irregularities in the operation of the bar. "This place should not have been operating," he said.
Juan Carlos Maya, a club employee and the brother of owner Alfredo Maya, acknowledged that alcohol was being served but said patrons were asked for identification at the bar.
The club was holding one of the afternoon "tardeada" parties popular among clubbers as young as 16, although only patrons 18 and older are allowed to drink alcohol.
Maya said he could not explain why the 13- and 14-year-olds were inside. His brother and three others, all apparently club employees, were being held as suspects in the case. Maya acknowledged the club had been closed for violations in the past.
But he showed the club’s liquor license and an inspection certificate from 2007 and said police blocked the emergency exit, apparently to prevent suspects from escaping.
Police Chief Joel Ortega said the exit was obstructed by cases of beer and denied reports that officers threw tear gas inside the club.