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Go BackChaos In Caracas: Shooting at Carl Cox gig leaves four dead.

Posted: 5/11/07 14:23

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On Saturday night, 3 November, in Caracas hordes of young Venezualan techno fans gathered at La Rinconada Terrace to hear Carl Cox DJ as part of the Network Noise festival organised by local promoters Pacific Productions. What should have been an ordinary night out turned into a horror show as a gunman opened fire in the crowded club. The footage of the event and its immediate aftermath on YouTube starts like any of a million and one other YouTube videos, red and blue lights swirl around as Carl Cox's head bobs along to the beat. Suddenly there's a flurry of noise: it sounds like popcorn popping, or fireworks going off.

For a full 20 seconds or so nothing changes, Cox is still mixing, the lights are still going then someone pulls him down behind the decks, the music fades out and the sound of screams and chaos fades in. The next three minutes of the video are among the most disturbing imaginable. After a few seconds focused on the empty decks the camera turns and faces the room. People are standing around, confused. Someone is helping a visibly wounded partier while two or three other bloodstained bodies lie sprawled on the floor. Kids are milling about, directionless; there are whistles and shouts. In the front of the shot a girl with waist-length black hair twirls frantically, looking for help.

Significantly, there is no sign of security, no one in a uniform anywhere. Someone is filming with their camera phone. Another man is standing nonchalantly sipping a beer while a boy with a bloodied leg sits a few feet away. Finally, as clubbers carry one wounded man away from the scene two security guards are seen standing half-heartedly between the rest of the dead or injured clubbers and the crowd. Then, suddenly, people start running again. There is what sounds like two more shots. Some punters race for the exits some, inexplicably, are seen still standing around the edges of the room, as if not sure what to make of it all. A security guard runs toward the door too. As the room clears bodies are clearly visible, lying where they fell on the cold concrete floor.

It's almost too much to believe. If it were a few days earlier it might be a sick Halloween prank, but it's not. On vjforums.com is an account by the VJ who claims to have shot the YouTube footage. "Last night, 15 meter from me when Carl Cox started his show and 10 minutes into it some one started to shot every one. I sounded like firecrackers, so fast I didn't think was a gun. Everybody started to run like crazy. I was in the main, doing my visuals and filming the show. I just grabbed the camera and started to film everything what was going on. 3 dead body's [sic] on the floor, a young guy, a woman and a man. The husband of the woman was shot as well in the leg. Several others people as well but they managed to run," he writes.

English-language information is still spotty but there are a host of eyewitness accounts in Spanish posted on Martin Valero's blog: Read here. The exact number of dead/injured is not 100% clear. It seems at least three, maybe four, died while up to nine were wounded. On the blog clubbers are universally derisive about the security. One attendee reports only being asked if they were carrying cigarettes. Another demands to know why there wasn't even a metal detector in place. Others report not being searched at all, and problems inside the club which was apparently so disorganised they ran out of VIP bracelets, leading to more confusion with security.

What’s striking, simply from watching the video, is in the four minutes immediately following the shooting there is no form of official intervention. No one gets on the mic to tell the clubbers what’s happened, or ask them to clear the room. Security seems non-existent. There doesn’t appear to be any medical staff at all. “Por DIOS que pasa con la seguridad en este tipo de eventos? ” demands one blogger – echoing what must be on the mind of anyone who sees the video footage. While one blogger remarks “Este es el reflejo del país que tenemos: un país sin ley” [“this is a reflection of the country we have: a country without law”] the majority of the witnesses and those close to the event place the blame squarely on the security and promoters.

Surely, the more dangerous an environment around a club the more stringent care promoters should take to make their events safe. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a traumatic event to shake things up. In London a spate of club shootings and stabbings prompted increased security measures and use of metal detectors. If that happens in Caracas perhaps something positive will come out of this tragedy.



Words by IV