Italian police arrest teenager in connection with nightclub stampede that claimed six lives

Italian police arrested a teenager on suspicion that he may have triggered a deadly nightclub stampede by letting off pepper spray in order to steal jewellery and other valuables from revelers.

The stampede inside the club in Corinaldo in central Italy in the early hours of Saturday claimed the lives of six people – five teenagers and a 39-year-old woman who had accompanied her daughter to a rap concert held at the venue.

They were crushed to death after a metal railing on a concrete exit ramp collapsed, pitching dozens of people to the ground. More than 50 people were injured.

Police detained and questioned a 16-year-old boy who may have set off the spray, leading to panic and the deadly crush, Italian media reported. They also arrested two other minors on drug offences.

Witnesses said they saw a teenage boy try to steal a gold necklace from a young woman in the crowd.

He was identified with the help of videos taken by concertgoers on their mobile phones.

The Italian media speculated that the teenager was part of a gang which used the pepper spray as a diversion in order to steal wallets, phones and jewellery from people inside the Lanterna Azzurra club.

There have been at least 20 similar cases in other nightclubs and discos around northern Italy alone in the last two years.

Teenagers who fled the nightclub reported detecting an acrid smell shortly before pandemonium broke out.

On Sunday, police found a can of pepper spray at the venue.

“Pepper spray has saved many women from assault and rape – but it has to be used in a responsible manner,” said Matteo Salvini, the interior minister.

“Anyone found abusing it will be arrested, whether they are a minor or not.”

Police are investigating whether the venue sold tickets to more people than it had capacity for.

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