A day after family members visited the charred site of a deadly nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., the state attorney general said the nightclub owners have not answered questions from investigators about the blaze that killed 97 people. State Attorney General Patrick Lynch said today (Feb. 24) that Jeffrey Derderian has not answered questions since Thursday night when the Station, which he owns with his brother, burned to the ground. He said Michael Derderian has never answered questions.
“Other evidence has been gathered. Other people have spoken. When that happens, sometimes you need to revisit people to ask questions,” Lynch said. “I believe the Derderians might be able to provide some answers that may assist all of us.”
Lynch would not comment on whether search warrants had been sought or executed, but said: “As a part of any investigation, sometimes search warrants are necessary.” Phone messages left with the Derderians’ attorney were not immediately returned.
Lynch said the band Great White, whose pyrotechnic display was the apparent cause of the fire, has been cooperative. The band has returned to Los Angeles without guitarist Ty Longley, whose name was officially added to the list of dead. “The band’s a mess,” said band attorney Ed McPherson on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Messages Longley‘s and singer Jack Russell‘s Web sites confirmed the guitarist’s death. “The thoughts and prayers of everybody associated with the band goes out to every person that has been affected by this tragedy,” Russell’s Great White site says. “There are no words to express our sadness at the loss everybody has suffered.”
Gov. Don Carcieri said Monday that 13 more victims had been identified, bringing the total of confirmed dead to 55. About 80 survivors remained hospitalized Monday, and about half of them were listed in critical condition.
Sunday, under gray skies and rain, family members gathered at the site where they prayed and wept for the dozens who were unable to escape the inferno. They left behind flowers, photographs, poems and stuffed animals.
“These families are going through such a tragedy, such an emotional odyssey right now, and their hearts are broken, and they still don’t know in many cases whether their loved one has been positively ID’d,” Carcieri said.
After the families mourned privately, about 150 people crowded into a small chapel for a memorial service filled with song and prayer. “We came to pray for the families and the victims,” said Teresa McQuiggan, 76, of East Providence, who like many others at the service didn’t know any of the victims. “And last but not least, we’re here to pray for the dead.”
Meanwhile, investigators continued to pore over the rubble and interview witnesses and victims. The governor said that a moratorium on pyrotechnic displays had been issued for clubs in the state accommodating 50 to 300 people, and deputy fire marshals were being dispatched to inspect them.
Sunday was the first time the victims’ parents, siblings, and children were allowed to walk up to the charred rubble of the club. Several people were overcome with emotion. At least one had to be taken to an ambulance. “There was, as one would expect, a lot of hugging, a lot of crying,” Carcieri said.
A chain-link fence ringing the site was hung with mementos – from flowers to photographs. A photo collage titled “Our Loving Mother” lay among the hundreds of items. The smiling woman was blowing out her birthday cake in one picture; laughing, hugging her children in another. “We have not given up hope,” read a note from the family of a 30-year-old who remains missing.
“It’s unbelievable,” said James Morris, 36, who along with his two sons were among a steady stream of mourners who stopped by. “It’s just awful. They were all young guys in their 20s, early 30s.” Morris, of Warwick, said he was supposed to attend the concert Thursday night, but didn’t feel like going out. Six of his friends did go and haven’t been heard from since.
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