4 Indicted In Nightclub Stampede

Dwain Kyles, right, president and owner of Le Mirage Inc., which owns both the Epitome Restaurant and the E2 nightclub, where 21 people died in a stampede early Monday morning, meets reporters after a meeting in the Chicago corporate counsel's office Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003, where he accepted a summons to appear in court. At left is Le Mirage attorney Andre Grant. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
A grand jury has handed down manslaughter indictments against four people linked to a stampede at a nightclub earlier this year that left 21 people dead, according to newspaper reports.

Charged are nightclub owner Dwain Kyles, his alleged partner Calvin Hollins Jr., and party promoter Marco Flores, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times reported in Tuesday editions. The Sun-Times identified Hollins' son, Calvin Hollins III, 29, a manager at the club, as the fourth defendant.

The men were expected to appear in court Tuesday for bond hearings. Involuntary manslaughter carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine's office declined comment about the reports to The Associated Press. Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately return calls to the AP.

The Feb. 17 stampede at the E2 nightclub started after someone used pepper spray to break up a dance-floor fight. Patrons fled for the doors, crushing each other in a narrow staircase.

The complaint alleges the owners violated a July 2002 court order demanding the building's second floor be closed. Their attorneys have argued the order referred only to balconies above the second floor and have repeatedly said the case should not be handled in criminal court.

Flores controlled Envy Productions and Entertainment, the company that ran the ill-fated party at E2. Calvin Hollins Jr.'s attorney, Thomas Royce, has repeatedly said his client had no link with the company that owned and operated E2.

Kyles and Calvin Hollins Jr. earlier pleaded innocent to contempt of court charges for violating an order to close E2 because of building code violations.

Joseph R. Lopez, lawyer for Flores, 32, expressed shock to the Tribune at the grand jury's action. "I don't think there's any criminal intent on behalf of these men, and there's nothing that qualifies that type of charge."