2 US officials shot at Caracas strip club

2013-05-29 10:01
The front entrance of Antonella 2012 strip bar in Caracas. (Leo Ramirez, AFP)

The front entrance of Antonella 2012 strip bar in Caracas. (Leo Ramirez, AFP)

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Caracas — Two officials from the US Embassy suffered gunshot wounds early on Tuesday during an altercation at a strip club in Venezuela's crime-ridden capital, police and US State Department officials said. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The circumstances of the shooting were unclear, with conflicting reports over whether it happened inside or outside the Antonella 2012 nightclub.

Police said the two US officials were shot following a brawl inside the club, which is in the basement of a shopping centre in the upper-middle-class Chacao neighbourhood. A woman who works at the club said the two men got into a fight with each other.

The club's Twitter account features racy photos of nude or scantily clad women pole dancing, posing inside cages or reclining on beds. The text under one photo invites visitors to come and watch the club's "sexy show".

"Apparently it was a fight originating in a nightspot where these people were attacked and shots were fired at them and they suffered gunshot wounds," police spokesperson Douglas Rico told TV channel Globovision at the health clinic where the victims were taken. He said one was shot in the leg and abdomen and the other was shot in the abdomen.

A police official identified one of the victims as military attaché Roberto Ezequiel Rosas. She said he was shot in the right leg during an argument outside the night club in Chacao, which is east of the city centre.

Metal detectors

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to release the information publicly, said she had no information on suspects.

Deisy Ron, who identified herself as the club's artistic director, told The Associated Press that she wasn't at work when the shooting happened, but said employees she supervises told her that the men got into an argument and started throwing punches inside the club.

"They were fighting with each other," she said. "One of them pulled out a gun and shot the other in the stomach and the leg."

Ron said she didn't know how the other man was injured or how he managed to bring a firearm inside the club, which has metal detectors at the entrance.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson William Ostick confirmed that "two members of the US Embassy in Caracas were injured during an incident early this morning".

"Medical staff inform us that their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening," Ostick said. "Embassy security and health unit personnel are at the hospital and have been in touch with the two individuals and their families."

High homicide rate

Patrick Ventrell, another State Department spokesperson, told reporters that the incident happened in "some sort of social spot or somewhere outside of the embassy grounds".

"I am not sure if it was a restaurant, or a nightclub, or what the actual establishment was, but that is why we are in touch with embassy personnel," he said.

An Associated Press reporter who went to the scene saw no obvious signs of a shooting, though plain-clothes police officers were investigating the area outside the club.

A Spanish sign saying "gun-free zone" and with a pistol crossed out was posted next to the entrance. Another sign said the club doesn't allow entry to couples, unaccompanied women or anyone under 30 years old.

Crime is a serious problem for Venezuela, which has one of the world's highest homicide rates.

Venezuela's government expelled two US military attaches in March for allegedly talking to members of the country's armed forces. Washington responded by ejecting two Venezuelan diplomats.

Read more on:    us  |  venezuela

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