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10 Years Later: Families Still Want Closure After E2 Tragedy

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CHICAGO (CBS) — It will go down in history as one of the worst tragedies this city has ever seen. Ten years ago on February 17, 2003 in the early hours of the morning, 21 people died — the result of a stampede at E2 nightclub.

CBS 2 went back to the site of the former club to see how the victims are being remembered.

On this 10 year anniversary, at 2:24 a.m., family and friends gathered outside the former E2 nightclub in the 2300 block of South Michigan. They were remembering brothers, sisters, cousins, and even parents.

Sunday morning, 21 balloons were released to remember every person killed that day in a stampede for the exit. The stampede ensued after pepper spray was used inside to break-up a fight.

Some club patrons were trampled, others were trapped in the club’s stairway.

“It’s still like it’s fresh. I just look up at this building and know that 21 people was in here and got trapped. I just don’t understand,” said Tresha Brown Robinson, whose brother, Robert Brown died that day.

Crosses with the names and pictures of each victim were lined-up outside the building Sunday, as the memories came flooding back.

“Even though I didn’t know half of these people, but I do know them because they left here with my brother,” said Robinson.

William Johnson, who lost his sister, Teresa Johnson-Gordon says, “My mom told me about it. She was watching the news and she said you know, she’s praying for the families of those that were going through the situation and then she found out we were a part of the situation.”

The crosses are expected to stay in place for the next week.

Charges against the owners of E2 nightclub were overturned, and 10 years later, the case is still playing out in the Illinois Supreme Court on an appeal.

Those affected by this tragedy say they just want closure and someone to be held accountable for the loss.
“Just being very hopeful that everything comes to a quick end. You know, it’s been a long time and we just want to have that closure from the departments that need to be addressed,” said Johnson.

Another event marking the anniversary occurred Sunday afternoon.