Police have arrested a hotel owner and doorman on suspicion of manslaughter today after three teenagers were killed during a St Patrick’s Day disco stampede on Sunday.
Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard, both 17, and Connor Currie, 16 were killed when pushing broke out in a crowd of around 700 teenagers waiting to get into the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Northern Ireland.
Around 100 young people were pushed off their feet in a mass of bodies against the closed gates of the venue, which was hosting a St Patrick’s Day disco that evening.
Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed two arrests this evening, saying men aged 52 and 40 had been taken into custody.
The owner of the Greenvale Hotel, Michael McElhatton, is understood to be one of the men arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
While a member of the door staff at the hotel is thought to be the other suspect detained.
Lines of police tape have been strung across the courtyard outside the popular venue, where bottles shoes and bags are still scattered across the ground
Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard, both 17, lost their lives in the horrifying crush on Sunday night
It is understood that the owner of the Greenvale Hotel, Michael McElhatton (pictured), is one of the men arrested on suspicion of manslaughter
Heartfelt tributes were paid to teenage gaelic footballer Connor Currie who died in Sunday night’s horrifying crush of teenagers waiting to get into a St Patrick’s Day disco
Students from Holy Trinity College leave floral tributes outside The Greenvale Hotel today following the death of three teenagers
Students were visibly upset as they left tributes to three teenagers who died in a disco stampede on Sunday
Tributes have been placed outside the hotel all day (pictured are students today), and eyewitnesses have described scenes of chaos on the night of the deaths
A statement from the force said: ‘Detectives from PSNI Major Investigation Team investigating the deaths of three teenagers at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Saint Patrick’s Day have arrested two men aged 52 and 40 earlier today on suspicion of manslaughter.
‘They are currently in custody’.
Multiple eyewitness accounts have described the horror of teens fighting to breathe and screaming hysterically for space to move as dozens were knocked off their feet and crushed down at the event.
Connor Currie, 16, who played for Edendork St Malachy’s GAA club, was one of three young people to lose their lives.
In a tribute on Facebook the club said: ‘We are deeply saddened and devastated to hear of the tragic passing of our much loved and highly thought of player and member Connor Currie.
‘Connor will forever be remembered with the greatest affection by all associated with our club and indeed the wider Edendork community.’
Morgan Barnard, 17, whose Facebook profile shows a young man’s love of football and cars, was also killed.
In a harrowing account of that night’s terrible scenes one friend called him an ‘angel’, recalling that she had spoken to him only moments before his death.
And Lauren Bullock, a Year 13 student at St Patrick’s College in Dungannon, also died in the awful crush.
The party Lauren and friends attended was supposed to be a celebration of St Patrick’s Day
Lauren’s cheerleading coach paid emotional tribute to her student, calling her a down to earth, beautiful soul
Her high school principal, Catherine McHugh, paid tribute to Lauren as ‘a beautiful girl, a shining light in our school community’.
‘She gave generously of her time and talents. She was a leader among her peers and a quiet strong and loyal presence. A treasured friend and capable young lady with a bright future,’ she said.
Lauren was a member of the Pope John Paul Faith Team and the Rosary Prayer Group, the Irish News reported.
Ms McHugh added: ‘She was a role model for positivity, good relationships and kindness. We have lost someone very dear to us and we will miss her greatly.
‘Our thoughts are with her parents, her family and her friends in the coming days as they try to come to terms with their immeasurable loss.’
Police said on Monday morning that the melee happened before the doors to the venue were opened
Flowers outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, in Northern Ireland where three young people died in a disco stampede
On Monday morning forensic investigators examined the scene as reports started to surface of the terrifying pile-up of teenagers knocked to the ground on top of one another outside the gates of the venue on Sunday
In a moving Facebook post her cheerleading coach at the Euphoria Allstars squad said: ‘Euphoria are absolutely devastated to say we lost one of our senior athletes Lauren Bullock in the tragedy in Cookstown on Sunday night.
‘My heart is broke writing this. You were the most down to earth, beautiful soul and our Coral team will never be the same without you. You were an incredible cheerleader and where the back bone of our team.
‘I honestly can’t put into words how much you will be missed. Thank you Lauren for giving me the pleasure of coaching you all this time.’
Witnesses told of scenes of panic and horror, with as many as 100 teens pushed off their feet and trapped in a press of bodies, as shocked onlookers attempted to resuscitate youngsters pulled out of the crush by emergency services.
A 16-year-old girl is in a stable condition in hospital, while a further two teenagers were treated for injuries they suffered during the incident, which happened at about 9.30pm on Sunday before the venue had opened its gates.
On Monday morning, police tape cordons off the driveway in towards the Greenvale Hotel, where as many as 100 teens were caught in a terrifying crush last night in which three died
Michael McElhattaon (left), owner of The Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland, where three young people died is understood to have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter today
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton (left) of the PSNI, Nigel Ruddell (centre) of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, and Superintendent Mike Baird, District Commander for PSNI Mid-Ulster, at the scene on Monday morning
A shoe, seemingly lost in Sunday night’s crush of bodies, is photographed in the car park outside the Glenvale on Monday morning
A first person account by one girl, who named her friend Morgan as another victim of last night’s night’s tragedy, describes the terror experienced by those trapped under a press of bodies.
On Facebook, Eimear Tallon’s harrowing account begins: ‘It started with pushing and shoving but everyone was still laughing and having a good time. Then the literal crushing started.’
She goes on: ‘Two of my friends fell to the ground. I tried to pull them up but at that point there was no room for them to even come back up.’
She said at the back of the crown some people were still laughing, oblivious to the danger at the front.
‘At this point,’ she writes, ‘I thought my friends were going to die.
‘I was standing up and I couldn’t breathe so I couldn’t imagine how they felt. I was hysterically screaming for people to move but it was only the people around me who knew the seriousness.
‘With more and more pushing, I also fell. But the thing about me was that I wasn’t on the ground, I was on top of someone, and this person was on top of someone else.
‘As I looked down I could see multiple bodies underneath me and as I looked up I could see multiple bodies on top of me.
‘It was the most traumatic, frightening and stressful moment of my life.’