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Authorities plead for talks with club owners

Band subpoenaed in nightclub fire probe

Nightclub co-owner Jeff Derderian cried as he read a statement to the media last Saturday, but authorities say he has not responded to their questions.
Nightclub co-owner Jeff Derderian cried as he read a statement to the media last Saturday, but authorities say he has not responded to their questions.

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Authorities made a public plea to the owners of the Rhode Island nightclub that caught fire, killing 97 people, and subpoenaed the band Great White. CNN's Brian Cabell reports (February 26)
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Friends and families of the 97 victims seek comfort at memorial services. CNN's Bob Franken reports (February 25)
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Family members of the lost visit the charred shell of the club (February 24)
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Jeffrey Derderian denies his club OK'd the use of pyrotechnics (February 23)
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News footage captures the start of the deadly fire (February 21)
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WEST WARWICK, Rhode Island (CNN) -- Officials announced Tuesday that only four of the 97 victims of last week's nightclub fire remain unidentified as authorities made a public plea to talk with the club owners.

"I implore them if they would to contact the local [law enforcement] agencies and not the Boston press association," said Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch.

Lynch has criticized owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian for not responding to questions from law enforcement, while giving interviews to news outlets. (More on owners)

Jeffrey Derderian said Monday he is willing to provide information to investigators but declined to say when. He said he and his brother were "devastated" by the fire and lost friends in the disaster.

"We want answers, too, and at the appropriate time we will be willing to make a full statement," he said. "Our No. 1 concern right now is with the families that have been affected."

Meanwhile, some members of the band Great White, whose pyrotechnic display sparked the deadly blaze, arrived back in Rhode Island Tuesday night after receiving subpoenas to appear before a grand jury investigating the fatal fire.

Among those killed in the fire was Great White guitarist Ty Longley, 31, whose body was identified Monday. Ed McPherson, the band's lawyer, said Tuesday the subpoena calls for the others to appear for questioning before a Rhode Island grand jury.

Club owners said Great White did not have permission to use pyrotechnics in its stage show last Thursday, but McPherson said the owners approved their use.

McPherson said the band's tour manager, Dan Beakley, would routinely discuss the use of pyrotechnics with club managers about a week before Great White played a particular venue.

"He had a lengthy conversation with Mike Derderian, who is one of the owners of the venue, approximately a week before this show -- told him exactly what the band wanted to do and got very specific permission from Mr. Derderian," McPherson said.

But the club's stage manager/sound technician Paul Vanner told reporters he mentioned his safety concerns about pyrotechnics months ago to one of the club owners.

"I just said, I am having serious issues with these pyro guys, and I can't guarantee safety," Vanner said, as he began re-enacting the conversation he says he had with Mike Derderian. "You want guaranteed safety, Mike? None. There is no gray area here ... just black and white. And that's the guarantee that I can give you.

"Certainly, he seemed to take it to heart."

Vanner said that after that conversation, The Station didn't book any more bands that used pyrotechnics. He also seems positive the two brothers had no idea the heavy metal rock group was planning to use the indoor fireworks during their performance there.

"I'm under the impression [Great White] didn't tell anybody anything," said Vanner.

Lynch said media reports make it seem like a "he said, she said -- the band vs. the Derderians." But he said he had no short list and is looking at "anybody and everybody who may have committed a crime that caused people to perish."

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri has ordered a moratorium on the use of pyrotechnic displays in clubs accommodating 300 or fewer patrons, and said 200 deputy fire marshals would fan out to inspect those sites for possible code violations starting Monday.

The governor also said Tuesday that two specially trained dogs from Connecticut would search the fire site Tuesday as part of an effort to "go the extra mile" in determining all bodies are recovered.

He said there was a possible discrepancy with one missing person report that authorities are trying to clarify.

Carcieri announced a family resource center would open Wednesday for victims' families to receive a variety of help in one place. He also said the families had requested assistance in setting up a peer support group to help each other through the coming months.

He is making the rounds of local hospitals and meeting with the families of people injured in the fire. One victim had lost her fiance, her brother and close friends in the fire.

The governor traveled to a Boston burn unit Tuesday where the most severely burned survivors had been transferred. Eighty people remained hospitalized, 24 of them in critical condition, he said.

Relatives and community members came together Monday for two memorial services to remember those killed in the disaster.

Family members also visited the charred remains of the nightclub, leaving flowers, pictures and notes.


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