Charges dropped against E2 owner

CHICAGO Last year, criminal charges were dropped against Calvin Hollins Jr. and the promoter, Marco Fluores. On Wednesday, the last of the four charged was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

On February 17, 2003, 21 people were killed at the South Loop club after a fight broke out on the dance floor and fumes from a pepper spray or mace created panic. A stampede of people swarmed toward a narrow stairway and caused some to become trapped.

The owners of E2 say they were relieved the criminal prosecution is over.

"I'm very relieved. Only in America could this kind of result, I think, come after such significant media coverage that would suggest that I was guilty. But my heart really does remain broken for the families," said Dwain Kyles, E2 co-owner.

"I'm glad this journey is over with. I was elated with the judge's final decision. They basically knew what we already knew in the very beginning - that this was a case of a tragic, tragic accident," said Calvin Hollins, Jr., E2 co-owner.

"There was no criminal culpability involved in this case whatsoever. I have been a lawyer for over 30 years. This is one of the most egregious cases of injustice that I have ever witnessed," said Tommy Brewer, attorney.

There are civil cases that are still pending. The families of the victims have filed suit, alleging negligence and wrongful death. The city of Chicago has also filed a civil suit against the owners, alleging that the club should not have been open.

Archie Myers keeps a giant portrait of his son, Antonio, out of sight most of the time. He says it's too painful a reminder for his wife. Antonio Myers died after being pulled out of E2.

"You never get over the hurt," Archie Myers said.

Archie Myers sat through the trials of the three men last year. He said he had blamed the owners, until the trial. Now, he says the criminal charges shouldn't have been brought against the men.

"It was a tragic accident… But we want to know who's responsible? Why wasn't that building shut down? If the building was shut down, my son would be alive today," Archie Myers said.

While Archie Myers holds no animosity for the E2 owners, there were 20 other families affected by the tragedy. Some relatives still hold the owners responsible. There are civil cases pending against the owners brought by the victims' families. And the city is asking for jail time for operating the club on the second floor. The city alleges a judge ordered no occupancy on the second floor.

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