Police release description of pills possibly linked to music festival deaths
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, August 5, 2014 10:45AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 5, 2014 9:41PM EDT
Toronto police have released a description of two pills sold at an electronic dance music festival that may be linked to the death of two people and the hospitalization of 13 others.
Annie Truong-Le, 20, and 22-year-old Willard Amurao, both from the GTA, were pronounced dead after ingesting drugs believed to be purchased at the VELD Music Festival in Downsview Park on Sunday and homicide detectives are now investigating whether or not the drugs could have been poisoned.
So far one person has turned in drugs purchased at the festival and those pills have been sent away for testing.
One of the pills turned into police is described as a small brown capsule while the other is described as a small clear capsule with a white substance inside.
Police, meanwhile, are appealing to anyone else who purchased drugs at the venue to bring them forward so they can be examined.
“Unfortunately some of these people didn’t even know what they were taking,” Det. Sgt. Peter Trimble told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We had some people taking upwards of 10 pills and some people picking up pills from the ground.”
According to Trimble, post-mortem examinations completed on the victims did not reveal any physical cause of death and police are now awaiting the results from a toxicology test.
Trimble says most of the concert goers that fell ill had a “general feeling of unwellness,” were visibly pale and a number of them had seizures after taking the drugs.
Some of them have since been released from hospital, though a number remain.
All of the victims in hospital are expected to survive.
Police have set up a website where videos and photos taken at the festival can be uploaded.
“A criminal act has taken place which is the reason why the homicide squad is investigating this,” Trimble said. “I am not ready to put a label on the classification of the death yet; other than that an unlawful act has occurred and I am going to investigate this like I would any other homicide.”
Mammoliti says EDM events must be stopped
VELD Music Festival is the latest in a series of electronic dance music events where a large number of concert goers were hospitalized.
In May, 29 people were transported to hospital with alcohol and drug-related illnesses after a sold out show by Swedish DJ Avicii at the Rogers Centre. Then in June another 22 people were hospitalized after the Digital Dreams Music Festival at Ontario Place, one of whom suffered life-threatening injuries from a possible overdose.
In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, Ward 7 Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, who has been critical of electronic dance music events in the past, said it may be time to rethink granting permits to promoters and stop allowing EDM events to take place on city property.
Mammoliti also called for the resignation of councillors Gord Perks and Michael Layton for speaking out in favour of holding electronic dance music events at city-owned Exhibition Place.
It should be noted that police have not made any link between the type of music at Veld and the drug-related illnesses.
“With the deaths of two young individuals at this weekend's VELD Festival it's time for someone to take responsibility before more tragedies come from these EDM events,” Mammoliti said in the release. “How many more have to die before we finally accept these EDM events cannot be held on government lands or anywhere else?"
Police say they plan to speak to the organizers of VELD Music Festival and will investigate whether appropriate security measures were taken.
In a statement issued early Tuesday morning, one of the organizers extended “heart-felt condolences” to the family and friends of the man and woman who passed away at the festival.
“We extend our heart-felt condolences to the families and friends of these individuals and will keep them in our prayers,” INK Entertainment CEO Charles Khabouth said. “Public safety and security have always been the number one priorities of the Veld Music Festival and we will continue to make sure they remain that way and with the highest standard of support.”
In addition to an investigation by the homicide unit, the Special Investigations Unit is probing the circumstances surrounding the death of the 22-year-old man because he was restrained by police after becoming violent with paramedics.
The SIU is an arm’s length agency called in to investigate whenever officers are involved in a death or serious injury.
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