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Midwest FurFest hotel evacuated after 'intentional' chlorine release; 19 hospitalized

Edited as of Thu 14 Jan 2016 - 12:15
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Midwest FurFest's hotel was evacuated for several hours and nineteen people were hospitalized after what appears to be an intentional release of chlorine gas.

A broken plain glass jar containing a white powder was found in the ninth floor stairwell after reports from room 963 of a strong chlorine smell that forced the occupants onto the balcony.

A standard "box alarm" at 1:03 AM was quickly elevated to a hazardous materials and third-alarm emergency response. The adjoining convention center was used to house attendees until the area was made safe, with the all-clear sounded at 4:21 AM.

Additional sources: Chicago Tribune - Chicago Sun Times - ABC 7 (video)

A page set up to report hospitalized furs reported several had been discharged, including Hayzel Panda (who said those exposed had been "showered down"). @CoolCalmCam reported "coughing up blood" and said "I can't breathe or taste anything but chlorine or agony"; @mixnmatch7 said their "lungs are burning"; jincow "wasn't able to breathe".

Evacuated fans in good spirits [further coverage by Axio Wolf]

Rosemont Police have suggested that the incident was no accident:

According to investigators, the manner by which the substance was released suggests an intentional act. [...] This incident is being treated as a criminal matter and is under investigation.

Midwest FurFest is no stranger to fire alarms, with last year's convention being disturbed in the early hours of Monday morning. As in prior years, fursuiters were pressed into use as personal space heaters for fans turfed out from the Saturday night dance into the freezing winter air; the convention center (used by the Skokie Valley Kennel Club dog show) was opened later.

Staff were praised for their "very professional" response. The convention is continuing as scheduled, including Hyatt Regency checkout times.

The event resulted in the #mwff2014 hashtag trending on Twitter, and a 2500-comment post on Reddit.


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On a related note, I imagine that the police and HazMat team on scene checked rooms for stragglers and evidence?

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From what I've heard via Twitter, MWFF's release, and posters on Reddit (and elsewhere), MWFF's staff went through to get everyone out.

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First terrorist attack on furry con?
If so I am surprised it took so long, either way it's possibly a hate crime not that it would be considered as such..

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It's interesting how the media deal with furries when there is a bigger story involved. They mention them in passing but there's no exaggeration or anything. Wonder if it's just that the chlorine overshadows them or if the reporters for such events are more professional and less sensational or perhaps they just didn't have time in the rush to get the story out?

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Probably because this is hard news and not a "hey, look at these weird people" lifestyle piece.

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The old adage for news stories is, "If it bleeds, it leads."

19 people were injured here, both con and non-con folk. They concentrated on what caused that, instead of doing a "Look at all these freaks!" piece, because it was more relevant.

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Oh don't worry Rakuen, where written news may slack on the sensationalism of the furry aspect, the live cable news shows will pick up the slack.

Guess it just begs the question: How many furries does one have to kill before professional newspersons can behave professionally across the board?

I hope like the licks to the center of the tootsie roll pop question that this question remains unanswered. Honestly I'd rather have 20 segments like that then a dead fur.

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Guess it just took them some time to rally and return to their usual standards -.- I suppose we can at least laugh at their inability to do their job properly.

And, luckily, none were killed.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Six gorrillion!

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In my opinion the reason that the vast majority of new reports on this handled things professionally is this:

What makes a better more compelling news story?

A. Innocent victims targeted by an attack which could have been fatal and looks a little like possible terrorism at first blush (though to my knowledge no one has taken credit for the act so it's not terrorism)


B. Weird, deviant, non-conformist, fetishists are targeted by an attack that could have been fatal.

I think in option A you get some level of outrage, and the fear that it could happen again to some one else, perhaps someone close to the viewer, and option B you might get a chuckle and even a possible 'good riddance' passing thought, and then the story is promptly forgotten.

News likes victims, and painting furries in a bad light makes them not to be victims. Let's say hypothetically there was a news story that said: 'Gang infighting kills 2 and injures 23 fellow gang members as violence erupts on the streets' and one that said 'Gang infighting kills 2 and injures 23 bystanders as violence erupts on the streets.' Which of these would be more compelling? Most people would only be concerned about the first story by the thought that innocents may get caught up in such wide scale violence.

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Who ever did it is looking at possible hate and terrorist charges in addition to attempted murder due to the fact it is easy to kill someone using chlorine in gas form by way of suffocation, this is no small matter, someone(s) is going to prison for many many years from this.

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Not to mention the state of Illinois has the death penalty and with that severe of a crime, they may face execution even if nobody dies

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Interesting to me that there are anonymous commentator(s) calling this a "hate crime" (ha) against furries when there's really no evidence this wasn't perpetrated by one.

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It could still be a hate crime if they were a self-hating fur…

Sadly, I can totally see some kid doing this thinking it'd just smell real bad and cause an evacuation.

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Yeah this sounds just as likely a kid-level prank as anything else. Pool chemicals and cleaners aren't that hard to get.

Perhaps even from a party-goer, before anyone rushes to conclusions. Kids do really, really dumb shit. I'm including early-20 year olds in that. Who knows? I guess we'll find out.

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Whether or not it turns out to be the case, I'd consider comments like those to be jumping the gun at best and trying to stoke strong reactions at worst. We'll be able to delve into motives after they catch whoever did this or at least have more evidence on what happened. For the time being best to worry about those who were hospitalized and hope that convention staff are able to learn from this experience to at the very least have safety guidelines available as worst case scenarios if we see it happen again.

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Yeah, I'm calling it now: a furry did this, probably motivated by an obscure grudge involving a long-defunct website from years ago.

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Better yet, put him into a fursuit and glue it permanently shut.

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The 'Five Nights at Freddys' solution! :-)

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I don't remember FNAF ending with endless yiffing.

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Considering that the substance was used as a WMD, FBI should be looking into this as an act of "homegrown" terrorism. It put enough people in the hospital for it to be treated as such, plus the Hyatt is close enough to O'Hare International Airport for it

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I saw this coming seven years ago.

Please don't let this happen at Further Confusion! Please, please, please.

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A FurAffinity Forums thread about this event has a post with what is claimed to be a picture of the stairwell the powder chlorine was deposited at. I personally would really like some sauce for the picture but it's something worth noting as more and more details eventually surface.

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It came from a Redditor off the main thread that GreenReaper linked above.

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Wow, I never thought furries would face any real live persecution, most of the time it's furs being thin skinned or heavily exaggerating. If this was malevolent, than this is definitely a "hate crime" (ugh I hate that word) against furries if I've ever seen one.

The fact that this was done without warning (as opposed to the Anthrocon bomb threat) highlights the seriousness of what happened here; While in my opinion, threatening to hurt someone makes you just as guilty as actually hurting someone, we all know public threats like bombing a convention are just hollow words from an attention whore. But this is more dire, the fact that the (possible) attacker here never openly threatened anyone shows he did not want to get caught until he committed the act, if what I read in the article and this thread is true, than this person tried to kill several attendees, and was 110% serious about it; not joking, not trolling, not attention whoring.

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considering that everything you need for this gas bomb can be bought at wallmart with out needing to be over 18 it will be very hard to track a person down. Unless he left finger prints or other evidence at the site.

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The Associated Press article, the most widely-circulated one, interviewed my roomate from Hamilton and managed to mangle almost every thing he said, including adding stuff he didn't say. Increadibly sloppy journalist. :( He was pretty peeved about it, because he's worked for years as a journalist and has pretty high standards.

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Ah good, you found the Reddit thread I got together. NPR also picked it up but I had to toss a correction at them.

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I found that thread as well, but it did not have 2500 (now 4600) comments, just (at that time) the links that I had in the article, so I did not include it. I also didn't include the AP coverage, but that was because it wasn't very good!

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Yeah, that's in Reddit's /r/news while I kept to /r/furry, where it got stickied.

The AP coverage got better, and NPR's coverage I had to correct them on, to which they actually did some more homework and made a better story. I think they go back and revise the stories as time goes on and they get more information. The "first to press" mentality, alas.

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Quite a bit of craziness, I'm actually a bit annoyed by quite a few of the comments you see on this story reported elsewhere. It's like you have to remind people that yes there are people in those animal costumes and no it's not a harmless prank. And again it just seems to be an excuse to bring up prior shows and reporting on furry, CSI continues to remain the most widely known reference.

I hope they find out who did this, hopefully not a furry and hopefully not a drawn out media blitz. Prosecute the person or persons and move on, hopefully also learn enough to minimize it happening again though always scary to think once something happens it's more likely to happen again... and let's hope furry cons don't suddenly turn into aggravating TSA type security.

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Was playing Cards Against Humanity on the bottom floor when this whole thing went down. Thought it was a simple box pull stunt spreading from the Fur-Fright style prank stupidity at first. But then things just went further and further downhill.

I noticed that only the main area of the hotel had their alarm going and the executive wing seemed to be quiet. Since my room was there I had tried to scour the perimeter for an entrance. By the time I had found one though, that one had been closed off as well and the alarm started in that area as well.

We were pushed from the packing lot to the parking garage across the street next to the convention center. Then they had corralled everyone into the convention center. They kept us to one side and away from the crated canines in there for the dog show. People were starting to become a bit weary after the third time being told to move back further into the center. It got to the point where most were pushed into a quadrant in the rear.

To make matters a little worse, a speculation that the other hotels of the area were turning people away did cause some to miss out on a place to hang their head. The Hilton on the opposite corner had opened up a main room on the bottom floor with water and a place for furries to hold out. Of course another area hotel was asking for money at the door instead of providing help, so one bad apple made the rumor spread that the whole bunch was spoiled.

It's a sad day that I would have rather it have been a stupid prankster pulling an alarm. It's a sadder day when you can add "Furry Convention" to this list; this is supposed to be the MidWest, not the MidEast.

The fact that the disruption to the convention was minimal and that things went smooth Sunday shows a good tact of both the staff and the hotel keeping it together in the face of this.

In the end though a part of me is still skeptical on the intentionality of this act. On one hand it happened on a stairwell so someone could have tripped and dropped it accidentally. However, the other parts of me look into it more and say that it's statistically unlikely. For 1 it happened on the 9th floor stairwell. That means someone had to be using the stairs on the highest floor of a building in a non-emergency situation which is extremely unlikely.

And two other things: Because the highest floor stairwell is so infrequently used it's a good spot for 'privacy', and perhaps the most damning thing. Chlorine gas is heavier than air. If someone wanted to intentionally spread gas throughout entire building, you'd want to do it on the highest floor.

If there were to be an accidental dropping of the gas on a stairwell the odds are it would have happened in a lower stairwell. Not the highest stairwell in the entire building (which has multiple stairwells).

As far as an 'act of terror', if that's what it was, it was not effective at all. We have no-one stating the purpose of the attack (terrorist tend to want you to know WHY they are doing what they are doing to try and scare you into their way of living/thinking). Odds are more of an individual acting on their own than on behalf of an organization. Could be a relationship issue, an issue with the convention staff, at this point motive is hardest to pin down in such a large con.

We'll see what the investigation fleshes out.

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Ah and look at that, The Onion has finally weighed in on the convention story too. I haven't had time to see how much coverage this has gotten on television but could be that this story gives the kind of coverage we haven't seen since CSI... I would much prefer it did not.

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news report on incident disrupted by [something weird enough to send one lady running away on air]

"Willie Geist ultimately had to take over as Brzezinski and Scarborough broke out into laughter -- realizing what exactly the convention had been for -- and the segment ended with Brzezinski running hastily for the door."

I wonder what he told her.
I'm supposing it's some sort of "naughty" thing. [insert "all fandoms have naughty bits" crap here]

But I really want to know, what does the layperson, as represented in this case by the reporter, think "furry" IS?

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I'm more an optimist who likes to think that she ran off set not because she was freaked out, but because she knew that it was not proper to be laughing about this on camera when talking about such dire events. She was taken off guard completely. Like a person having giggle fits in a church they excused themselves to try and not disrupt the congregation.

Of course that would mean that these hosts basically react to news rather then research it prior. That's a pretty big reveal. It basically says the Morning Joe show is the equivalent of asking a stranger what they think of this current event you just told them about.

The guy on the right deserves a fat Christmas bonus bonus for continuing to talk about the event while his two colleagues were otherwise incapacitated.

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If you can't manage to somehow keep a straight face while discussing 19 people being hospitalized -- no matter what those people were doing when the incident occurred -- then you really shouldn't be in television news. (And should work on maturity and empathy overall, independent of career choices.)

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Indeed, or at least do a little investigating in what you're going to be talking about so you aren't caught off guard at the very least.

I mean, the only ones who really had any right to be surprised about furries in this incident were the rescue workers responding to the call. If it didn't actually happen, one would think it was a plotline from the show Rescue Me. Even for someone who was there it seems surreal.

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What about 1900 x 1.5? Because I couldn't stop laughing when reporting on 9/11 :^]

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If any of the dogs from the dog show had been poisoned, the whole giggle factor would have changed to outrage, mark my words.

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I heard the fandom blew the accident out of proportions. Is that correct?

Well, I'll be...

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Nope. The evacuation went calmly and smoothly because MFF has had the fire alarm go off almost every year, and everyone's used to evacuating the hotel. Rumors about what had caused the emergency were confirmed soon enough. The fandom still doesn't know if it was the target, or if it just happened to be there when the chlorine was released. There's been speculation about what other possible uses the chlorine could have been used for. 19 people were hospitalized and subsequently released, and folks have been pretty private about it. The convention continued as best it could on Sunday; everyone had to sleep in, but otherwise it went on as normal.

The incident went to the top of Twitter for a while, and the media were more than happy to report the story, although they mostly repeated some initial news articles without doing further research. MFF issued a short press release. Some morning mouths on MSNBC broke out laughing. As of today (Dec. 11) the media seems to have largely lost interest. The biggest discussion was on a Reddit news thread. The two most intelligent online articles that I've seen come out of this were on The Mary Sue and on Vox.

If you look around you can probably find someone who's misinterpreted the news or gotten overly ranty, but most of the fandom seems to be dealing with it pretty well. I think that until the authorities come forward with new developments, it's best to put this behind us.

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We should wait until authorities get leads, however, since they haven't gotten a good solid suspect in about 1 week it's safe to assume that this may go unresolved.

If that is the case it's important to remain vigilent, as the emboldened purp may target a different con.

To adapt to this I would recommend that furries who are on the highest floor of the hotel make a habit of going down one flight of stairs before taking the elevator the rest of the way down. This would severely hinder the capacity for similar attacks in the future.

In fact, to protect the stairwells on all floors I think this would be a good thing for all furs at cons to do. Go down at least one flight before using the elevator.

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Never assume that lack of visible motion in an investigation of this nature means there's no suspects.

I saw FBI, DHS, and a wide variety of other people present within an hour of the incident. They knew they were dealing with a very serious criminal matter that might have repercussions outside of furry and could have resulted in mass deaths as opposed to mass casualties. I'd wager this went federal pretty quick, and tools that are used in patriot have been invoked, which means a lot of the movements being done now can be extremely secretive. The databases are all there, they just need permission to use them, and I suspect this case gave some nice wide data sweeping permission.

I suspect this will be broken open one day, when we wake up, and see someone has been arrested three days previous. You're not going to hear about an arrest immediately unless they are absolutely certain it's a lone wolf/prank situation and not a cell or group.

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Now you're just sounding paranoid, plus I'm not sure it would be effective. Even assuming there is a repeat incident, which is hard to say, and assuming the person uses the same method of attack, dubious, how would people using the stairs prevent it? This happened at night. I get that cons are probably going on continuously but I'll also wager that nights are still quieter than the day and you're not going to have people constantly on the stairs. All it would take is a lookout to make sure it's safe. Also, you're at a hotel. If someone wanted to carry dangerous chemicals they could put them in a suitcase and walk right past a thousand people. They don't carry a jar saying "terrorist plot" and you can't expect a hotel to stop every person moving around with a suitcase.

Keeping an eye out is good advice but paranoia is not. The last thing we need is a furry TSA in the name of stopping terrorism.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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I don't know how you went from "Going down one flight of stairs" to "Search every furry's bag." but I'll say it's ironic you'd call me paranoid in that case.

It may not stop every case, indeed there may be times of the day where the stairs are abandoned because people are sleeping. However, the point is to increase the odds of acts such as this being witnessed, not stopped entirely. That's not our job, that's the job of security and officers. However having information never hurt anyone.

I think it's more important that whoever did this understands that, just because they did it once doesn't mean they can get away with it again. In fact it just gets harder from here. So for them I'd quit while I'm 'ahead'.

I mean, people fear another 9/11, but I'd argue that using commercial planes in the way terrorists did on that day is now impossible. My evidence is 9/11 itself. The first three planes the passengers were lied to and told they were simply being held for ransom. After being trained by so many American hijack movies they believed their captors. There was a fourth plan however that the passengers were told what the intent of the jackers were, and they acted. I surmise what happened to on that flight would happen to all commercial planes hijacked by terrorists going forward. The passengers would revolt and refuse to be used as pawns in their plans.

Equally, now that people are informed on how an individual can gas a hotel, I think it's important people use that knowledge in order to take preventative actions that, more importantly, don't disrupt their day to day in an absurd fashion. We're still talking about a statistically unlikely event.

Stairwells are typically found not to far from elevators, it would be really easy to simply just go down a flight before taking the elevator. Not for suiters, obviously, but let's 'exercise' a little, and have a community watch as well. I'm sure the con-goers and hotel would appreciate it.

Asking you to go down a flight of stairs isn't asking us to submit to baggage checks and screenings. If anything I'm trying to prevent that, because if a second event like this does happen, and once again no one is caught, then that is what may cause this "TSA" type environment you don't want.

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Actually, at many hotels now, the stairwells are found far from the elevators. At MWFF for example, the stairwells were in the four corners of a square, so to speak, the elevators in the center point of the square.

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This is true, however, each floor has only two catwalks (which alternate directions per floor) meaning that for 50% of rooms on each floor you cannot reach the elevator without first passing by that corner stairwell.

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I was saying you can't see everything. They probably weren't carrying chemicals out in the open. Unless you're watching constantly it only takes a minute to take a bottle out of your bag and empty it. The stairs could've been an accident. It would've made more sense to take the chlorine to the conditioning or something that would spread it quickly, not the stairs which get minimal traffic and which might have doors that would block the spread of the gas.

Making people check for possible gas attacks (or any attack really) is unnecessary as the chances of it happening are unlikely. Leave that to hotel security, which will be paying more attention now that something made them sit up. That's not to say people shouldn't be aware of what's going on around them but there's no need to act like they're under threat.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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The point is, increased traffic on the stairwells=less likely someone would feel "safe" doing this to begin with.

It's already been stated why someone would choose to do this in the stairwells so no, I seriously doubt it was an accident that it happened there. And obviously doorways weren't an issue since so many were hospitalized as a result.

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you know you're a crap fandom when the best you can hope for on fair coverage is The Mary Sue!

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I wonder how many people were actually injured and/or symptomatic from the chemical itself. From what I've seen or read about in the past, gas leaks and similar phenomenon often cause many to have psychosomatic symptoms. And the hospitals like to play it safe and tend to be inclusive (rightly so).

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I have not seen any reports that said whether the 19 people hospitalized were convention members or non-fan hotel guests.

Fred Patten

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The report linked to the original post names 6 fans who where hospitalized. I have hear a report of one person who went back to their room at the Hilton before starting to cough up blood. He went to the hospital from there so may or may not have been counted among the 19.

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Also remember that the press cannot release information about exact medical conditions due to privacy laws. Best you're going to get unless people admit it themselves is a number and possibly a generalization of their condition

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Some more news?

"There are suspects being investigated. They were "first timers" who registered with the convention and the hotel using their real names, and vanished immediately after the chlorine powder was discovered"

Source - aceofgeeks dot blogspot dot fr/2014/12/the-attack-on-furfest-convention.html

Doesn't make sense to me. Why would an attacker register using their real names? Why would they even register at all? Just walk right in and set the bomb off. The only way it makes sense is if a prank went horribly wrong. What kind of prank uses chlorine gas? Everyone knows how to make a stink bomb, it sure as hell doesn't involve chlorine! Some idiot really desperate to make pool's closed jokes on 4chan?

If this information is correct, there is another possibility. The police may be investigating the wrong people. Wouldn't surprise me, the state need to make it look as though they are doing something. Probably the majority of terror-related incarcerations are of innocent people, done to give the impression of security like the TSA. First-time con-goer who vanishes after nearly losing their life? They might be scared out of their minds.

It would be interesting indeed to see the security camera footage from the stairwell and nearby. They must have some way of matching the footage up against the registration list, photos from government ID database?

There is something we as a community can do to help with this. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who rolled a camera any time during the hours 11pm through 1:30am, upload all your raw unedited footage. Tag it with mwff2014raw. 4000+ con-goers with smartphones has statistically got to provide a good deal of coverage. We won't know what happened IN the stairwell, but we can easily find someone running out the stairwell and the hotel.

If this increases the odds of catching the real perpetrator by just 1%, it will be worth hours of our time. If it prevents a vulnerable first-time con-goer being wrongly incarcerated and forced to admit guilt under a plea bargain, it will be worth everything. I will personally do anything to prevent this happening.

It's slightly scary there is no way of preventing this happening again. One thing we can do, is better preparedness. Determine type of gas, is it explosive? If not, don't evacuate, get the furs out onto the balconies. I wonder how many furs got injured from evacuating down the contaminated stairwell? It hurts to even think about it.

Sadly the next time something happens, it probably won't be gas. It's lucky I didn't throw up from the worry caused by this attack, I'll be needing all that vomit for the day when someone inevitably lets loose with a gun or a bomb.

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Sonious already covered problems with the not-evacuating idea but I'm not sure the uploading all your video is a good idea either. Unless it's actually taken in public areas, uploading it would be concerning from a privacy point of view of whoever is in such footage. Of course it's probably only the public areas one would be interested in, so uploading all the raw footage would just make unnecessary work.

Second, people are not trained to investigate these things. After the Boston Marathon bombing people also went through photo and video. All the theories on social media were wrong. Not only were they wrong but they interfere in police investigations by giving them more to deal with, creating a bunch of false leads and causing even more damage for those people who are falsely accused. If you really think those photos or videos can help then they should be sent to the FBI or whoever is investigating, not to an untrained general public with no restraint.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Sorry, I should have been clearer about exactly what footage I meant. Strictly limited to public areas, which is where most of the cameras would be rolling anyway. There is actually very little on Youtube even after two weeks, plenty of video that started after the alarms sounded, but practically none catching the start. I'm sure cameras were rolling at that time, just whoever has those cameras didn't consider the footage interesting enough to upload.

We will have to agree to disagree about the efficiency of the police, this is bordering into politics. No matter whether the crowd is right or wrong, we would only forward any theories or evidence to law enforcement types if we agree on a single theory as a majority. I don't think it's much to ask from our servants to look at just one more theory.

There is one place we are definitely more efficient than the police, that is recognizing fursuits, and fursuit-related activities. If some of the rumors were accurate about a fursuiter planting the bomb, our community would be able to determine the full history of that fursuit very quickly. We could also potentially clear fursuiters, as we know very well the kinds of things fursuiters do and the difficulties they may have with navigating a stairwell.

I'm not really entirely sure if I understand you, because the FBI could download those videos if they were posted in public. If you're suggesting they should never be uploaded in public and instead sent direct to the FBI, does that mean we should censor any further video clips that might get posted to Youtube in case they create false leads? That doesn't make sense to me.

Now there are a few pieces of private footage I would like to see, at room parties, particularly on the ninth floor. I'm not murry, I actually think there might be some evidence lurking there. It was near the device, the device was set off at about the same time the party disbanded, and there was allegedly a suitcase full of alcohol in that room. Alcohol means drunk and stupid con-goers, and it also means a catalyst for mixing with sodium or calcium hypochlorite. In other words half of a chlorine bomb, including the bottle. I would like to know what the percentage of alcohol per volume was, and I hope in the rush the investigators combed that room and checked those bottles.

I'd better say that I'm not pointing fingers by that last paragraph, it's likely the perpetrator never went to that room party, and may be an outsider. It is also possible they were at the party but had no relationship with the owner of the room or the alcohol bottles. These are the clues the community may be able to help join, as they have memories of the day which the investigators do not.

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The police are still better suited (if you'll excuse the pun) for such an investigation than random people on the internet. The motivation for people to search is good but I don't believe they will show restraint, partly because we've seen this happen before, my specific example being the Boston Marathon Bombing. These describe multiple people who were incorrectly identified as suspects, not by the police but by people just trying to help.

With serious crimes like this it's not just a bit of internet drama, it translates into real life. The Facebook page for a missing person had to be taken down due to abusive and hateful comments. An innocent person. Another, also innocent, person was afraid to leave his home for fear of abuse. That should not be happening and it is due to irresponsible people with good intentions suggesting who is responsible for attacks.

I'm not saying videos should be taken down because they might create false leads, I'm saying it's irresponsible to post videos publicly for the purpose of identifying a suspect and encouraging the general public to do so. One article on the Boston bombing, not linked, mentioned how police watched a few seconds or minutes of one video 400 times so they could track the movement of every single person in the clip. We're not more efficient at recognising fursuits, fursuits are distinctive. It's easier to recognise a suit than a person.

In response to your other comment, that's even worse advice as it puts people's safety in danger. An evacuation is the best course of action. You should not be telling people to just wait on a balcony. People are not, and never will be, trained to identify chemicals by smell. What they should do is get a safe place when there is danger. A balcony may end up being safe in some situations but if someone releases gas, people don't evacuate when they have the chance and then there is a fire, they are in an even worse situation. The advice you are giving in these posts is misguided and dangerous.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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I appreciate your effort in giving citations, Rakuen, but I feel there is a world of difference between the Boston Marathon and the attack on our fandom.

For a start, we are much smaller than the immense masses of people talking on social media about the bombings. It is probably naive of me to suggest we are more rational and less likely to jump to conclusions, but I do think the openness of most furs would prevent a witch hunt. That said, given what the fandom did to Tumbles, perhaps you're right.

One of the most frustrating parts about this case might actually turn out to be an advantage. Media have completely forgotten about this potential terrorist attack. Either we are too weird for the public (confuses the story) or, all the misreporting about a gas leak combined with no further evidence, has caused everyone to lose interest.

There's really no way this could get as ugly as the Boston Marathon, when no media outlet will even acknowledge that 4000 people could have been killed that day by someone with a chemical weapon. If it were still making headline news around the world, then I agree with you.

Either way, my original post still stands here. If people want to follow this suggestion, they are welcome to do so. Until then, I will not be pursuing this any further. We don't need any more stress.

I'm still scared the same evacuation process will be followed if there is another gas attack.

At least 19 people wound up in hospital. Some of these people were forced to breathe chlorine gas because they were told to evacuate. Had they stayed in their rooms (with ventilation) they would have avoided injury.

Of those that made it outside without being poisoned, most were improperly dressed and could have easily suffered frostbite or hypothermia. There were also a handful of people panicking, I hear one of them was treated for a panic attack. It's lucky that con-goers are no strangers to fire alarms, or this could have easily turned into a stampede with terrible crush injuries.

Evacuation is not always a safe default. Look at aircraft, there have been a number of incidents where an aircraft has suffered an overheated engine or similar dangerous fire risk, and still the crew decided to keep the passengers on the plane (while the firefighters tackled the incident). If the fuel tank blows up, they will all die, but the risk of it happening is judged to be smaller than the danger the passengers will be placed in if they evacuate.

I covered my reasoning in my other post, but I will try and explain it another way here. The only smell a person needs to be able to determine is the smell of natural gas. This is a very distinctive smell that many people are familiar with, there is a deliberately added odor to aid detection with a human nose (tert-Butylthiol is added, thank you Wikipedia)

In any situation, if you smell natural gas, you evacuate. I'm not arguing against that, it would be crazy!

If you smell some other odor, evacuation is not necessarily the best process. Conventions are full of various odors (to put it one way) and nobody evacuates just because they smelled something. As far as I understand, nobody even considered evacuating until someone pulled the alarm, which was after people were reporting a chlorine smell (I haven't got confirmation of this). Understandably, things went sideways very quickly when people started coughing up blood. Honestly, I would have freaked out in that situation.

What would you do if all the stairwells were attacked with a much bigger chlorine bomb, or something even more toxic? Entering any of the stairwells is a death sentence, just opening a door could seriously injure you. I know it's not very likely to happen again, but what if it does? The evacuation process you follow for a fire, doesn't work when faced with a chemical attack. You may not even smell the chemical until it's already injured you.

What's worse, if the attacker pulls the alarm to draw people into the trap? The only safe way to evacuate now is through balconies or breaking windows, but people are streaming into the stairwells. There won't be anyone left alive to evacuate through the balconies.

I don't have any suggestions for the last one, it's been a recurring nightmare for me. The December 7 incident was scarily close to this worst-case, the attacker only needed about 3 more bombs and use a crate instead of a jar, and we would be in a world of agony right now.

I hope you can understand why I'm trying to raise awareness of evacuation processes. I want to find some reassurance that a process can be put in place, to prevent this nightmare becoming reality.

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"Determine type of gas, is it explosive? If not, don't evacuate, get the furs out onto the balconies."

Four reasons that advise really can't be followed:

1) The fire alarm was going off well before people even knew what was going on, or even before there was a gas leak.

2) Even those that were near the gas, a majority couldn't tell what it was. Most thinking it was just a heavy bleach smell. People are generally not educated on chemicals enough to determine what they are just by smelling them (I know I'm not), so guessing if a substance is explosive or not just by a smell is not very likely.

3) Staying behind, even if the substance isn't explosive, is not a good idea. Just because something doesn't go "Boom" doesn't mean it can't kill you if you just stay there. Is there a risk you'll pass over ground zero? Yes. But sometimes running through the fire is better then staying back while it consumes the building around you.

4) Many hotels do not have balconys, so while the last bit of advise may work for the main of the Hyatt it would not work for most others, including the Hyatt's executive wing.

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1) I thought the alarm went off shortly after the chlorine was released? Is there anything to suggest the perpetrator pulled the alarm preemptively?

I'm not criticizing the staff or evacuation process, nobody was expecting a gas attack. This is unheard of, at any con. We know better now, planning for gas attacks is something we can do. Having people panic about a fire could cause hyperventilation, definitely not something you want with chlorine in the air. My respect to the staff members who went around banging on doors, this was incredibly dangerous and I hope they're all ok. We can't let this happen again.

Still, an attacker releasing chlorine in the stairwell is probably going to pull the alarm, to get furs into the stairwell. Being a commercial building, I guess it is nontrivial to cancel the alarm?

2) I think most people are smart enough to associate a bleach smell with chlorine gas, but nobody was expecting to find chlorine at a convention. Expectation bias is a real thing, hotels get cleaned a lot, what's unusual about a bleach smell? When the alarms went off, people were expecting fumes from the fire. Some people were actually saying they could see smoke, before they knew about the chlorine. I've had this happen to me elsewhere, it's no joke.

You're right, it's difficult to determine all explosive gases from the smell, that's if they even have a smell at all. Natural gas, as initially reported, should be easy to tell apart from chlorine because of the distinctive smell added to it. A natural gas leak requires a special process too, I'm not even sure if it's safe to activate the alarms because the danger of an electrical spark. This is a good reason there should be explicit PA announcements. Explicit, meaning clear. Not the other meaning.

We can't protect against every possibility, we need to focus on the most practical attacks. Someone could easily break a natural gas line, or they could launch another poison gas attack. Is it likely that someone will launch an attack using a different explosive gas? I honestly don't know, what do you think? The Hyatt, and most hotels actually are big enough to make this impossible in the open areas. You would need several large gas cylinders, someone will notice you bringing those into the con. Someone could probably blow up their room with a modest size cylinder, they might be able to initiate a building collapse or at least hurt those in neighboring rooms. It would be extremely risky for the attacker, they would need to register for the con and get a room, this would leave enough evidence to find them. I can see someone setting off a stink bomb in their room as a prank, but not blowing their room up. Then again a month ago, I couldn't see anyone gassing furries.

My gut feeling is that any gas attack is likely to be poisonous rather than explosive. It's really much safer to get onto the balcony, or even stick your head out of an open window, than to try and evacuate. How long can someone hold their breath for, especially if they are in a panic? Less than a minute? I don't know of any hotels where you can evacuate your room in under a minute, this means you are going to breathe the gas if you try and evacuate. Of course as soon as firefighters arrive, they can be evacuated with gas masks or ladders, but my gut feeling is screaming loudly that the best thing to do in the event of poison gas is to stay in your room and get fresh air.

I am genuinely amazed that we didn't end up with a pile of dead furs in that stairwell, if you'll excuse me being so direct. Accidents involving chlorine releases have killed a lot of people in enclosed spaces, exactly like this. It's so perverse this attack was done in an evacuation stairwell, I don't think it can be called a failed prank for this reason. We are so so lucky everything worked in our favor and there was only one chlorine device.

What would we have done if the attacker had targeted all stairwells, with a larger device in each? If everyone followed exactly the same evacuation process, likely we could have been looking at hundreds if not thousands of collapsed and dying furs in the stairwells. Think about the reality of that for a moment.

I think it has been long enough now to talk about this stuff, without any sensationalism. I'm still scared that an attack will happen again, but I'm not about to toss my cookies anymore. If there is anything we can do to find the perpetrator, clear any innocent furs, and reduce the damage from another attack, we need to put most our energy into it.

Sonious, I like your suggestion to go down one floor before taking the elevators. Furs should be encouraged to take the stairs anyway to reduce the elevator load, even going up or down one floor less means less elevator congestion. If a con wished to enforce this policy, placing an overlay sticker over the elevator buttons blocking the odd numbered floors would be enough.

tl;dr: I'm thinking aloud. Also, trying to clear my head about this painful incident. I still stand by my suggestion of doing everything possible to prevent evacuating furs directly into poisoned stairwells, and trying to compile all the video from those last few hours.

Murry Christmas to all furs, keep those paws warm!

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Hi, Do any of you guys have any sort of update on this event. I am preparing a short paper on What occurred, why it occurred, what drives the perpetrators, the perpetrators primary intent, secondary effects, were there trained personnel on site to deal with this, how long did it take the first responders to respond. I have the answer to some of my questions but was wondering if you guys had heard of any updates. It really strikes me as strange that chlorine powder was used and stranger still that people suffered such dramatic effects (Bleeding nose, coughing blood etc).

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a developer, editor and Kai Norn from London, United Kingdom, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.