Author Topic: Happyland Club Fire  (Read 678 times)

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Offline Ptarmigan

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Happyland Club Fire
« on: February 02, 2008, 03:36:10 PM »
Cuban immigrant Julio Gonzalez, who was picked up in the Mariel boatlift in 1980, was mad that he lost his job packing lamps and girlfriend, Lydia Feliciano, of 7 years. He wanted to talk to his girlfriend on March 25, 1990, a Sunday. Feliciano worked at the Happyland Club in The Bronx borough of New York. The Happyland Club was ordered to be closed in late 1988 for having no fire exit doors, alarms, and sprinklers. This would prove to be deadly.

Since Feliciano rebuffed him and got kicked out by a bouncer, Gonzalez, was upset over this. With revenge in mind, Gonzalez returns with one dollar worth of gasoline and splashes it all over the stairs of the club. Gonzalez planned to kill his girlfriend. He lights the gasoline, causing a fire. Many people could of survived, but the fire exit doors were blocked to make sure that patrons paid to get in. Panic ensues inside the burning club. Some escaped by breaking through the windows. Sadly, only a few escaped the burning club, including Feliciano, his intended target. 87 people died in the fire.

Gonzalez fled to his apartment and was caught a few hours later. He confessed to the crime. He was later found guilty and convicted for arson and capital murder in the Happyland Club Fire. Since New York did not have a death penalty at the time, 174 twenty-five year sentences, which were to be served concurrently and is the longest in New York's history. He could be eligible for parole in 2015. More than likely, he will die in prison.

At the time, the Happyland Club Fire became the worst mass murder in New York and America. Prior to that was the Bath School Massacre in 1927, it claimed 45 lives after Andrew Kehoe blew up the school with dynamite. The Happyland Fire's status as America's worst mass murder would be short lived until 1995 when the Oklahoma City Bombing that claimed 169 lives and September 11th attack, which claimed 2,800 lives at the World Trade Center. It was also the worst fire in New York since the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which claimed 148 lives, which happened on March 25th.   

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