Dozens of clubbers fall ill in Breda bar; suspect arrested


A 22-year-old man from Oosterhout was arrested in a Breda home on Saturday after at least 27 people fell ill in a bar on Vismarktstraat during the early hours of that morning, the police said in a statement. The police believe the suspect released pepper spray or something similar in the bar.

At around 2:55 a.m. on Saturday surveillance officers keeping an eye on the nightlife received a report that an unknown substance was released in the bar on Vismakrtstraat. Many visitors experienced nausea, breathlessness and a burning sensation in their throat or airways. 

Emergency services responded en masse. Bar and club owners on Vismarktstraat immediately created a disaster route and cleared the street from the bar to the Hoge Brug. Other club owners closed their doors so that the emergency services were not hindered by people coming out of the clubs. 

A total of 24 visitors to the bar were checked over by paramedics. Eleven of them were treated on the spot. Four were taken to hospital for further examination. Three others sought medical treatment elsewhere. The four taken to hospital were discharged after treatment.

According to the owner of the bar, his customers suddenly started coughing, retching and rubbing their eye. He himself also experienced respiratory problems. He immediately turned down the music and switched on the lights. His staff guided all the guests outside while emergency services responded. 

The fire department took measurements and ventilated the bar. "The police emphasize that there was an effective collaboration between emergency services, employees of the catering industry and the nightlife public. This meant that medical help could quickly be given to the victims", the police said. 

The owner of the bar filed a police report, and the police immediately launched an investigation. Officers spoke to staff and customers and viewed surveillance camera footage. This led the police to the 22-year-old man from Oosterhout. He was arrested, with the permission of the Public Prosecutor, in a home in Breda later on Saturday. He is facing charges of aggravated assault or attempts thereto, and deliberately releasing a dangerous substance. A few dozen pills and a small amount of cocaine were found in the home where the suspect was arrested.