ROME — Italian police investigating a deadly disco stampede said Sunday they found a pepper spray can and were questioning dozens of witnesses Sunday following accounts by concertgoers that a teenage boy had sprayed an irritating substance, triggering the mad rush by the crowd to flee.

It wasn’t known if the can found was the one whose spray apparently set off the stampede about 1 a.m. Saturday in a crowd awaiting a rapper’s performance in the Lanterna Azzurra disco in Corinaldo, a small town in east-central Italy, police said.

A police official also declined to confirm Italian media reports that a 16-year-old boy had been identified as the sprayer and would be questioned by juvenile court officials.

Five teens and a woman who had accompanied her 11-year-old daughter to the concert died in the crush of fleeing concertgoers who toppled over a railing atop a cement ramp outside an exit.

Seven of the more than 50 people injured in the stampede remained in critical condition Sunday, doctors said.

On Saturday, prosecutors and Italy’s premier and interior minister told reporters that nearly 1,400 tickets had been sold, while the disco could safely hold only 870 people.


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