House festival Solid Grooves on the Donauweg in the Westelijk Havengebied is busy for several hours on Whit Monday when a young woman reports to the festival desk. She wants to exchange the black wristband that says ‘crew’ in white letters for a backstage wristband. Crew bands are for festival employees; they can thus move freely across the site. With the coveted backstage band, visitors can get behind the DJs in the VIP areas on the stages.
The employee smells danger and the organization confiscates the crew wristband. The strap turns out to be fake. Some details are wrong, but otherwise it is so well counterfeited that there is no doubt that people have managed to enter the festival with counterfeit bands. It is a mystery how the woman got the fake tape. The first tapes were only distributed to festival staff in the morning.
Around five o’clock in the afternoon, the flow of visitors towards the festival site is approaching its peak. That means a lot of pressure for security, which has to deal with many visitors in a short period of time. The festival for 5000 people has been sold out for several days. On ticket site Ticketswap and social media, the tickets that originally cost around 60 euros are sometimes offered for more than 100 euros. Thousands of people have indicated on the site that they are looking for an admission ticket.
Jimmy Schepers’ group of friends from Diemen also arrives at the festival site around five o’clock. 21-year-old Jimmy is a descendant of a well-known Amsterdam catering family. Jimmy is known as a good guy. Not a fighter, but someone who jumps in when there is a fight and then tries to calm things down. The group of friends from Amsterdam, Arnhem and Utrecht know each other from work in a tapas bar in the capital. Among them are Jimmy’s older sister and her boyfriend.
‘Special atmosphere’ at the entrance
For this reconstruction spoke The parole with about twenty people involved in the festival and its aftermath in different ways.
Some people from Schepers’ group of friends notice that there are many people hanging around outside the festival grounds. Other visitors also notice that there is a ‘special atmosphere’ at the entrance. There are types that you normally don’t see at house and techno festivals. Visitors will later speak of a group of ‘intruders’ who came not for the music and the party, but to cause some trouble.
Several people also notice that searches do not seem to be carried out meticulously. Not all bags are carefully examined. It seems as if sampling is being done. According to the organization, searches were carried out according to protocol.
Security has their hands full at the moment. Quite a few people try to get in with fake tickets. Furthermore, groups of people try to climb over the fences: people have certainly entered this way.
At one of the entrances, a female security guard was run over by a group of men. An attempt to stop the group fails. The situation outside is worrying. Festival organizer Apenkooi contacts the police. A few nearby units are taking a closer look. Soon the ‘fence climbers’ are caught, although that is actually the responsibility of the organization.
The festival organizer will then move the entrance to the front, so that visitors can be checked for tickets earlier.
Spit in the face
Inside, a cash register has already been pulled from the counter by a bar employee. The employee was spat in the face. What strikes several people at the festival is that there are people present who deviate from the regular audience.
The atmosphere on the festival site is occasionally grim. Some women don’t feel safe and don’t dare to go from A to B without their boyfriend.
Around six o’clock in the evening, a 19-year-old festival visitor from Amstelveen sees three ‘dark boys in tracksuits’ strolling across the festival grounds. One of them is wearing a black T-shirt from the Amsterdam clothing brand Four. It seems ‘as if they are hunting’, according to the visitor. One of the boys gets behind him and the other two grab him. The boy feels a knife piercing his body. “If you do something stupid, we will puncture you,” he is told. The men go through his pockets, looking for a ‘greenhorn’ (a hundred euro note). In the end they steal him for less than fifty euros.
“Do you still want to live?”
The Solid Grooves festival has two stages. One is inside a warehouse. It’s quiet there. Because of the nice weather, many people are outside in front of the mainstage. Around a quarter past eight, the group in which Jimmy Schepers’ sister’s friend is part tries to squeeze through the crowd at the main stage.
Crowded, he suddenly gets into trouble with a portly boy in a yellow fluorescent jacket. There is some pushing and comments are made. Then the boy in the yellow coat suddenly finds himself with his head against the head of Jimmy’s sister’s boyfriend. An altercation ensues. “Do you know who I am?” asks the man in the yellow coat. And: “Do you still want to live? I’m going to djuken (stab, red).”
At that moment it remains a fight; the situation is not escalating yet.
About half an hour later, the boy in a black T-shirt from the Four brand suddenly puts his arm around a festival visitor with a pair of Cartier sunglasses worth almost a thousand euros on his head. The glasses are taken away. At the same moment he gets a black knife of about 15 cm pressed against his stomach. “If you don’t renounce, I will stab you to death,” the man says. Next to the man who threatens him is the stout man in the yellow coat. A few boys stand around them.
Just after nine o’clock in the evening, Jimmy Schepers’ sister sends a photo of the main stage asking if the rest of the group would also like to come there. At the time, Jimmy does not know about the run-in that his sister’s friend had with the boy in the yellow coat an hour before.
The boy in the yellow coat just runs into Jimmy’s sister’s boyfriend again. With him is also the man in the Fourshirt. Immediately the quarrel from before flares up again. “You’re going to plead!” the sister’s friend is told. “You go to sleep.” The boy in the yellow jacket slaps the sister’s boyfriend on the face. Immediately the situation escalates: there is a lot of fighting. The boy in the yellow coat pulls out a box cutter and stabs the sister’s boyfriend in the shoulder. The boy in the Fourshirt has pulled a knife from his waistband and stabs another friend in the wrist and chest with it.
Jimmy Schepers is just on the spot at the main stage at that moment and jumps in between. He is stabbed in the stomach. People see him run away and collapse seriously injured at a crush barrier in front of the main stage. There he is resuscitated by festival staff.
Just before half past nine, the police received a report that there had been a stabbing at the festival.
Fear of new fights
After the stabbing, the boys who stabbed try to escape through the fences around the festival site. The boy in the yellow fluorescent jacket is caught by a security guard and handed over to the police. “You’ll get your turn, I’ll catch you,” shouts the boy in the yellow jacket as he is handcuffed to Jimmy’s group of friends. The boy in the black Fourshirt is also arrested at the festival. Both are twenty years old.
Monday evening, a third suspect is arrested by an arrest team in the center of Amsterdam.
Jimmy is transferred to AMC. There he fights for his life. His sister’s friend has a stab wound in his shoulder and is also taken to the hospital. The 22-year-old man who was stabbed in the wrist and chest is also being treated in hospital.
After the explosion of violence, the organization is in contact with the police again. Jimmy Schepers is then only known that he was seriously injured and taken to the hospital. It is decided to gradually phase out the festival in order to allow the outflow of visitors to proceed gradually. This means that the volume of the music goes down and the DJs are asked to stop playing exciting music. With this, the organization wants to prevent the situation from escalating further, and to encourage visitors to go home steadily. According to the police, for example, not enough taxis are immediately ready to take visitors home. There is a fear that new fights could arise there.
That evening, Jimmy Schepers from Diemen dies in hospital from his injuries. While his family has to come to terms with the incomprehensible, the now empty festival site turns into one big crime scene.
Meanwhile, videos of the stabbing go from phone to phone. Photos and names of the possible perpetrators are also shared. The police, like Jimmy Schepers’ family, are calling for images of the stabbing to be shared with the police.
Until Tuesday afternoon, the Forensic Investigation Department will investigate together with agents. They walk in line across the grounds to find and secure any evidence. Roofs in the area are also searched with a cherry picker and magnets are used to fish in wells.
At one of the fences, the police find a Stanley knife. A black knife is found at a picnic table somewhere else on the festival grounds. Remarkable detail: this part of the site was only accessible to people with a crew wristband from the organization. How the knife got there is under investigation.
The death of Jimmy Schepers sent shock waves through the city. A sea of flowers has now sprung up at his family’s restaurant in East. Friends and acquaintances gather at the store to share their grief.
The three suspects are still in custody. All are suspected of co-perpetration of manslaughter, two counts of attempted manslaughter and open violence. The suspects arrested at the festival are also suspected of theft with violence; the man arrested on Monday also for extortion.
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