Batman Stops Mob Melee
The 17th annual "Djepelgesh Festival" at Siberia Plaza in Little Odessa was hit last night by a hail of gunfire, killing seven. Batman intervened within minutes, preventing further casualties in an incident which police say may be related to Gotham's ongoing mob war.
Djepelgesh is a Chechen dish principally made of dough, spices, and potatoes, and its unique odor can be smelled throughout the Chechen district. This year's theme for the Djepelgesh Festival was the Chechen saying "A River May Change Its Course" and was widely thought to refer to Gotham's current mob wars. But the theme's apparent yearning for calm respite in a city shaken by sensational crimes, the Narrows Attack, and the emergence of the caped crime-fighter known as Batman was not to be.
The festivities were shattered by the end of the night, with sirens blaring, police cars careening around corners, bodies on the ground, and the Bat signal lighting the sky.
It was the fifth Gotham festival devastated by mob-related violence since all-out war hit the city last Thanksgiving. Gunfire and deaths also marred the Filipazzo Community Festival in November, Gotham Square's New Year's Eve Party, Downtown's "Sweetheart Night" on Valentine's Day, and the recent "Olive Oil Festival" in Little Italy.
"A festival gives the warring factions a chance for a very public display of their power," said longtime mob watcher James Levine. "Plus, mob soldiers let down their guard and attend these parties, where they are vulnerable to an attack."
The attack on the Djepelgesh Festival quickly became grist for the heated campaign for district attorney. Assistant DA Harvey Dent sped to the scene and spent much of his time comforting shocked onlookers. District Attorney Roger Garcetti issued a statement vowing to "track down and lock up" the perpetrators.
The incident started just after 10:30 pm, as party-goers were enjoying a set of romantic duets by the beloved Chechen duo "Kheiree & Sergey." Witnesses say several men emerged out of manhole covers on the corner of 3rd and Adams dressed in Gotham City Sanitation Department uniforms. They then unzipped their bags, fished out sub-machine guns, and unleashed a torrent of bullets upon the staffers of the Dzhabrailova Security booth.
The initial shooting led to a sustained exchange of bullets. "People were going crazy," said witness Vasily Dubrovnik, 28. "It was complete pandemonium, I was afraid I was going to be trampled to death at one point, God forbid," said Dubrovnik.
At one point, gunmen were shooting at each other from behind taffy-apple booths, djepelgesh tasting stations, and soft-serve ice-cream dispensers. "It was this bizarre combinations of just silly festival stuff and absolute horror," said Gotham's cotton candy maven Namir Gilboa, who rented a booth close to the Giovanni Security headquarters.
Dead in the melee were five Dzhabrailova Security men - Abdul Belgatoi, 34, Faris Salmovich, 23, Vitali Kazkez, 22, Lem Makhadov, 24, and Dzhokhar Komanovitz, 21. Twelve citizens were taken to the hospital, where two of them died - Jessica D'Alejandro, 32, of Gotham Heights, and Jeffrey Cargarman, 19, of Farrow.
All the deaths and casualties occurred in the minutes before Batman appeared out of the Gotham night. With his now familiar rapid descent, Batman snatched one of the gunmen and sent the rest scurrying for safer grounds.
"It was almost like the shooters were scared of Batman," said Gilboa. "As soon as they saw him, they ran."
Dzhabrailova Security has long been suspected of having ties to the Chechen mob, and police sources tell The Times that they are "almost certain" the shooting was related to the ongoing mob war in Gotham.
GPD officials refused to release the name of the gunman they are holding, saying that the case was under investigation. GPD has been reluctant to quickly release information on mob-war incidents ever since they were blamed for fueling counterattacks in the aftermath of the Gotham Amusement Park melee.
In that incident, GPD spokesmen announced that they were holding a member of the Gambol crime family in connection with killings. Later that night, three Gambol men lost their lives in a car bombing in an apparent revenge attack. But soon, GPD admitted that the suspect was not a Gambol soldier but instead belonged to the Falcone family.
In the angry aftermath, GPD was sued by relatives of the fallen Gambol soldiers. The unusual case is still making its way through the Gotham courts. After a short investigation, the GPD changed its policy regarding publicizing particular crimes.
"We don't want to be used to cause more bloodshed during this mob war," the source told The Times, "so we tend not to release any information on mob-war perpetrators so as not to instigate retribution."
The Djepelgesh Festival has a short but dramatic Gotham history, and was the scene of one of the most infamous mob assassinations in the city's history. In that incident in 1987, crime boss Sultan Obrimiv was killed as he stripped to his underwear to enjoy the festival's trademark "Chechen Grapeseed Oil Massages" offered by that year's anointed Miss Djelpelgesh.
After the shootings this time, there were calls from the stage to "fight back against criminals" by staying in Siberia Plaza and celebrating. But the mood had been broken, and the dance floor, food lines, and milling festival-goers quickly emptied out. Odes to the Chechen dish were replaced by cries of grief as yet another Gotham festival ended in bloodshed.