A woman who lost her daughter in The Station nightclub fire took responsibility Tuesday (September 16) for pulling crosses dedicated to GREAT WHITE guitarist Ty Longley from the site of the blaze, according to the Providence Journal.
Diane Mattera, of Warwick, said she took Longley's crosses down because his band set off the pyrotechnics that sparked the Feb. 20 blaze, which killed 100 people including Longley and Mattera's daughter, 29-year-old Tammy Mattera-Housa.
"I was told that he had a cross put up and where it was, and I was very upset ... so I went there to see," Mattera told The Associated Press. "Once I saw it, that they made his so different than the rest of the crosses, like he was better than the other victims, like he deserved more respect than the other people. ... I said, no, this can't be."
Mattera said that on Friday afternoon (September 12), she picked up two crosses and threw them in the woods nearby. She said she left a note behind that contained her daughter's name and said Longley "killed" her daughter.
"Ty's cross does not belong with my daughter's," Mattera told The AP. "That's it, pure and simple."
West Warwick police were investigating, but would not comment after Mattera took responsibility for the incident on WPRO radio Tuesday afternoon.
Mattera said she had not been contacted by police.
One of the original crosses for Longley was made by his father and his girlfriend. Attached to it were pictures of Longley's son, Acey Ty, who was born this summer. The other cross was made by The Station Family Fund, which was set up to help the victims.
Mattera said Longley's crosses were painted differently than the crosses left for the other victims.
"He was a victim too," Mattera said. "But it was his band. He knew they were going to set off the pyrotechnics that night."
Longley's girlfriend, 27-year-old Heidi Peralta, was horrified when she learned that Longley's cross had been "stolen." She said Longley knew nothing about the pyrotechnics.
"Ty was an innocent victim just like those men who went to work at 9/11. They walked into the building and went to work," said Peralta, of Plainfield, Ill. "Ty walked into the building and went to work and he was killed innocently in a tragic, horrible fire."
Mattera referred to a makeshift memorial left in honor of those killed in the 1999 attacks on Columbine High School. Two crosses had been erected there for the students who went on the Colorado killing spree, but a father of one of the victims tore them down.
"They didn't take guns and shoot at families, but they killed us just the same," Mattera said of GREAT WHITE. "It might not have been intentional but the end results were the same."
No charges have been filed, but a grand jury is investigating.
"I don't know how she can find out who's responsible when the state of Rhode Island hasn't found out yet," Peralta said.
An attorney for the band was out of the office and unavailable for comment.
Jody King, an official with The Station Family Fund, and a friend have already made a replacement cross for Longley. The new memorial is steel and in the shape of a guitar, with a bar intersecting the guitar's neck to complete the cross shape. It was placed in concrete, so it could not be removed.
"I will be there sooner or later," Mattera said. "Not with everybody watching right at this moment. But I will be there and that (cross) will somehow disappear."