March 15, 2012 2:54pm PT by Shannon Ma
'Project X'-Inspired Party Leads to Teen Killing
A Houston rave that was meant to mimic a massive party thrown in the film Project X spiraled out of control and left a teen dead Wednesday morning.
The victim died at Ben Taub General Hospital after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, Houston police told ABCNews.com
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The party is one of a string of copycat parties that have been held to emulate the ultimate party in the film, which was directed by Nima Nourizadeh and written by Michael Bacall and Matt Drake.
Word of the spring break bubbles-and-foam party spread quickly via social media, and about 300 to 600 guests attended the event.
Daniel Menjivara, a 22-year-old college student, said that Project X and spring break brought out the partygoers that night.
Officials arrived at the vacant mansion, which has previously been used as a party location, around midnight to shut the party down when neighbors called to complain about the noise levels. The mansion, which is surrounded by a field, was still not enough space to accommodate such a large turnout.
Soon after, the overcrowded party dispersed into the streets, and arguments began to erupt among guests.
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“Then, about 30 minutes later, all hell broke loose -- gunfire,” said neighbor Amos Miles to ABC affiliate KTRK.
"Kids took to the streets, but the parking lot was overpacked, so you couldn't get out," Menjivar said. "It was just people in the actual street. They got into arguments and started shooting each other."
Attendee Willie Armstrong told KTRK he witnessed the shooting.
“[The gunman] was just walking, and he pulled out a gun and started shooting, like for no reason,” said Armstrong. “He shot that boy in the back of the head, and he fell on the ground by the car. He was just laying there."
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The suspect then turned the gun on police officers when they began to pursue him but was able to flee and remains at large.
“I asked some of the kids why, and they said Project X. And I said, 'OK, what's Project X?'" Mark Stephens, a private investigator working for the homebuilder told ABC affiliate WFAA. "When you look at the movie, and you look at what happened here, the parallels are uncanny. It was a copycat. They did everything that I saw in the movie."
“It’s a tragedy. It’s a loss,” said Miles. “Somebody lost their child, which could have been avoided.”
Project X opened in theaters March 2. The film, which revolves around three friends who plan to gain popularity by throwing a party, was met with some criticism for celebrating such extreme irresponsibility. Bacall spoke to THR about the strong reactions to the film, saying, “I think we’d be disappointed if there wasn’t some kind of outraged response to Project X.”
“I think the movie’s really about the revelry and being in that moment and feeling like you’re in the party when it all goes to hell, and just kind of going through those emotions," he added.
At the Feb. 29 premiere, Project X director Nourizadeh commented on the debate over whether the hard partying could be imitated by its audience: "I don’t want to speak whether it is irresponsible or promoting certain things it shouldn’t,” he said. “It’s an R-rated movie. It all depends on the individual whether you take inspiration from it.”