A front door that security officials at the South Boston convention center locked to better secure the facility during the Pax East show in April got the convention-center authority hauled before the Boston Licensing Board today because police said it would have impeded people getting out in an emergency.
Although the convention center has numerous exits, BPD licensing detectives told the board today that during an inspection on April 7, in the middle of the popular gaming convention, they found a large crowd of people standing near a shut revolving door at the front, trying to get out.
The door, which was both locked and duct taped, with a stanchion in front of it, had been shut to help funnel people trying to get into the convention through metal detectors, authority attorney Dennis Quilty said. And that was because city, state and federal law-enforcement agencies had declared the event, which brings tens of thousands of gaming fans to Boston, a high-security event, he said.
"That door could have been opened by a child in a second," Quilty said, adding "there were plenty of staff nearby if anything occurred" - including a security guard with a key for the door. And, in fact, at the request of two licensing detectives, staff re-opened the door.
But as he was saying that, BPD Det. Daniel MacDonald was shaking his head no. MacDonald said it took "forever" - more specifically, about ten minutes - for somebody on the security staff to locate the door's key. And even after they found the key, a guard had trouble getting it to open the door.
MacDonald added the door appeared to be shut not to funnel people towards the metal detectors but because somebody had run an extension cord through it to power the detectors. "You would think they'd have a power source out there" that wouldn't require an extension cord, let alone one that meant shutting a door.
The licensing board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take.