Unfounded fears of gunfire at a rap concert in Rochester, New York, sent a crowd rushing toward the exits in a stampede that killed one person and left two others fighting for their lives, authorities said.
The Memphis rap stars GloRilla and Finesse2tymes had finished performing Sunday night at Rochester’s Main Street Armory when people exiting just after 11 p.m. began to surge dangerously, Police Chief David M. Smith said at a news briefing Monday.
“We do not have any evidence of gunshots being fired or of anyone being shot or stabbed at the scene,” Smith said.
Concertgoer Ikea Hayes returned to the venue Monday to retrieve belongings she left behind.
“I was watching my life flash before my eyes, and I still didn’t even know what was going on,” she told Rochester television station WHEC. She described being “on the ground, just scared, praying, like, you got to get up, you got to move.”
Police found three badly injured women in the auditorium. One, identified as Rhondesia Belton, 33, of Buffalo, died at a hospital. The others, both 35, from Rochester and Syracuse, were in critical condition Monday, police said. Seven additional people were treated at area hospitals for injuries that were not life-threatening.
“What began last night as a night of live music and fun for the performer GloRilla ended in tragedy with one person dead and two more fighting for their lives,” the chief said.
While there is no evidence of gunfire, Smith said, police are investigating several possible causes of the fatal surge, including “possibly crowd size, shots fired, pepper spray and other contributing factors.”
Mayor Malik Evans called the fatal stampede “totally unacceptable” and promised a through investigation into whether venue operators had the necessary safety measures in place for a large crowd.
“We are going to hold people accountable for what happened last night, period,” Evans said, though he cautioned that it was too early in the investigation to assign blame. “I intend to get to the bottom of this.”
There was no immediate response to emails requesting comment sent Monday to the Main Street Armory.
GloRilla, whose 2022 song “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” with Hitkidd was nominated for a Grammy for best rap performance, tweeted that she was “praying everybody is ok.”
Fatal crowd surges have been a recurring disaster at concerts and other large events in the U.S. and around the world, including one at a 2021 concert by …read more