Two women were killed Sunday night when attendees of a Gloria concert in Rochester, New York rushed to leave after the show, police said.
One woman, 33-year-old Rondesia Belton, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said Monday morning. The second victim, identified only as a 35-year-old woman, died of her injuries later Monday.
Another 35-year-old woman was in critical condition Monday night, police said.
Police initially said officers responded to a report of gunfire at the Main Street Armory shortly after the concert ended around 11 p.m., and “the injuries appeared to be the result of a large crowd pushing toward the exit after people described what they heard. What were believed to be shots were fired.”
Later Monday morning, however, the Rochester Police Department said that “there are reports that gunshots were heard, causing the crowd to panic, but this has not been confirmed.”
Police said they are still investigating possible causes of the surge, “including the size of the crowd, gunshots, pepper spray and more.”
Seven others were taken to area hospitals in private vehicles with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Alec Richardson of CBS Rochester affiliate WROC-TV tweeted that he “saw a firefighter performing CPR, possibly on a victim at the scene.”
Major emergency response at the Main St. Armory after a concert. Witnesses told me at least three women were trampled as concertgoers left the venue. I saw a firefighter apparently performing CPR on a victim. More information at News 8 in Sunrise. #roc @News_8 pic.twitter.com/462O90ByOv
— Alec Richardson (@alecr66) March 6, 2023
About an hour after the incident, Memphis’ Grammy-nominated rapper, Gloriala, tweeted that he had just heard what happened and that he was “praying everyone is OK.”
Mayor Malik Evans called the deadly stampede “totally unacceptable” and promised a thorough investigation into whether venue operators had the necessary safety measures in place for the large crowds.
“We’re going to hold people accountable for what happened last night,” Evans said, though he cautioned that it was too early to assign blame in the investigation. “I want to get to the bottom of it.”
The armory hosted sporting events throughout the 20th century before closing for several years in the late 1990s, partly because it lacked fire suppression systems at the time.
It reopened after extensive renovations and started hosting concerts and other events in 2005. Smith said its main arena has a capacity of about 5,000 people, and the city’s fire marshal will work with police on Sunday to determine if that capacity has been exceeded.
City officials said the facility underwent a physical fire safety inspection in December and was in compliance with fire codes.
The venue’s next scheduled show, Saturday’s performance by rapper A Boogie with the Hoodie, has been canceled.
“If you go to a concert, you don’t expect to be trampled,” Evans said. “Your loved ones hope you can come home and talk about your experience at that great concert.”