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 the venue 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.
Police made their way inside and found three badly injured women. One, age 33, died at a hospital. The two others were in critical condition Monday, police said. Seven additional people were treated at area hospitals for injuries that were not life-threatening.
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“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 the venue’s 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.”
Emails requesting comment were sent Monday to the 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 a 2021 concert by rapper Travis Scott in which 10 people died.
Built from 1905 to 1907 and initially used by the U.S. Army, Rochester’s armory hosted sporting events throughout the 20th century before being shut down for several years starting in the late 1990s, partly because it lacked a fire suppression system at the time.
It reopened after extensive renovations and began hosting concerts and other events in 2005. Its main arena is meant to have a capacity of around 5,000 people, Smith said. The city’s fire marshal will work with police to determine whether that capacity was exceeded Sunday, he said.
Mayor Evans said it was too early to say whether the venue’s next scheduled show, a Saturday performance by the rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, would be allowed to take place.
“If you go to a concert you do not expect to be trampled,” Evans said. “Your loved ones expect you to be able to come home and talk about the experience that you had at that great concert.”