Albuquerque Journal

1 dead, 9 hurt in stampede at NY rap concert


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 rapper Travis Scott in which 10 people died.

Built from 1905 to 1907 and first used by the U.S. Army, the armory hosted sporting events in the 20th century before being shut down for years in the 1990s, partly because it lacked a fire suppressio­n system at the time.

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