Two women were killed when attendees at a GloRilla concert in Rochester, New York, rushed to the exits after the show on Sunday night, police said.
A woman, Rhondesia Belton, 33, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said early Monday morning. The second victim, identified only as a 35-year-old woman, died of her injuries later Monday.
Another 35-year-old woman remained in critical condition Monday night, police said.
Police first said officers responded to a report of gunfire at the Main Street Armory shortly after the concert ended around 11 p.m. and that “injuries appear to be the result of a large crowd heading towards the exits following accounts of individuals hearing what they suspected to be gunshots.
Later Monday morning, however, the Rochester Police Department said that “there are reports that gunshots were heard causing panic in the crowd, but this has not been confirmed.”
Police said they are still investigating the possible cause of the crowd surge, “including crowd size, gunshots, pepper spray, etc.”
Seven other people were taken in private vehicles to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Alec Richardson of CBS Rochester affiliate WROC-TV tweeted that he “saw a firefighter performing CPR, presumably on a casualty at the scene.”
About an hour after the incident, GloRilla, a Grammy-nominated rapper from Memphis, tweeted that she had just heard what had happened and that she was “praying that everyone is well”.
After learning of the second death, she tweeted that she was “devastated and heartbroken by the tragic deaths that occurred after Sunday’s show. My fans mean the world to me praying for their families and for a speedy recovery for all people affected.”
Mayor Malik Evans called the deadly stampede “completely unacceptable” and promised a full investigation into whether venue operators had put in place the necessary security measures for a large crowd.
“We’re going to hold people accountable for what happened last night, period,” Evans said, though he warned it was too early in the investigation to assign blame. “I intend to get to the bottom of it.”
The armory hosted sporting events throughout the 20th century before being closed for several years from the late 1990s, in part because it lacked a fire suppression system at the time.
It reopened after extensive renovations and began hosting concerts and other events in 2005. Smith said its main arena is expected to have a capacity of around 5,000 people, and the city’s fire marshal will work with police to determine if that capacity was exceeded on Sunday.
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, a Saturday performance by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, has been canceled.
“If you go to a concert, you don’t expect to be walked on,” Evans said. “Your loved ones expect you to come home and talk about your experience at this great concert.”