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2 dead, 8 injured in crowd crush at GloRilla concert in New York

Fans were leaving the concert in Rochester on Sunday night when the crowd began to surge and rush for the exit, with some reporting they heard gunfire inside the venue, police said.
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A second concertgoer who died after a crowd surge at a packed hip-hop concert in Rochester, New York, has been identified.

Police identified the second victim Tuesday as Brandy Miller, 35, of Rochester. Authorities said Monday that Rhondesia Belton, 33, of Buffalo, New York, died at a hospital.

A third concertgoer who suffered life-threatening injuries remained at a hospital in critical condition, the Rochester Police Department said in its update Tuesday. She was described as a 35-year-old woman.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Belton was a city employee who had been hired just last year and worked in the city of Buffalo Traffic Violations Agency.

"She tragically lost her life yesterday while attending a concert in Rochester," he said in a tweet sharing a photo of Belton. "Her family, friends, and colleagues are devastated and left to mourn this tragic loss. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers."

Seven other people had non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Fans were leaving GloRilla's show at Main Street Armory just after 11 p.m. Sunday when they may have heard gunfire, causing an apparent panic, Rochester police said.

"The crowd began to surge and rush toward the exits," Police Chief David M. Smith said Monday.

The police department said in a statement that no evidence of gunfire or other violence has been found, but Smith said the claims were under investigation. He said officials were also looking into the crowd size and the possibility that pepper spray may have triggered the surge.  

Investigators hope concertgoers' photos and video might help them determine what took place, police said.

Officers had to stage outside because crowds were still exiting, Smith said. They remained there until "they were eventually able to make their way inside," he said at the news conference.

Once they were inside, they found three women "with significant injuries," the police statement said.

"As the night went on, an additional seven people arrived at local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries from the event," police said.

The venue passed a fire inspection in December, NBC affiliate WHEC of Rochester reported Monday. Main Street Armory said on its website it has a capacity of 5,000.

An organization listed as the promoter of the concert has not responded to requests for comment.

GloRilla, whose real name is Gloria Hallelujah Woods and whose 2022 song “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” with Hitkidd was nominated for a Grammy for best rap performance, tweeted just before 12:15 a.m. Monday that she was "just now hearing about what happened."

“Praying everybody is ok,” she said.

On Monday, she tweeted, "I am devastated & heartbroken over the tragic deaths that happened after Sunday’s show. My fans mean the world to me."

GloRilla was among a number of artists to perform at the recent Grammy Awards Hip-Hop 50th Anniversary Tribute, which featured a star-studded lineup, including Missy Elliott, Ice-T, Busta Rhymes, Public Enemy, Nelly, Queen Latifah and Run-D.M.C.

Sunday night's incident is the latest fatal crowd surge at a concert in the U.S. In 2021, 10 people were killed in a massive crowd rush at a show by the rapper Travis Scott.

Crowd expert Paul Wertheimer has said that incidents in which people are killed or hurt by the sheer collective force of concertgoers have a few elements in common: free-roaming festival seating, a trigger such as gunfire or a countdown, poor planning and poor crowd-flow management.

He said initial reports often label the events as stampedes, but they are almost always cases of people's being crushed as they stand because too many people are in not enough space. Concertgoers do go down, he said, which he calls "crowd collapse."