On Wednesday, the license of a concert venue in Rochester, New York, was revoked while authorities investigate a stampede that occurred after a rap concert, resulting in the deaths of two women and injuries to several other attendees.
Police Chief David M. Smith denied the Main Street Armory’s application to renew its one-year entertainment license after the venue owner failed to attend a scheduled meeting with police and other city officials.
Rhondesia Belton, 33, of Buffalo, and Brandy Miller, 35, of Rochester were fatally injured when audience members surged towards the exits following a Sunday evening performance by Memphis, Tennessee, rap stars GloRilla and Finesse2tymes.
Police on Monday suggested that the stampede may have been triggered by unfounded fears of gunfire, but no immediate evidence of gunshots was found.
One woman remained hospitalized in critical condition on Wednesday. The city planned to meet with the venue’s owner on Wednesday to ask him to choose between voluntarily halting events or having the pending renewal of the entertainment license denied.
However, when the owner did not attend, the chief signed an order prohibiting the armory from hosting “any public entertainment, which includes concerts, amplified music, and athletic events or games, including volleyball or cheerleading.”
According to the city’s letter to Scott Donaldson, the owner violated a licensing requirement to maintain order at the site.
The city’s deputy corporation counsel, Patrick Beath, stated that criminal and regulatory investigations are underway, and the Rochester Fire Department and code enforcement teams are inspecting the building and reviewing photographic and video evidence of the concert to determine if there were any fire code or building code violations at the property.
The fortress-like armory was built from 1905 to 1907 and was initially used by the U.S. Army.
It 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 began hosting concerts and other events in 2005 after undergoing extensive renovations. Smith said its main arena is meant to have a capacity of about 5,000 people.
The chief stated that lives were lost, and they need to take steps to ensure that no lives are lost in the future if this was preventable.
Fatal crowd surges at large events have turned deadly before, including one at a 2021 concert by rapper Travis Scott in which 10 people died.