‘Everybody get out’: Rochester Police camera footage shows chaos, tragedy of Armory stampede

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – When first responders showed up at the Main Street Armory on March 5, they were confronted with chaos.

Moments before, during the GloRilla and Finess2tymes show, someone in the crowd thought they heard gunshots. Panicked, people tried to flee. Three women were killed in the stampede.

MORE: Remembering the three women who died after concert stampede at the Armory

About 30 minutes of the immediate aftermath was caught on Rochester Police body-worn cameras.

The view from one officer’s body camera shows people streaming out of the doors of the building as he arrives. Within seconds, a security guard approaches.

“We need you to call the ambulance. Somebody just got trampled inside,” she says.

“Trampled?” the officer asks.

“They’re trampled inside and they’re suffocating and they can’t breathe and somebody is in there unresponsive,” she tells him.

“Walk me in there,” he says.

The officer tries to make his way through the crowd, but it’s chaos.

“I’m here to help! Police! I’m here to help!” he yells.

Initially, he can’t get in because so many are rushing out.

“Security does not have control of the situation inside, so I’ll be staged outside,” he says.

But when he’s told the women who’ve been trampled are just inside the door, he tries again.

“We have three unconscious females. We need more cars,” he orders. “Everybody – get out!”

He crouches down to start to give CPR to one of the victims. Security officers do the same for two other women.

As they tend to the injured, a woman can be heard praying over them.

“Please, father God, in the name of Jesus, please bring her back. Please,” she cries.

As the minutes tick away, we learn that same woman is a friend of one of the victims. She explains what happened to a different officer.

“We got trampled over. We were on the ground, literally on the floor. Everybody trampled over us inside. I got out. She didn’t.”

Officers then continue to try and clear a path for EMS and fire crews.

“Can we start pushing this way? We’re trying to get ambulances in here for people who are hurt,” one says.

The video also shows people helping people – in some cases, physically carrying friends out of the door.

Eventually, officers form a line on top of the stairs of the Armory to prevent people who are looking for lost loved ones from returning inside.

As paramedics rush the victims to the hospital, police officers go into the actual event space where the surge began.

And then, they start talking with security guards about what happened.

“All of a sudden, people started screaming,” one woman says. “Somebody said somebody was shot. I did not hear gunshots, nothing, but people rioted. They just took off. I started to get pushed further and further back. People were literally, they were under me, I was against the table and the wall and I was down and everyone was on top.”

Police have never found evidence of any shooting.

The footage shows a number of officers search the rest of the building for additional victims. They didn’t find any, but they did find another issue.

“Why is this emergency exit not opening?” one officer asks.

The door next to it opens and he goes outside to look around before coming back in to check the other door again.

“Well, that’s a fire code violation,” he says.

News10NBC had specifically asked the City of Rochester whether all of the emergency exits were working at the time of the stampede and we were old, “All doors were open and operable.”

But two separate videos from two different police officers show at least one did not open.

“Why is this emergency exit not working?” the officers asks.

Rochester Police say they confirmed the front doors were open and unlocked at the time because those were the doors relevant to the criminal investigation. But it was a spokeswoman for the mayor who told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke all doors were open and operable.

On Friday, News10NBC asked the mayor’s office about this, and was told that based on the information it has, all doors were operational during a post-event inspection but they will now be double-checking.

The City of Rochester determined that after reviewing all the police camera footage, in addition to videos from social media and interviews with witnesses and security, that there was no basis for criminal charges in this case. The families of the victims are planning to sue the Armory and promoters civilly.

The event space remains closed.