New information released about Main Street Armory investigation

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UPDATE: The Rochester Police Department has released its investigative action report from the stampede at the Main Street Armory, which sheds light on what likely caused the crowd to surge, what security measures were in place at the time and how a large group of people trying to get into the venue toward the end of the show made the situation worse.

According to the report, there was a special detail of eight Rochester Police officers outside the venue on the evening of March 5. The Armory had also hired a security team of 40 people and the performer, GloRilla, had her own private security.

The general manager of the Armory reported to police that there were roughly 3,900 people in attendance, and the capacity of the venue is 5,000. The cameras inside the venue were dummy cameras that did not record. Investigators say there were no external video sources at the Armory or any independent sources in the immediate area, but several videos and posts on social media were reviewed and captured, as was body-worn camera footage from responding officers.

Despite 911 calls and reports of a possible shooting, stabbing and overdose inside the venue, it appears the noise that triggered the stampede came from confetti poppers that went off at the end of the concert.

Making matters worse, according to investigators, was a group of about 200 people that were outside on the front steps of the Main Street Armory trying to get into the venue with less than 20 minutes remaining in the show. Some of the people were insistent on being let in, claiming they had VIP tickets. Eventually, the group was able to overtake security and gain entry into the foyer.

Security attempted to block them from getting into the main concert area almost right around the same time the confetti poppers went off. Thousands of people were trying to exit via the front doors and were met by hundreds who were trying to get in with security guards in the middle.

RPD says it interviewed more than 100 concert-goers and tipsters in the days following the stampede and found no evidence the front doors were locked at the time the concert concluded.

The NYS Department of Health has indicated to RPD that it is issuing a subpoena to the Armory’s owner and the promoter to establish an accurate head count of attendees.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – No one will be held criminally responsible after three women died in a stampede at a concert at the Main Street Armory on March 5.

The City of Rochester made the announcement Monday, nearly two months after Rhondesia Belton, 33, of Buffalo; Aisha Haskins-Stephens, 35, of Syracuse; and Brandy Miller, 35, of Rochester died during a GloRilla concert. They were trampled when the crowd rushed to escape after someone thought they heard gunshots.

Three days later, the City of Rochester revoked the venue’s entertainment license. It is still revoked.

In a statement, the City says,

Law Department, Police and Fire Departments, Department of Neighborhood and Business Development and Code Enforcement teams conducted an extensive investigation over several weeks. The teams completed numerous interviews and comprehensive inspections, and compiled the information for consideration by the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.  Based on the information and evidence, both the RPD and DA’s Office determined that there is no basis for criminal charges in this case. In light of the tragedy at the Armory, the City is reviewing its entertainment licensing procedures to identify and implement additional conditions that would increase safety and security for entertainment patrons in Rochester.”

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke reached out to the City for details on the investigation to find out whether the venue had an appropriate number of security guards onsite, if all of the emergency exits and doors were operational and open, whether a fire Marshall visited the venue, if the crowd was at or over capacity the night of the concert. 

The only answer the City gave was that “The investigation confirmed that at the time of the incident, the doors were open and operable.”

When asked whether the family members of the victims had been briefed privately on the investigation, Brandy Miller’s sister told News10NBC she has not heard from the City since her sister’s funeral in March. 

Concert attendees told News10NBC it was pure chaos as the crowd started surging toward the exits just as the show wrapped up. Some people reported hearing what they thought were gunshots, but investigators said there was no evidence of gunfire. The three women were trampled as people tried to flee.