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Here's what's in the Rochester police report on the deadly Main Street Armory crowd surge

The main doors of the Rochester Armory, painted black, with the street number '900' at the top
Max Schulte
The front doors of the Main Street Armory at 900 E. Main St. On March 5, after a concert featuring musical acts GloRilla and Finess2tymes, a surge of people tried to exit the building through these doors, injuring several people and leading to the deaths of three women.

This story was updated May 2 at 3:36 p.m. with details from the Rochester Police Department report.

Criminal charges will not be filed in the fatal crowd surge at the Main Street Armory in March that left three women dead and several people injured, Rochester and Monroe County officials announced Monday.

The victims were trampled after a GloRilla concert on March 5 as a panicked crowd rushed suddenly toward the Armory’s double-door front entrance.

Mayor Malik Evans ordered an investigation in the aftermath of the incident and vowed to hold any wrongdoers accountable. His administration also temporarily suspended events at the Armory.

But a probe, conducted over several weeks by multiple city agencies and reviewed by the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, revealed no wrongdoing.

“Based on the information and evidence, both the (Rochester Police Department) and the (District Attorney’s) Office determined that there is no basis for criminal charges in this case,” read a statement from the city.

The statement went on to read that the city was reviewing its entertainment licensing procedures with an eye toward enhancing safety at entertainment venues.

The investigation was conducted jointly by city police, fire officials, lawyers, code enforcement inspectors, and representatives of the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development.

On Tuesday, the Rochester Police Department released its investigative report in response to media inquiries. It said that police were unable to determine what prompted the surge.

Some concertgoers at the time suggested that there had been gunshots, but police found no evidence of gunplay.

The report showed that a crowd of 200 people arrived outside toward the end of the concert, claiming to have VIP tickets and wanting to get in. Security started to let some in but were eventually overtaken and the crowd filled the foyer.

“Security attempted to create a stronghold on the inner, wooden doors, to maintain this crowd in the entryway,” the report states, and that is when the concert ended and the crowd rushed the exit, creating a “traffic jam.”

Tamira DeJesus described the crush of people trying to leave the venue like “a wave pool,” and recalled being tousled from side to side by concertgoers and security guards attempting to contain the escalating situation.

“We were being smushed, literally,” she said. “I've been suffocated because people were pushing us in and people was trying to push out at the same time. And then people were like stepping on people at the door, and it was just, it was very, it was scary.”

Armory officials estimated the crowd at 3,000 to 3,900 people. The facility has a capacity of 5,000. The RPD report stated that while there was conflicting information about whether the front doors were locked and chained during the concert, arriving officers observed unlocked chains on the front doors. The armory had few if any working security cameras, and the facility’s DVR system had not saved a video since 2014.

There were 40 private security working the concert, plus 10 to 15 security personnel employed by the armory. The performers’ security team remained backstage and left immediately at the end of the concert. There was no evidence found of gunshots or a stabbing. Investigators wrote, “there were reports, along with the smell of pepper spray being utilized.”

The Armory has been a major venue for traveling musical acts and conventions for decades. In late March, after the incident, the venue was sold to a limited liability company for $550,000.

Gino Fanelli covers City Hall. He joined the staff as a reporter in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.
Brian Sharp is WXXI's business and development reporter. He has been covering Rochester since 2005, working most of that time as an investigative reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.
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