Roof At MORBID ANGEL Concert In Illinois Collapses; 1 Dead, 28 Hospitalized

April 1, 2023

Shortly before MORBID ANGEL was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theater in Belvidere, Illinois, on Friday night (March 31),the venue roof collapsed, killing one person and injuring at least 28 more, five of them severely.

The Belvidere Police Department said 260 people were in the venue when the collapse occurred as a heavy storm rolled through the area. The capacity of the theater is around 1,500.

Officials were notified by the National Weather Service of a tornado warning at 7:45 p.m. CT. The roof collapsed ten minutes later, according to Belvidere Fire Department chief Shawn Schadle.

Belvidere police chief Shane Woody described the scene when police arrived as "Chaos. Absolute chaos. When officers are first on the scene, when the fire department and first responders get here, they do the best they can to control the chaos as much as possible," he said. "But ultimately, we go in, and ultimately try and find people, and save as many people as we possibly can — and bring them to safety as best as we can."

One person who was inside the theater when the collapse happened told Rockford Scanner (see video below): "It was in between sets. The first band had just played. People were going outside to smoke. And then all the people came running back in, 'cause the rain started coming down real heavy. Then all of a sudden the door that they came out of was swinging back and forth, slamming super hard. All the power went out in the building and the entire ceiling collapsed on everybody in the front area — right at the stage, on the stage, the people behind the stage; that sector of the building. When it came down, it blew me out towards the exit door. I crawled out a hole through the door and I escaped without a scratch; I don't know how I did. But there's definitely casualties and 50, about a hundred wounded — severely. It's horrible."

"Initially, I was confused because it felt like an earthquake, and I was thinking, 'Why would there be an earthquake right now?'" an audience member at the concert who narrowly escaped injury told The New York Times. "As soon as that happened. I watched as the entire roof collapsed on everybody, basically right where we were standing."

The concert was part of MORBID ANGEL's 2023 U.S. tour, featuring support acts CRYPTA, SKELETAL REMAINS and REVOCATION.

According to the venue's official Facebook page, doors were scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m., with CRYPTA set to perform at 7 p.m., SKELETAL REMAINS at 7:45 p.m., REVOCATION at 8:40 p.m. and MORBID ANGEL at 9:40 p.m.

MORBID ANGEL took to Facebook to write that the show was being canceled "due to a Tornado that hit the Venue, and caused the roof, over the area in-front of the stage , and marquee to collapse.

"We ask anyone who is still traveling to the venue to please seek shelter and stay safe," the band added. "We are currently sheltering in place, and want to extend our support and hope that everyone at the show tonight is safe.
Right now our focus is on making sure everyone in the venue tonight is ok and gets home."

Janell Emmanuel, the mother of MORBID ANGEL guitarist Trey Azagthoth (born George Emmanuel III), took to her Facebook page to write: "Concerning the tornadoes that destroyed a venue MORBID ANGEL would be playing tonight. I spoke with Trey. He was in the back of the bus when this happened but he said everyone was OK. I could tell he is physically shaken by this as he saw the building collapse and knew their were people inside. All of the band members from the four bands thank God we're safe. It seems like it happen after CRYPTA finished, and before the next band entered the stage. Trey said a very large oak tree just missed the bus but that they were safe.

"Our saddest regrets and prayers go out to the members of the families who have lost love ones. Please be as respectful for those that are hurting.

"Trey was not sure about the continuing of the tour but I will do my best to keep you updated. Again, let's give our thoughts and prayers to those who have lost their love ones.

"I am totally shaken by this and I think God all band members are unhurt."

CRYPTA guitarist Tainá Bergamaschi said in an Instagram post that all the bands that were scheduled to perform tonight "are safe."

CRYPTA vocalist/bassist Fernanda Lira took to the BLABBERMOUTH.NET Facebook page to write: "We're all safe and sound (bands and crew). We (CRYPTA) lost our RV since a part of the ceiling fell on it. Lots of fans injured, i heard there's 2 deaths."

The collapse was reported as severe storms with 90 mph winds blew through the area.

According to local reports, at least 20 ambulances were dispatched to the theater, which is located roughly 14 miles outside of the city of Rockford.

Illinois governor JB Pritzker said of the disaster: "My administration is closely monitoring the roof collapse at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere tonight.

"I've been in touch with officials for updates and to direct any available resources we can. As we learn more, please follow the guidance of all local authorities."

Photos and video taken at the venue show that the theater's marquee and façade had crashed on to the street, with debris littering the area as first responders worked to help the injured.

Belvidere is located in Boone County, about 72 miles from Chicago.

The Apollo Theatre opened in 1921 as a stage play, movie, and vaudeville venue.

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