On Friday night, a sold-out heavy metal concert at the Apollo Theater in Belvidere, Illinois, turned tragic when the roof collapsed, killing one person and injuring 28 others. According to officials, five of the injured individuals had severe injuries. The venue, which was hosting the metal bands Morbid Angel, Revocation, and Skeletal Remains, had approximately 260 people, including staff and performers, inside when the roof collapsed. Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said that the cause of the collapse is still unknown, but officials received a tornado warning from the National Weather Service at 7:45 p.m. CT, and the roof collapsed ten minutes later.
The first responders who arrived at the scene found the building in “absolute chaos,” said Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woodley. The theater’s marquee and facade had crashed onto State Street, and several people were seen being taken away on stretchers. Multiple ambulances and first responder crews responded to the incident, and officials are still investigating the cause of the roof’s collapse.
Many people in the metal community were devastated by the news of the incident, including Theresa Best of Woodstock, who was on her way to the concert when friends began calling her frantically to let her know what had happened. “The metal community is so nice, and my heart just aches for anybody who did lose their life,” Best said. “I just hope all my friends are OK.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been closely monitoring the incident and has been in touch with officials to direct any available resources to assist. The band Morbid Angel posted a message to their fans on Facebook, alerting them that the show was canceled due to the tornado that hit the venue. “We ask anyone who is still traveling to the venue to please seek shelter and stay safe,” the band wrote. “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.”
The roof collapse at the Apollo Theater is a tragic reminder of the danger severe weather can pose. Officials urge people to stay informed and prepared for severe weather conditions and to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones.