One person was killed and dozens more injured when a sudden storm cell caused the roof to collapse on a venue hosting a heavy metal show headlined by Morbid Angel in Belvidere, Illinois.
The incident occurred roughly 30 minutes into the 7 p.m. concert at Belvidere’s historic, century-old Apollo Theatre; while Friday night’s concert — featuring a bill of Morbid Angel, Revocation, and Skeletal Remains — at the 1,500-capacity venue was sold out, only 260 people were inside the venue at the time of the roof’s collapse.
“Tonights show is 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,” Morbid Angel wrote on Facebook Friday night.
“We ask anyone who is still traveling to the venue to please seek shelter and stay safe. 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.”
(While a Belvidere resident’s Ring camera captured what is believed to be a tornado in the area, the National Weather Service has not yet confirmed that a tornado touched down in the area, ABC Chicago reports.)
In addition to the one death — the identity of the victim was not announced at press time — five more people were rushed to nearby hospitals with severe injuries, while 18 more had moderate injuries, Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said (via CBS Chicago).
Belvidere police chief Shane Woody described the scene 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,” Woody told reporters. “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.”
The sudden storm cell in the city 75 miles north of Chicago brought winds of 90 miles per hour, causing severe damage in Belvidere. “It’s just horrific what’s happened. Apollo Theatre is one of the heritage places around here, and this damage is just heartbreaking,” Illinois state Rep. Dave Vella — who was in nearby Rockford at the time of the incident and traveled to Belvidere in the aftermath — told reporters. “This was a huge storm that hit this area, and I tell you, we as a community have been hit hard by a lot of economic stuff right now. This was not a great time for this.”
Illinois governor JB Pritzker tweeted Friday, “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.”