One person died when the roof of the Apollo Theater collapsed during a performance of Morbid Angel


Belvidere, Ill. – One person died and 40 were injured on Friday when the roof of a concert hall collapsed during a strike in the heart of a city reeling from the closure of a factory last month.

Tornado sirens sounded in downtown Belvidere at 7:24 p.m. Friday as more than 200 people were at the Apollo Theater for a concert headlined by Florida-based metal band Morbid Angel. It is not known whether those at the concert heard or responded to the siren.

About 23 minutes later, the Apollo roof collapsed, Boone County Emergency Management Director Dan Sagard said. Some concertgoers were trapped under the rubble, while others rushed to their rescue and pulled people from the rubble, officials said.

Concertgoers tried to help the dead man, who was in his 50s.

“He was under the rubble,” Chagard said at a Saturday afternoon news conference. “He’s already gone.”

Officials said the quick response of concertgoers and first responders prevented a worse tragedy.

“If it wasn’t for their quick actions and their planning and preparation for this storm, things would have looked very different today. But because of that, we saved lives,” said Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nado, referring to the fire department’s search and rescue effort.

The city’s fire chief, Shawn Shadle, said at a news conference Saturday that he did not know if the man who was pronounced dead at the scene was working at the venue or had attended the concert. Officials declined to identify the man.

Two people had life-threatening injuries, Schadle said Saturday, and 40 others were treated for injuries.

OSF St. Anthony Medical Center spokesman Paul Argo told The Washington Post Saturday afternoon that the Rockford hospital was treating 12 patients, ages 14-47; Two were in critical condition.

The band Morbid Angel, who headlined Friday’s show, shared their “deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends” of the deceased.

“Last night we lost a brother in metal and many others were hurt and injured in this tragedy,” the band posted on their post. Facebook page Saturday afternoon. “We want to express how grateful we are to those who attended (fans, venue staff, bands and crew) to get people out and help with safety.”

The band thanked the first responders, who they called “true heroes.”

The storm was one of several that wreaked havoc across the Midwest and South over the weekend after severe weather killed at least 26 people.

On Saturday morning, dozens of residents gathered in downtown Belvidere to watch the rubble surrounding the century-old Apollo, where part of the roof that lay in the middle of the street crashed into the sidewalk.

The theater used to be the place to go in town, said resident Dave Weiner, 54. The former theater became a popular venue for Quinceanera celebrations and all-ages concerts, including a Friday night performance.

“It’s the only thing the young people in town do; Now it’s gone,” Weiner said.

He was walking down the road to the Buchanan Street pub, which was less crowded than usual when the show was on.

Between 7:30 and 8 p.m., power cuts began and televisions flashed warnings, he said.

The next morning, police and firefighters pushed visitors aside as some wondered what would happen to the building. Belvidere, a city of 25,000 people about 70 miles northwest of Chicago, is facing serious economic challenges after a Jeep assembly plant went dark last month.

Bob Flynn, 66, surveyed the damaged theater holding his shorty, Jack Russell terrier.

“The people who owned it spent a lot of time and money. It’s good for the community,” Flynn said. “Now it’s going to be like a ghost town.”

Maria Martinez bought the Apollo 25 years ago with her brother, Eduardo Avila, so that their family could revitalize the building and the community it served. Rockford Register Star.

He replaced the roof twice by 2017, the newspaper reported at the time.

No one responded to messages left by The Post at numbers listed for Martinez and Eduardo Avila Saturday morning.

The Apollo is a historic site and landmark in Belvidere, so important to the city’s identity that the mayor described it as “like our brand.” The building has undergone renovations in recent years, Mayor Clinton Morris said at a press conference Saturday.

Even if the building is condemned after the storm, engineers will determine whether it can be salvaged; Officials said the cleanup could take weeks.

McDaniel reported from Washington.

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