The roof of the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Illinois, collapsed during a sold-out concert as heavy storms swept through the area on Friday night, killing at least one person and injuring at least 28 others. According to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, several ambulances were dispatched to the area. Several stretchers were observed leaving the scene.
When emergency workers rushed to treat the injured, the theater’s marquee and facade collapsed into State Street, scattering bricks and debris in its wake. The metal bands Morbid Angel, Revocation, and Skeleton Remains played to an audience of about 260. Around 7 o’clock, the concert would begin.
“We are currently sheltering in place, and want to extend our support and hope that everyone at the show tonight is safe,” Morbid Angel wrote in a Facebook post.
“Right now our focus is on making sure everyone in the venue tonight is ok and gets home.”
Theresa Best, a resident of Woodstock, was on her way to the concert when she started receiving panicked calls from her friends informing her of the tragedy. Friends of hers were inside the cinema, she claimed, and she hasn’t been able to contact them.
“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.” Although the firehouse is direct across the street, Belvidere’s chief of fire, Shawn Schadle, reported that firefighters arrived within two minutes.
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MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) Rescue Team is currently conducting a second, more comprehensive search and working to stabilize the building, as Chief Schadle explained. Around 7:45 p.m., ABC7 meteorologist Cheryl Scott reported that a powerful storm cell with winds of more than 50 mph had passed over the Belvidere region.
Scott speculated that a tornado may have touched down, but National Weather Service personnel will need to inspect the area to be sure. In a tweet, Governor JB Pritzker said his team is keeping tabs on the situation and has been in touch with local authorities.
The California Examiner is a must-read for everyone who wants to stay on top of the latest developments and insightful commentary.