Belvidere officials give update after 1 killed, dozens injured in Apollo Theatre roof collapse

At least one dead after roof, ceiling collapse at theater in Belvidere

BELVIDERE, Ill. (CBS) -- Officials in Belvidere held a press conference Saturday morning to provide an update on the events leading to a roof collapse at the Apollo Theatre. 

The collapse happened during a concert Friday evening as severe storms with 90 mph winds blew through. 

Officials provide update in Apollo Theatre roof collapse in Belvidere

A 50-year-old man was killed in the collapse, officials confirmed. Another 28 were injured - including two with life-threatening injuries, two others with severe injuries,18 with moderate injuries, and five with minor injuries. 

More than 40 people were treated at local hospitals. Most injuries included orthopedic, head and neurologic trauma, and soft tissue injuries, said Dr. Matt  Smetana with Mercy Health.

There are no reports of anyone missing.   

According to officials, a tornado touched down in Boone County- leaving a line of damage, most notably at the theatre. Warning sirens sounded at 7:24 p.m. with the call of the collapse reported at 7:47 p.m. just two blocks down from the station. In addition to the venue, numerous buildings were also damaged as a result of the storm. 

1 killed, over 2 dozen hurt after roof collapse at Belvidere venue

The sold-out concert began at 7 p.m. Death metal bands Morbid Angel, Revocation, and Skeletal Remains were on the bill at the venue.

The collapse happened about 30 minutes into the concert. The first call came in as a mass-casualty collapse.

About 260 people were inside the theater for the concert – including the crowd, the staff, and the bands, Schadle said. The capacity of the theater is around 1,500.

Video from the scene showed the marquee collapsed to the ground, as did a large portion of the large bowstring truss roof.

Bricks were also seen lying in the middle of the street. Some debris landed on nearby cars.

Inside the theater, the ceiling right in front of the proscenium collapsed – leaving the space open to the outside with lightning flashing. People were likely gathered in front of the stage at the time.

Officials provide update on Belvidere theater collapse

Belvidere police Chief Shane Woody described the scene when police arrived.

"Chaos. Absolute chaos," he said. "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. 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."

Illinois state Rep. Dave Vella (D-Loves Park) said he was out to dinner with his wife in nearby Rockford, and rushed to Belvidere once he found out about the collapse.

"It's just horrific what's happened. Apollo Theatre is one of the heritage places around here, and this damage is just heartbreaking," Vella said.

Vella said the freak storm caused severe damage in a small area.

"Rockford is only about 10 minutes away, and we didn't get much," Vella said.

Gov. JB Pritzker says he's been in touch with officials to direct any available resources.

Social media video from witness Mike Winters showed people stepping in to help after the roof and ceiling collapsed. There were reports that people were still trapped hours after the collapse, but Vella said by 10 p.m., everyone had been cleared from the building.

A Chicago Fire Department source said there was a request for 20 ambulances. Multiple police and fire departments were sent to the scene including seven EMS agencies able to provide service with many of those ambulances making multiple trips. 

No first responders were injured, Schadle said.

Vella said hundreds of people were at the concert, and a lot of scared family members were at the scene late Friday.

"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," Vella said. "This was not a great time for this."

CBS 2's Marissa Perlman spoke with a high school student who rushed to the scene to help out. He said he grew up in Belvidere, and spoke with a father whose 19-year-old son was hurt.

Chaos follows roof collapse during severe weather at theater in Belvidere

"I did witness when I first got here that they did have people out on stretches out in front of the Apollo Theatre," said Jayden Gallagly. "It looked like they were trying to get ambulance access; EMTs."

Schadle said the MABAS 8 Technical Rescue Team remained at the scene as of the 10 p.m. hour, both conducting secondary searches and working on stabilizing the building.

Those with family and friends in the area who are looking for people who attended the concert should go to the fire station.

State Street is still closed and secured by fencing as debris removal is underway. The theatre and buildings located across have been condemned due to the damage. 

Illinois Emergency Management Agency
Illinois Emergency Management Agency
Illinois Emergency Management Agency
Illinois Emergency Management Agency

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

The Apollo is located at 104 N. State St. at the north end of the Belvidere Business District.

According to Cinema Treasures, the Apollo Theatre opened in 1921 as a stage play, movie, and vaudeville venue. It has been a live music venue caked the Apollo Theatre AC for the past several years.

It was said the once vacant building was renovated not too many years ago.

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