Loved Ones Mourn GloRilla Concert Stampede Victims: ‘You Did Not Deserve This’
On Sunday night, Memphis rapper GloRilla performed in front of a crowd of more than 4,000 people, who flocked to the Rochester, New York venue Main Street Armory for the show. Sharing a bill with rapper Finesse2Tyme, the fast-rising artist ran through a complete set, sending a satisfied audience on its way at the end of the night. But as attendees exited the venue, false reports of a shooting led to chaos. In the midst of the resulting stampede, eight people were injured and three women were killed. One of the women —33-year-old Rhondesia Belton — was remembered by her friends and family as a loving mother known as “Desia.”
“Desia baby girl I love you and I’m going to miss you dearly,” Marie Verse wrote on Facebook. “I’ve been knowing you since she was a little girl and it’s crazy because now you were one of my daycare parents and I have the joy of being able to take care of your son.”
She continued: “You were one of the most dedicated loving moms that I know. Your son was your world you don’t even like to go outside because you like to be home with your son so this breaks my heart so bad that you took time out for yourself just to enjoy life a little bit. You did not deserve this and I am so broken behind this. Rest peacefully angel. I am praying for your mother and your sister with everything inside of me. I can’t even [fathom] the pain that they are going through.”
In a separate post, Kandra Barrett wrote: “Desia was really one of a kind, everybody know Desia with the birthmark. THEE crusader, with the fire body, and didn’t play about her sister not one bit!!! Mannn ima miss you girlfriend!!! You supported my business plenty of times, you even brought auntie Rhonda to come get some of my food. This is the sickest thing I ever heard of.”
Danielle Gallon, who had shared a close friendship with Belton since they were nine years old, simply shared: “Heartbroken into pieces.” In October, Belton celebrated Gallon’s 33rd birthday, writing: “24 years with you has been a complete blessing specially having kids together. I trust you with everything in me.”
“Last night I lost someone very close to my heart,” Zontail Lamar wrote on Facebook. “I’m so lost I can’t breathe she meant that much to me life will never be the same for me.”
During a news briefing on Monday, Police Chief David M. Smith confirmed the findings that the stampede was caused by a perceived fear that gunshots had been fired, though no shots were actually found to have been fired. “We do not have any evidence of gunshots being fired or of anyone being shot or stabbed at the scene,” he said. “What began last night as a night of live music and fun for the performer GloRilla ended in tragedy with one person dead and two more fighting for their lives.”
A 35-year-old woman from Syracuse, Brandy Miller, and a 35-year-old woman from Rochester, Aisha Haskins were hospitalized in critical condition, according to a press release from police sent Monday afternoon. The two women, as well as Belton, were transported to Strong Memorial Hospital after the concert. All three have since died from their injuries.
“My sister just was a ball of energy, Brandy was life, she lived her life, she was life. She represented happiness, life, like she was the life to everybody, she was our life,” Miller’s sister Michelle told Rochester First. “She was just happy a happy person. Didn’t live her life to other standards, she lived her life to what she wanted it to be.”
She added: “My sister is a Black, strong, African American hero today in her death she still stands a hero so yes, I consider her a hero on International Women’s Day. So, Brandy Monae is a hero, and she will live on.”
Tanisa Spencer, who has organized a GoFundMe to raise funds for Miller’s funeral, captioned the fundraiser: “Brandy’s life was one full of love and joy. If you knew her, you knew that her spirit could lift anyone out of a bad mood. She cherished her life and celebrated her loved ones. She was a loving sister, auntie, niece, and friend. In the spirit of her generosity, we donated her organs so that she can live on through others.”
On Facebook, Miller’s sister Chelley remembered her kindness, writing: “As kids every where I went Brandy went. We shared the same room, we had matching out fits. Brandy would give the clothes off her back. She use to steal my clothes off my back and give ‘em to people.” She also worked in the health industry as a nurse.
Latisha Hare attended the concert with her close friend Haskins. On Facebook, she recalled the unexpected tragedy of arriving as a pair and leaving alone. “March 5th will always be the worst day of my life! Going to a concert then leaving without my best friend has forever changed my life!” she wrote. “I will always have to live with the thoughts and visions of this day that constantly replay in my head! I am not okay, my children are not okay, I am angry and I am upset! Our lives flashed before our eyes in a matter of seconds. Life is too short! Love on those who love you while they’re still here! Im traumatized and I will never be the same! I love you Aisha Katherine Haskins until the death of me.”
Haskins was a teacher and cheerleading coach in Syracuse. “She really is such a positive person and role model for her students, cheerleaders, god children, and Adults,” Hare added in a separate post. “To know her smart mouth behind is to love her literally. She would literally give you the shirt off of her back if she could. I’d do anything to hear her voice and call her talking shit again. Blood couldn’t make us any closer.”
Tim Kirkland, who worked with Haskins, wrote: “I remember this cheer y’all use to do at Kirk Park if we [lost], while we walked off the field y’all would say the words ‘WE ARE PROUD OF You’ … Just wanted to say those words back I don’t think I got a chance but WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!”
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions,” Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said at a news conference. “It’s something that all of us who love concerts worry about. When you go to a concert you do not expect to be trampled. Your loved ones expect you to be able to come home and talk about the experience you had at that great concert.”
Approximately one hour after police responded to initial reports of gunshots on Sunday night, GloRilla tweeted: “I’m just now hearing about what happened wtf. Praying everybody is ok.”
March 7, 4:22 a.m. ET: This post has been updated to reflect the updated death toll.
March 9, 3:03 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to reflect the updated death toll and name two additional victims.