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PD: Several people hurt after incident at Celebrity Theatre outdoor concert

Celebrity Theater lil durk concert
Posted at 11:23 PM, Apr 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 00:04:13-04

PHOENIX — Authorities said multiple people were injured while fleeing a packed outdoor concert Saturday night in the parking lot of Celebrity Theatre after some reported hearing sounds of gunshots, which may ultimately have been a dropped microphone.

Phoenix police officer responded to the venue's parking lot concert, near 32nd and Van streets, around 10 p.m. Saturday after receiving calls reporting shots fired during "Smurkchella," a music event featuring rapper Lil Durk and others.

Videos on social media showed concert-goers running from the area, chairs on the ground, and multiple police units at the venue.

Police at the scene initially told ABC15 on Saturday that a woman at the front of the stage was grazed in the leg by a gunshot. However, Sunday morning, a Phoenix Police Department spokesperson clarified that officers were unable to locate anyone with gunshot wounds.

Several witnesses at the scene and a manager who works at Celebrity Theatre told ABC15 a microphone dropped by an artist on the stage may have caused concert-goers to believe they heard gunshots.

Police said a few people suffered non-life-threatening injuries when they tried to leave the area. One person reportedly suffered scrapes while trying to climb a fence and run from the concert.

Andrew Birgensmith, the general manager of Celebrity Theatre, who was also out of town and not at the venue, told ABC15 via phone on Sunday morning that there was not a shooting at the venue or in the parking lot.

He also said the event was not produced or promoted by them, but that the promoters for "Smurkchella" were renting the use of the parking lot from Celebrity Theatre and that the event logistics and security were their responsibility.

Birgensmith said he was told up to 3,700 tickets were sold for the event, but that 5,000 to 7,000 people were allegedly in attendance. He told ABC15 that he believes the event's staff was overwhelmed by the number of people there.

In a tweet, Lil Durk claimed that 10,000 people were at the Saturday event.

Birgensmith said that the outdoor seating for the concert was not assigned and had pod seating, where six people could be in their own unit. The pods were reportedly on a first-come, first-served basis.

Later in the day on Sunday, "Smurkchella" organizers posted a statement on Instagram denying that there was a shooting.

"Yes, some things did go unplanned! It's a concert, the first concert on the (heels) of a pandemic! We pushed for weeks to try to let as many people safely in as we could to experience this festival. Was that a mistake? In hindsight, maybe, but we wanted to do that for all of you who wanted to be at Smurkchella..." the statement read, in part.

Celebrity Theatre also posted a statement to its social media accounts on Sunday.

"Celebrity Theatre was not the promoter for last night's Smurkchella event. Celebrity Theatre was simply the rental venue. We were not involved in the logistical coordination of the event whatsoever," the statement read.

"While we regret any inconveniences associated with the event, all complaints, constructive criticism, and refund requests should be sent to the promoter," followed by an email address.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Celebrity Theatre has not yet reopened its indoor venue, but has rented out its parking lot for outdoor concerts since November, Birgensmith said.