LONDON — A number of people were injured, including four who were taken to hospital with what were described as critical injuries, during a crowd stampede at a concert by Nigerian singer Asake on Thursday (Dec. 16) night at London’s O2 Academy Brixton.
The Metropolitan Police has launched an urgent investigation into the incident, which occurred after a large crowd gathered outside the venue and apparently tried to force their way in.
In total, eight people were taken by ambulance to hospital to treat injuries “believed to have been caused by crushing,” said the police in a statement. Four of those eight were treated for critical injuries and three remain in a critical condition, said police Friday afternoon. Two other less seriously injured people were treated at the scene by ambulance staff.
Police said they were called to the venue, which can hold just under 5,000 people, at 9.35pm local time following reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry to the venue.
Videos shared on social media show a chaotic scene with large crowds of people waiting outside the O2 Academy Brixton. Some footage appears to show people trying to force their way past security and through locked doors. Other videos show clashes taking place between police and concert goers.
One witness speaking to the BBC said they estimated that more than 1,000 people had turned up to the gig without tickets.
The concert was called off after just 10 minutes, according to social media posts from people at the show. One video posted on TikTok shows Asake tell audience members, “They said outside is fucked up already, so we have to end the show. I don’t know why. It’s not me.”
Another video shows a member of Asake’s team walk onstage and tell the crowd that the show is being cancelled because the venue’s security has been breached. “You’ve got 3,000 people [who] have broken the doors outside and because of security, police have asked us to close the show. We apologise to you. This is nothing to do with us,” says the unidentified man to a loud chorus of boos.
Before Thursday’s concert, which was the third of Asake’s three sold out shows at O2 Academy Brixton, the artist had posted a statement on Twitter asking fans not to come to the venue if they didn’t have a valid ticket.
In a statement posted Friday on Instagram, Asake said, “My heart is with those who were injured last night and caused any form of discomfort.”
Asake went on to say that he was in “the process of reaching out to individuals” [who have been hurt] and was waiting for “the full brief from the venue management themselves as to what led to the disruption at the entrance of the Brixton Academy, but we are thankful that all was peaceful at the end.”
Billboard has contacted Asake’s management and O2 Academy Brixton for comment, although neither is yet to respond.
“This is an extremely upsetting incident which has left four people critically ill in hospital,” said Met Police Gold Commander Ade Adelekan. He said that the investigation into the incident “will be as thorough and forensic as necessary to establish exactly what happened.”
That will include specialist officers examining the scene and reviewing CCTV. The Met’s professional standards team will also view all material gathered, including Body Worn Video footage from the officers at the scene.
“Where force has been used by police officers, those officers know they have to be accountable for their actions,” said Adelekan. One person has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said in a tweet he was “heartbroken that this could happen to young Londoners enjoying a night out in our city” and would “not rest until we have the answers their loved ones and the local community need and deserve.”