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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jamie Grierson and Heather Stewart

Second woman dies after Brixton concert crush

Gabrielle Hutchinson
Gabrielle Hutchinson has been named as the second woman to have died after a crowd crush at the O2 Brixton Academy last Thursday. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

A security guard has become the second person to die after a crowd crush at the O2 Academy Brixton last week.

Gabrielle Hutchinson, 23, was working as a contracted security provider at a performance on Thursday by the Nigerian Afrobeats singer-songwriter Asake.

Police were called to the venue in south London at about 9.35pm after reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry. They found a number of people with “injuries believed to have been caused by crushing”.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, from Newham, east London, also died after the incident, and police say a 21-year-old woman remains in critical condition. All three women were in the foyer of the 4,921-capacity venue.

Ikumelo, a mother of two, was a nursing graduate and regularly posted on TikTok about parenting an autistic child.

Ch Supt Colin Wingrove of the Metropolitan police said on Monday: “It is devastating news that a second person has lost their life following the events on Thursday. I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to Gabrielle’s family at this unimaginably difficult time.”

Detectives from the Met’s specialist crime command are working on the investigation, which is described by the force as large and complex. Officers are reviewing CCTV and phone footage, speaking to witnesses and conducting forensic examinations.

Police cordons outside the venue have been removed but cordons remained in place inside the building while officers continued to examine the scene.

A witness who attended the performance and asked to remain anonymous, said that when the crowd was told to leave they were given no specific instructions about how to do so. “After people left, as people were leaving they were still struggling to leave because there was a massive stampede outside,” they said.

“The side doors were now opened, so I was able to get out through the side doors. Thank God I didn’t get caught up in that. It wasn’t until maybe 15, 20 minutes later that I saw that the side doors were now open.

“I left and my journey back was fine – I was not aware of this whole thing until I saw it a few hours later – and it made sense to me. You just had more people going towards the main exit, from multiple directions.”

An online page has been set up for the submission of photos, videos and information, and the Met has asked anyone with such material to use this facility. There were about 4,000 potential witnesses present at the time of the incident, the Met said.

The force has made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, as is standard after incidents where police have been in attendance and members of the public have died or been seriously injured.

Sadiq Khan said: “I am devastated by the death of Gabrielle Hutchinson, the second life to tragically be lost following the appalling events on Thursday night in Brixton.

“On behalf of all Londoners, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones at this extremely difficult time. Gabrielle, like Rebecca Ikumelo, had her whole life ahead of her and had every right to come home safe and well after her shift working at Brixton Academy. My thoughts remain with everyone affected by this dreadful incident.”

The mayor of London urged anyone with information to submit it via the online portal. He said: “City Hall are in close contact with the venue and authorities across London about working to ensure nothing like this happens again and I won’t rest until we have the answers all those impacted by the tragic Brixton incident need and deserve.”

In a statement, O2 Academy Brixton said: “Our heartfelt condolences are with Gabrielle Hutchinson’s family and friends. We continue to be devastated by this tragic situation and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.”

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