A bomb threat forced Patti LaBelle from the stage mid-show while a near-capacity audience was evacuated at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater during her Christmas concert on Dec. 10. A video taken from Riverside Saturday shows LaBelle, 78, speaking with an audience member celebrating her 70th birthday while accepting a bouquet from another fan as two men, who seemed to be her security personnel, quickly approached the R&B legend on stage. In response to the threat, security personnel escorted LaBelle offstage in the middle of her performance, leading to LaBelle's shocked and confused, "Hold up. Wait!" before being rushed out. The band members rush behind her as audience members ask, "What happened?" Audience members were initially confused, but the crowd was led out safely. "Tonight's Patti LaBelle show at the Riverside Theater has been postponed following a bomb threat investigated by the Milwaukee Police Department," a statement from concert organizer Pabst Theater Group said. In a statement shared by a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter following the threat, Milwaukee police confirmed that all patrons had been safely evacuated, and authorities cleared the facility.
"Regarding the bomb threat in the 100 block of W. Wisconsin, all patrons have been safely evacuated," Capt. Warren Allen Jr. said in an email around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. "Police are clearing the facility at this time. The investigation is fluid and ongoing." A statement issued by Allen at 1:13 a.m. Sunday said, "The building was searched by K9 units. No explosive devices were discovered. There is no threat to the public at this time." In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Catherine Brunson, who recorded the moment, said the evacuation happened around 9:24 p.m., barely two songs into LaBelle's show. She estimated that the theater, which seats 2,500 people, was close to capacity.
My love goes out to you Patti Labelle. You tried to make it such a loving and joyful holiday and someone had to ruin it for you #pattilabelle #Milwaukee #riversidetheatre #threat pic.twitter.com/VBRqANgA3D— Sunshine ⁷ 🌻 (@sunny_seokkie) December 11, 2022
Another attendee, Scott Pierce, told the outlet that everything "happened so quickly." "Everybody very calmly exited the theater in a disbelieving manner. I heard lots of comments about how sad it was that someone would pull such a pathetic stunt. "Before the incident, the crowd was really enjoying Patti," he added. "Just sad that someone does this." No statement relating to the evacuation was posted on LaBelle's social media pages as of this writing. "Tonight's @MsPattiPatti show at the Riverside Theater has been postponed following a bomb threat investigated by the Milwaukee Police Department," Pabst Theater Group wrote. "We are thankful for the efforts of the Milwaukee Police Department and our customers and staff for their safe and orderly exit." Moreover, the Pabst Theater Group informed audience members that they were in the process of rescheduling the show with the soul artist.