Ariana Grande Mom Helped Rush Fans to Safety

5/23/2017 7:12 AM PDT

Ariana Grande's Mother Rushed Fans Backstage to Safety During Manchester Bombing Chaos

EXCLUSIVE

Ariana Grande's mother was still sitting in her front row seat when the bomb went off, and helped escort some of her panicked young fans backstage.

Multiple witnesses in the arena tell us Joan Grande was surrounded by several concertgoers who were waiting to leave the arena when they heard the explosion. We're told Joan was about to go backstage to see Ariana at the time.

As the chaos of people fleeing for exits started ... Joan told a group of kids -- possibly as many as 10 -- seated around her to come backstage. We're told she and members of Ariana's security took the fans backstage and waited with them until they were able to safely exit the arena.

As we reported, Ariana was an emotional wreck after hearing about the casualties. She's suspended her tour in the wake of the attack.