Hi Gary, that's absolutely possible. The feature is called "Live Sampling".
As long as your mic which is recording the audience is amplified up to "line level" using a preamp or mixer of some sort, the SP-16 can sample it from the inputs on the rear of the device.
Live Sampling allows for immediate grabbing of audio and then replaying it either automatically or manually. You can additionally trim the sample's start and end points once you exit out of Live Sampling mode.
And of course, yes, you can take one long sample and spread it across the pads to have 16 different start points, which you can manually set in the TRACK MENU > PLAYBACK area.