Information continues to come to light in the aftermath of the deadly crowd surge during Travis Scott‘s set at his Astroworld Festival in Houston, TX on Friday evening.
Per various witness accounts, the main stage area began to become overcrowded when the programming at the event’s secondary stage finished for the night and the entire crowd of roughly 50,000—which had been dispersed throughout the grounds throughout the day—pushed in toward the main stage where Scott was due to perform. When the performance began, the crowd pushed further forward, crushing people in the front of the audience against each other and the surrounding metal barriers and leaving them with nowhere to go.
“At approximately nine o’clock, 9:15, the crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage,” said Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña during a press conference late Friday night. “That caused some panic and it started causing some injuries. People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
While Scott briefly stopped the performance and called for security when he noticed an ambulance attempting to get through the crowd, the show quickly went on. In the wake of the incident, various videos have circulated of people in the crowd chanting and begging camera operators, to no avail, to stop the show and help the endangered fans. As fans were falling out in the crowd, Scott welcomed fellow rapper Drake to the stage for a surprise appearance. The entire performance—including the brief pause for the ambulance to get through—was streamed live via Apple Music.
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Kylie Jenner, Travis Scott’s partner who is pregnant with their second child, was at the event with the couple’s three-year-old daughter. As Jenner said in a written statement posted to her Instagram story early Sunday morning, “Travis and I are broken and devastated. My thoughts and prayers are with all who lost their lives, were injured or affected in anyway [sic] by yesterday’s events. And also for Travis who I know cares deeply for his fans and the Houston community. I want to make it clear we weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show and in no world would have continued filming or performing.”
“It seemed like it happened over the course of just a few minutes,” Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite told CBS News. “Suddenly, we had several people down on the ground experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode. And so we immediately started doing CPR, and moving people right then, and that’s when I went and met with the promoters, and Live Nation, and they agreed to end early in the interest of public safety.”
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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gave a press conference on Saturday afternoon during which he explained that the situation would be under investigation for the foreseeable future. “There are a lot of unanswered questions,” he said, “and over the next several days, several week, could be even longer, we’ll take an in-depth look at everything that took place, why it took place, what steps we can do moving forward to mitigate an incident of this kind taking place at any other point in time.”
The investigation would look into the planning and implementation of safety, security, and medical resources at the event, the causes of the sudden surge and crowd panic, and any other factors that may have contributed to the incidents. “Perhaps the plans were inadequate, perhaps the plans were good but they weren’t followed, perhaps it was something else entirely,” added Linda Hidalgo, the top official for Harris County, which includes Houston.
Another element of the investigation, according to a county official, would be whether too many people had been in attendance. Earlier in the day, some had rushed the gate, and some people may have entered without tickets—perhaps even with the encouragement of Travis Scott himself. Still, at the news conference, officials said the concert venue had not technically been overcrowded. “They could have had over 200,000 people in this venue; this venue was limited to 50,000,” said Fire Chief Peña, adding that the issues appeared to take place not at the exits but in the crowd itself.
The exact cause of the burst in cardiac episodes and people falling unconscious is still undetermined, although reports of at least one security guard being injected in the neck with an unknown substance have prompted widespread speculation.
In his press statement early Saturday morning, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner confirmed, “We do have a security guard, according to the medical staff that was out and treated him last night, that he was reaching over to restrain or grab a citizen, and he felt a prick on his neck,” Finner said. Per ABC 13, “The security guard lost consciousness and was treated with Narcan, a drug used to combat the effects of opioid overdoses.” Finner added that investigators were still trying to locate the security officer involved.
[UPDATE 11/11/21]: In a press conference on Wednesday, November 10th, Chief Finner provided updates on the ongoing investigation into Friday’s incidents at Astroworld. Regarding the security guard who was reportedly pricked in the neck with a needle in the crowd, Finner explained, “We did locate that security guard. His story is not consistent. He says he was struck in his head, he went unconscious, and he woke up in the security tent. He says that no one injected drugs into him.”
“Now, there are a lot of rumors on social media,” said the Mayor in his address. “Let me caution people not to buy into the rumors. But nothing is left off the table in terms of persons who were there, people who may have fainted, or people who were … transported to the hospital … or whether or not anything else was involved. All of those things are being looked at but it is way too preliminary now to draw conclusions but we are not taking anything off the table. This remains, and will be, a very active investigation.”
Mayor Turner on Saturday also confirmed various details of the casualties at the festival, which took place at NRG Park, the massive complex operated by Harris County. In addition to one person whose age was not yet known at the time of the press conference, the ages of the deceased were confirmed to be 14, 16, 21, 21, 23, 23, and 27. An additional twenty-five people were transported to area hospitals. At the time of the press conference, thirteen people remained hospitalized including five people under the age of 18. One of those minors still hospitalized is 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who fell off his father’s shoulders and was trampled during the crowd surge. He remains in a medically induced coma.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Addresses Astroworld Casualties
[Video: KHOU 11]
On Saturday evening, Travis Scott took to Instagram to express his dismay at the tragic events that took place on Friday night. In a string of shorter clips, a visibly distraught Scott noted, “I wanna send out prayers to the ones that was lost last night. We’re actually working right now to identify the families so we can help assist them through this tough time. You know, my fans… my fans, like, my fans really mean the world to me and I always just really wanna leave them with a positive experience. And any time I can make out anything thats going on, I stop the show and help them get the help they need. I could just never imagine the severity of [this] situation. We’ve been working closely with everyone to just try to get to the bottom of this. City of Houston, HPD, fire department, everyone to help us figure this out, so if you have any information, please just contact your local authorities. … I mean, I’m honestly just devastated and I could never imagine anything like this, just… happening… I’m gonna do everything I can to just keep you guys updated and keep you guys informed on what’s going on. Love you all.”
Travis Scott Addresses Deadly Incident At Astroworld
Travis Scott has had issues with crowd injuries at his shows in the past. Back in 2019, a stampede occurred at the entrance to Astroworld Festival, leaving three people injured. At Lollapalooza 2015 in Chicago, the rapper goaded fans to climb over barricades and onto the stage. The crowd complied, prompting the festival to cut his performance short after just three songs. Scott later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct charges for his role in the incident. That same year, Complex ran a review of a performance by Travis Scott and Young Thug at NYC’s Webster Hall entitled “I Tried Not to Die at Travi$ Scott and Young Thug’s Show Last Night.” The article details an atmosphere of chaos at the performance.
In 2017, Scott faced charges of inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, and endangering the welfare of a minor when he similarly urged fans to bypass security and rush the stage during a show at Walmart AMP in Rogers, AR. The performer eventually pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge and was ordered to pay more than $6,000 to two injured attendees.
No criminal charges have yet been brought in the Astroworld investigation, but the second day of the event, originally set to take place on Saturday, was canceled, and the festival grounds have been treated as an active crime scene.
[UPDATE 11/10/21]: While criminal action has not been taken, Scott’s history of encouraging reckless, “raging” behavior at his shows has been a central point in a deluge of civil suits filed by Astroworld attendees in recent days. As of Wednesday morning, Insider reports, nearly 50 individual lawsuits had been filed. The lawsuits name a mix of performers and organizers connected to the festival including Travis Scott and Drake, who were performing onstage during the crowd surge, Live Nation Entertainment, which promoted the show, and Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, which operates Astroworld venue NRG Park.
One such civil suit by San Antonio lawyer Thomas J. Henry, who filed the first Astroworld lawsuit on behalf of 23-year-old attendee Kristian Paredes, now has more than 100 clients who have signed on to participate in the legal action. “I represent now about 150 people,” Henry told CNN’s Jack Tapper on Wednesday afternoon. “That lawsuit will be amended day by day. It’s about 110 people at the moment, but I expect probably by tomorrow lunch it’ll be about 150 and, by the end of the day based on the trends I am seeing and people reaching out to my law firm, that it may get as high as 200 by the end of the day tomorrow.”
This is a developing story.
[Originally published 11/7/21; Updated with new information 11/11/21]