Monday, December 6, 2021

Crush at Houston concert begins criminal investigation that kills 8

At least eight people were killed and dozens more injured after a crush of fans pushed them toward the stage during rap star Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert in Houston, officials said on Saturday.

City Police Chief Troy Finner said his department had launched a criminal investigation by murder and narcotics detectives after unconfirmed reports that someone in the audience was “injecting drugs to other people.”

Disaster broke out at NRG Park around 9:30 p.m. Friday during a headline performance by Scott, a Grammy-nominated singer and producer, described by police and members of the crowd as an escalation of unruly behavior.

Officials told reporters outside the venue that some of the sold out audience, numbering around 50,000, headed for the stage, people fainting, some had cardiac arrest or other medical problems. Minutes later the chaos was declared a “mass casualty incident”.

“It all happened at once. It looked like it happened in just a few minutes,” said Larry Satterwaite, acting assistant chief of the Houston Police.

Satterwhite said that he immediately met with the promoters and they agreed to stop the show. Officials said the concert ended at 10:10 pm

Finer said police were following several lines of investigation, including “some individuals injecting drugs to other people.”

One report involved a security officer “who felt a prick in his neck” as he was trying to stop or hold someone and then fainted, only to be revived with a dose of the opioid antidote Narcan, Finer said, citing an account from the medical staff treating the officer.

Finer said the medical staff also noticed what appeared to be a needle mark on the officer’s neck.

It was unclear whether officials suspected such an episode played a role in the crowding, but Finer said, “We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

City Fire Chief Samuel Pea said it appeared the venue had enough exit routes for fans and no one was obstructed.

Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters that 25 people were taken to hospitals by ambulance after the crush began, some of them in cardiac arrest, 13 of whom were still hospitalized on Saturday – five under the age of 18. After the discharge of four patients. Eight people died. Turner said most were between 14-27, although the age of one victim was not immediately known.

‘Feels like a riot’

According to 19-year-old festival goer Hamad Al Barak, crowds went uncontrollably as the performers took to the stage, gathering at entrances and trading booths early in the day.

“There were a lot of people,” said Al Barak, who described the chaos as he tried to buy festival gear. “We were all buried together. You felt like you couldn’t breathe.”

Albert Merza, 43, part of a group of eight people from Detroit who attended the festivities, described seeing “too much drinking and crazy behavior.”

“It felt like a riot,” he said, adding that almost half the crowd seemed to be under the age of 21. “There were people throwing stuff, things flying everywhere.”

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Nick Johnson, 17, said he saw a steady increase in disruptive behavior before the stampede.

“This went on for over two hours, and it just got worse,” he said.

Police Chief Finer said an incident earlier in the day in which fans were rushing to the gates of the festival was brought under control relatively quickly, it was not related to the deadly stampede later.

Finer said police were assigned 528 officers for the festival along with 755 private security personnel on Friday. Pea said that theoretically the venue could have been up to 200,000, but organizers limited the crowd to 50,000, and that number seemed accurate based on ticket sales.

The Houston-born Scott said he was “absolutely devastated” and vowed to “support the police during the investigation.”

“My prayers are with the families and everyone affected,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “Love you all.”

Pea described how a crush of fans quickly overwhelmed private medical personnel for the festival, a two-day affair that was supposed to end on Saturday but was canceled after Friday night’s tragedy.

Videos posted on social media showed a chaotic scene as fans and staff tried to draw attention to the injured concerts. One video shows fans trying to make camera operators aware of the dangerous situation. A separate video shows people waving to the stage and chanting “Stop the show!” Shown shouting slogans.

The investigation is likely to focus on safety and security protocols. Two weeks ago, another Houston concert was canceled as fans pushed into the Playboy Carty show to be held at the same NRG Park complex.

22-year-old Jennifer Ortega, who arrived at Friday’s event at around 1 p.m., said access was organized at the time. But by 4 p.m. on the smaller of the two stages of the festival, the crowd “became quite careless,” with people throwing water bottles. She said she saw about three people walking out of the area with bloody noses and missing teeth.

Organizers said they were cooperating with the police.

“We are focused on supporting local authorities however we can,” Astroworld Fest, an event organized by Live Nation Entertainment, said on Twitter.

fans in trouble

Scott stopped several times during his 75-minute performance when he saw fans in distress near the stage and asked to ensure safety, video posted online showed. Emergency vehicles, flashing lights and alarms, bite the audience several times.

“We need someone to help us. Someone died here,” Scott said according to the video from his set. “Safety, someone, jump in here quickly.”

Another video clip showed police performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on several people while music was playing in the background.


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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