Family and friends gathered on Sunday to mourn the first of eight music fans who died in a crowd at the Astroworld festival of hip-hop star Travis Scott in Houston on Friday night as a criminal investigation into the death continues.
At a funeral in Colleyville Masjid, a suburb of Dallas, 27-year-old AT&T district manager who was born in Karachi, Pakistan and attended high school in Ewlessa, Texas, was remembered by relatives as a cheerful, devout Muslim who loved to spend time with his family.
“He had an amazing soul,” Vasily Mirza Baig, 25, said of his brother in a telephone interview after the funeral. “His smile would light up the room. He had the biggest heart, the biggest heart in the room. “
Basil Baig, who attended the concert with Danish and his fiancée Olivia Swingle, said his brother died trying to protect Swingle when people in the crowd stepped on her and punched her in the face, hands and feet.
“He was there one second and then left the next,” Baig said, noting that he faced Danish and Olivia and split up in the crowd. “My daughter-in-law has fallen; he tried to save my daughter-in-law, but the next second they disappeared. The crowd was just pushing, pushing, hitting, doing terrible things. “
“I couldn’t find them,” he said between sobs. “I’ve looked everywhere. And I couldn’t find them. “
Beig, who lives outside Houston, said Swingle, his brother’s childhood sweetheart, was rushed to the hospital Friday night. On Sunday, he said, she attended the funeral with bruises on her face and body.
“She still has blood in her eyes,” he said.
Houston authorities were investigating what led to the deadly outrage, which also led to injuries to concertgoers, including a 10-year-old boy who was hospitalized in critical condition. The Houston-based medical examiner has yet to release the autopsy results late Sunday night.
Houston police and firefighters do not comment on the causes of death of the victims. At a Saturday news briefing, they said some of the concertgoers had been trampled underfoot. At least one guard received antidote treatment for Narcan’s opioid overdose from a needle in the neck, authorities said. Investigations into the murders and drugs are ongoing, according to the Houston police.
At least one lawsuit was filed this weekend in the Harris County Court of Houston by injured concertgoer Manuel Sousa v. Travis Scott, Live Nation, co-organizer of ScoreMore and Scott’s Cactus Jack Records. The lawsuit alleges that the concert organizers “failed to properly plan and conduct the concert in a safe manner … ignored the extreme risks of harming concertgoers and, in some cases, actively encouraged and encouraged dangerous behavior.”
Baig, accusing Scott of fomenting chaos and not stopping the show, said his family also plans to file a lawsuit.
“He didn’t stop the show because of the loss of life,” he said, noting that his brother died near the end of the event. “He has blood on his hands. He is responsible for this. Everyone associated with Astroworld has a responsibility. ”
When ambulances rushed in in front of 50,000 people during an outdoor event, Scott continued his performance. About 30 minutes after the performance, which was broadcast live on Apple Music, the rapper noticed blue and red flashing lights and said, “There’s an ambulance in the crowd. Hey Hey hey. “A minute later, the music started playing again, and the concert continued for about 40 minutes more.
On Sunday, Scott, who previously tweeted that he was “devastated” by the tragedy, pledged “full support” to investigators. In his Instagram post, he said, “Every time I see what’s going on, I stop the show and help (the fans) get the help they need.” He “coldly never imagines the seriousness of the situation,” he added.
Among the dead was 14-year-old John Hilgert, a freshman at Houston Memorial High School, who released a statement confirming his death. On Sunday, fans tied school-colored green ribbons around the fence in his honor.
“This kid impressed everyone who met him,” Justin Higgs, Hilgert’s former baseball coach, wrote on Facebook. “Has the ability to train him in those seasons of his life.”
Also killed was 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, a student at Heights High School, where she was on the dance team.
“She was an excellent student and loved to dance,” former teacher Linda Gordon said via Facebook messenger. “She has a younger brother and sister and they were very close! She had so much potential. “
Gordon said other former students attended the concert and survived.
“I am still in shock and cry every day,” she said. “… I pray that they will find a solution so that this does not happen again.”
Also among the dead were Rodolfo Angel Peña, 23, an aspiring model and psychology student from Laredo, Texas; Axel Acosta, 21, student at Western Washington University; Franco Patino, 21, student at the University of Dayton; Jacob Yurinek, 20, student at Southern Illinois University; and Madison Dubiski, 23, from Houston.
“By all accounts, Axel was a young man with a bright future. We express our condolences to his family on this very sad day, ”said Melinda Husky, vice president of student and student admissions at Western Washington University.
Some of Dubiski’s relatives attended an impromptu memorial outside the arena on Sunday, where the concert was taking place, but declined to comment. Dubiska’s portrait — long blonde hair draped over a pink coat — was set amid rows of bouquets and notes dropped by those who had rushed past to pay their respects all day.
Among them was 20-year-old Maximiliano Alvarado from Houston, who corresponded with a friend who was hospitalized after an ankle injury at a concert.
“I’m here to support,” Alvarado said.
Leia Contreras, 24, from San Antonio, came to pay her respects to her mother after attending a concert where she said she escaped the crowd’s crush just to see a woman given artificial respiration.
“It could have been my daughter,” 39-year-old Bonnie Contreras said as they stood face to face with photographs of Dubiski, Patino and other victims among dozens of bouquets lying along the fence of the arena.
Times contributor Suzie Esposito from Los Angeles contributed to this report.