Officials were looking for answers after a Houston music festival ended in tragedy Friday night when at least eight people – 14 youngest – were killed as crowds flooded to the stage during a performance by hip-hop star Travis Scott. More people were injured as ambulances rushed in and the show continued.
The disaster – the deadliest at an American concert since the 2017 Las Vegas Country Festival massacres – occurred around 9:30 pm Friday during a performance by headliner, Houston-born rapper Scott, who founded Astroworld in 2018. …
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, speaking at a press conference on Saturday, described “tragedy on many levels” and promised that “this incident is being thoroughly investigated.” Turner, who said the seven identified dead were between the ages of 14 and 27, said there were “many unanswered questions” that could take weeks to investigate. He said that the eighth person, a man, is still unknown.
“It may well be that this tragedy is the result of unpredictable events, unavoidable circumstances,” Judge Lina Hidalgo, the highest-ranking official in Harris County, told the conference. “But until we figure that out, I’ll be asking the tough questions.”
About 50,000 people attended the open-air event at NRG Park, officials estimated as crowds began to “huddle towards the front of the stage,” said Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña. “It caused some panic and caused some injuries.” Peña added that the festival’s capacity is well below the 200,000 people allowed by the fire code.
Witnesses described a scene of confusion and destruction.
“It was like a ripple effect. One man pushed and everyone went, ”said Gerardo Abad Garcia, 25, from Denver, crossing his arms over his chest to show how he“ squeezed ”like a“ sardine in a can. ”
“There was no air flow. It was like a primal instinct: I have to leave, ”said Garcia.
About 30 minutes into the live stream of Scott’s performance on Apple Music, he notices blue and red flashing lights at the festival venue and said, “There’s an ambulance in the crowd. Hey Hey hey. ”
After a moment’s pause, Scott announces, “You know what you came to do,” the music starts up again and the concert continues.
While officials said the set “ended early in the interest of public safety,” Scott’s 25 Astroworld song show lasted for about 40 minutes, ending with the same two songs, “Sicko Mode” and “Goosebumps,” which he ended in Rolling Loud Festival in New York in October.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said police shut down the event as soon as possible.
At “9:30 am, it was then that several people began to descend. Our people came up, immediately went to the producer and told him that people are falling. This show ended at 10:10 pm, ”Finner said.
“You can’t just shut down when you have 50,000 of these juveniles. You may have riots, ”he said.
According to Mayor Turner, there were 528 police officers at the scene, as well as 755 guards provided by the Live Nation concert company.
Officials said 25 people were transported by ambulance to local hospitals; of these, five were under the age of 18. The 10-year-old child was in critical condition. Officials said some of the victims suffered from cardiac arrest, but the autopsies have not yet been completed.
As of Saturday, four survivors have been discharged.
Officials said at least one guard passed out and was treated with narcan, which is used for opioid overdose, after feeling a needle “prick” while reacting to a crowd.
“He was revived and the medical staff noticed a shot that looked like the shot you would get if someone tried to prick you,” Finner said. He added that, in addition to investigating the murder, his department has launched a drug investigation.
Peña, the fire chief, said his staff gave narcan to several people at the concert. Turner said officials were investigating whether several people with needles were attacked, saying the city was “not taking anything off the table.”
Scott, who posted the statement on Twitter, said he was “absolutely devastated by what happened last night. I pray to families and all those affected by what happened at Astroworld. ” He said the police enjoyed his “full support” in the investigation.
Live Nation said in a statement that it was “heartbroken for those who were lost and hurt at Astroworld last night. We will continue to work to provide the maximum possible information and assistance to local authorities in the investigation of the situation. “
Organizers canceled the second day of the festival on Saturday as families gathered at a local hotel to reunite with the survivors. … Groups of teenagers, many of whom still wear holiday bracelets and shirts, huddled in the parking lot.
“I was very close to the front during this. We all supported each other, ”said 16-year-old Christopher, clutching Astroworld bags, standing next to his father, who asked not to be named.
Wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey, he lifted a pair of battered sneakers that he said came when the crowd swept over him.
Denver entrepreneur Jesse Dahl flew in to a concert in Houston with his 9-year-old son Cristiano.
“There were a lot of young children who didn’t know how to behave,” he said. “You have teenagers with no rules or boundaries, it’s just wild all day.”
Earlier, before the show started, there was a high level of energy at the festival. At 14.00 the correspondent of the local TV channel KTRK-TV. witnessed people burst into the gates of the NRG park.
Those attending the concerts described the event, which was naughty day and night. Garcia said he had to resort to security when the crowd got similarly excited and stood up during a performance by rapper Don Toliver in another fenced-in area. He said that the guard lifted him over the fence to safety.
Garcia said he saw people jumping over fences to get to the concert. “There were some people who got out of control:“ I am here to fight, I am here to hit, ”he said, describing the behavior of others. “I don’t think it was security [at fault] as many as people. “
During Scott’s performance, Garcia was standing far from the stage when he felt the crowd constantly rushing forward.
Dahl, a Denver-based entrepreneur, and his son were protected from the crowd because they sat on a dais in the VIP section, where they could see the crowd become uncontrollable, “swaying” and moving forward. “It got really cool,” Dahl said.
Vanessa Johnson, a 20-year-old business class student at Edward Waters University who was close enough to the stage, said, “It wasn’t all that crazy until Travis showed up.”
Johnson was with 21-year-old friend Julian Ponce, and both said that shortly after Scott showed up, they heard people shouting, “Stop the show!”
“Someone passed out,” said Ponce, a psychology student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, who turned to see a circle of people holding back the crowd behind him as they tried to help the man on the ground.
“You kept going forward, backward — you couldn’t move,” Ponce said.
“All the time we were in the crowd, it seemed to me that it was life or death. I’m all bruised. People kicked each other, pushed each other, ”said 26-year-old Rebecca Callabat. As the crowd pushed her, Callabat said she thought, “If I fall, I will die.” She pointed to the bruises under the cropped denim shorts.
Another member of her group, 32-year-old TJ Yalda, who has attended Scott’s shows more than half a dozen times, including Astroworld, and was fond of moshes, said he was not surprised by the rude audience.
“This is normal behavior. There were simply too many children, ”Yalda said. “It’s like playing with fire.” According to Yalda, in one of the moshports, a young man punched him in the face and broke his lip.
Scott’s concerts are known for their energetic and exuberant physical activity in front of the stage. One Scott song, 2018’s “Stargazing”, contains the words “and it doesn’t mosh pit if it’s not injured.”
Scott had previously pleaded guilty to hooliganism charges related to the 2017 Arkansas concert when officials said he encouraged fans to rush to the stage. Scott also pleaded guilty to reckless behavior charges in the 2015 Lollapaloos stampede, in which he also urged fans to push through to the stage, resulting in the trampling of a 15-year-old girl.
Scott did not tell fans to go on stage for the show in Houston, although the video shows some fans screaming to draw the attention of him and staff to the growing crisis in the crowd. At about 40 minutes, Scott pauses the show again. “Wait, wait, wait, we need help, someone has passed out here. … Security, let’s go there. Moments later, the show resumes.
Fan Show Videos singing, “Stop the show! Stop the show! “Between songs.
Music festivals such as Astroworld have become the backbone of the concert industry, bringing in millions for leading artists and promoters. Astroworld is produced by ScoreMore Shows and Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s largest event promotion company.
Next weekend in Las Vegas, promoters Goldenvoice and AEG Presents are planning a three-day hip-hop festival called Day N Vegas, during which Scott will co-headline alongside Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, the creator. Scott is also set to co-headline the April Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Hennessy Fisk reported from Houston, Kalim from Los Angeles and Pierce from Santa Cruz. Craig Marks of Los Angeles and Jenny Jarvey of Atlanta contributed to this report.