Eight people were killed and hundreds more were injured at Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert, as investigators tried to figure out why and how a large gathering turned deadly.
Officials reported on Saturday that a stampede of fans rushing toward the stage at rap singer Travis Scott’s Astroworld music event in Houston killed at least eight people and wounded dozens more as fear spread through the audience of mostly teenage concertgoers.
The concert has been part of the Astroworld music festival, which began on Friday and was supposed to be a two-day event. According to the Houston Fire Department, around 50,000 people had gathered there on Friday night when the incidents happened.
It appeared to have been one of the deadliest crowd-control tragedies at a concert in the United States in so many years, evoking the 1979 crush outside the doors of a Who performance in Cincinnati, which killed 11 people and stunned the nation.
THE CAUSE OF THE SURGE IS STILL BEING INVESTIGATED
At this point, it was still not clear if the turmoil was caused by a single occurrence or by a combination of causes at the sold-out venue. Witnesses, on the other hand, recounted a chaotic situation before and during the event, with many people in the back attempting to push to the front of the stage, causing the first row to get crowded.
Neema Djavadzadeh, a concertgoer, described the event as “hectic from the start,” with several spectators complaining that there was no place to walk because of the crowd’s density.
Following unconfirmed allegations that someone in the crowd “was injecting other individuals with drugs,” City Police Chief Troy Finner stated his agency has initiated a criminal investigation by homicide and narcotics detectives.
The incident occurred at NRG Park around 9:30 p.m. on Friday during the main performance by Scott, a Grammy-nominated musician and producer, following an increase of disorderly behaviour throughout the day, according to police and audience members.
Officials informed reporters outside the venue that as fans in the sold-out audience of around 50,000 moved closer to the stage, people began to pass out, some of the fans seemed to be suffering from cardiac arrest or had other medical issues. The chaos was shortly declared a “mass casualty incident.”
Larry Satterwhite, Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief, who was in the front row when the incident occurred, said it appeared to happen all at once in a matter of minutes.
Satterwhite said he talked with promoters right away and they decided to call the concert off. The event was called off about 10:10 p.m., according to officials.
According to Finner, there were reports that someone was injecting drugs into other persons, and this is one of the “narratives” being probed by investigators.
“We’re going to get down to the bottom of it,” Finner added, though it was unclear if investigators thought such an incident had a part in the crowd surge.
Autopsies were pending to determine the causes of death, although police claimed several of the bodies had been trampled.
Late Saturday, Scott posted a 90-second video on social media, stating that he could never have imagined the severity of the incident while performing on stage.
According to City Fire Chief Samuel Pea, the facility looked to have plenty of evacuation routes for fans, none of which were blocked.
Twenty-five individuals were transported to hospitals by ambulance just after crush began, several of them in cardiac arrest, Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters. Following the release of four patients, 13 patients remained hospitalized on Saturday, five of them were under the age of 18. A total of eight persons were killed. Turner said the victims’ ages varied from 14 to 27, but one victim’s age had not been immediately known.
GUARD SUSPECTED TO HAVE BEEN INJECTED BY SOMEBODY IN CROWD
At least one person was allegedly injected by a guy in the audience, according to reports. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner disclosed the alarming allegations at a press conference on Saturday.
“Someone in the crowd went crazy and starting injecting people with some form of drug,” a source close to Astroworld told TMZ on Saturday. According to the Hollywood Reporter, which cited two sources, police were looking into a drug-spiking occurrence in an area of the festival where the chaos occurred.
According to the sources, it looked to be aimed at those who were unaware of the situation and that the crowd surge may have come from fear as attendees bolted for safety. The police’s initial response on these accusations was that they had received the allegations and that “we’re investigating” them.
Chief Finner stated that one of the narratives was that somebody was injecting drugs into other individuals.
Medical staff said they have a report of a security officer who was out the night of the incident and was treated.
A prick in the neck was felt by the security officer as he reached over to restrain or grab a person. He subsequently passed out and was revived after receiving Narcan treatment. The medical team did find a puncture that was similar to what you’d get if someone tried to inject you.
According to HPD spokesperson Jodi Silva, the department is aware of the accusations, however it is an “ongoing investigation at this point, and all factors and potential causes are being examined.”
It is uncertain what substance was injected into the security guard at this time, and there have been no further instances of persons being injected with substances at the said concert.
IT FELT LIKE A RIOT
According to 19-year-old festival-goer Hamad Al Barrak, the crowd became increasingly disorderly when musicians hit the stage after crowding the entry gates and merchandise stalls earlier in the day.
“There were just too many people,” Al Barrak said of the chaos he experienced while trying to purchase festival gear. “We were all pressed together. You felt as though you couldn’t take a breath.”
Albert Merza, 43, said he witnessed “a lot of drinking and outrageous behavior” while attending the concert with a group of eight people from Detroit.
“It seemed like a riot,” he recalled, adding that around half of the audience looked to be under the age of 21. He went on to say that people were throwing things out and that things were flying everywhere.
Even before stampede, Nick Johnson, 17, says he noticed a gradual increase in unruly behavior. He explained that it had been going on for about two hours and was just getting worse and worse.
According to Finner, the police chief, an incident earlier in the day in which fans began “rushing” the festival gates was swiftly brought under control, and it looked unrelated to the catastrophic stampede.
On Friday, 528 police officers and 755 private security personnel were assigned to the festival, according to Finner.
According to Finner, 25 people have been arrested during the day, one each for marijuana possession and public drunkenness, and the rest for trespassing. According to Peña, 300 people have been treated for a variety of injuries and illnesses at an on-site medical clinic, including several suspected drug overdoses.
According to Peña, the arena could hold up to 200,000 people, but because to ticket sales, organizers reduced the number to 50,000.
COULD PEOPLE ESCAPE?
When things started to go wrong, several concertgoers couldn’t get out of the tight crowd, according to others in the audience.
Several concertgoers told the Associated Press that barricades near the stage, which were designed to divide different types of ticket holders, prevented them from exiting. A closet-like area was formed by one of the stage barricades, according to Billy Nasser, who was present at the event.
Nasser stated that there were people thrown inside a closet-like zone and the door was shut. According to Joshua Robinson to the Associated Press, the barricades created an area that was “simply much too small and compact” for all of the individuals present.
The facility allegedly passed inspectors’ standards for secure entrance and exit, according to authorities. Peña stated that under city fire codes, the arena could have accommodated 200,000 people. For the performance, authorities capped the number at 50,000.
Travis Scott, who was born in Houston, said he was “absolutely devastated” and committed to help the authorities with their investigation.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families and all those affected,” Scott said on Twitter.
Peña described how the festival’s private medical staff were rapidly overwhelmed by the mass of people on a two-day event that was supposed to conclude on Saturday but was canceled following Friday night’s tragedy.
Fans and staff sought to draw attention to injured concertgoers in videos shared to social media. In one video, fans are seen attempting to alert camera operators to the dangerous scenario. Another video shows individuals waving and yelling “Stop the show!” as they approached the stage.
Security and safety standards are expected to be the focus of the investigation. Another Houston performance was canceled two weeks ago when crowds were shoved inside a Playboi Carti show at the same NRG Park complex.
Jennifer Ortega, 22, came to the event at 1 p.m. on Friday. At that moment, the said access was orderly. However, by 4 p.m. people were throwing water bottles towards the smaller of the festival’s two stages, which “became very wild.” She watched three persons leave the scene with bleeding noses and missing teeth, she claimed.
THE SIGNS OF DANGER WERE NOT IMMEDIATELY VISIBLE
Concertgoers shared videos of a chaotic situation near the stage on social media, with some individuals screaming for assistance and others clueless of any serious issues.
Mr. Scott was seen onstage in one video, which was put on YouTube but has since been deleted, urging the crowd, “I want to see some rages.” Who wants to rage?” “There’s an ambulance in the crowd, whoa, whoa, whoa,” he could be heard shouting moments later, seemingly trying to quiet the uproar.
Scott came to a halt many times throughout his 75-minute performance when he noticed fans in distress and urged security to protect their safety, according to video shared online. Several times, emergency vehicles with flashing lights and sirens sliced through the gathering.
There was no music for a few seconds. “If everybody’s good,” Mr. Scott continued, “put a middle finger up in the sky.” As the music started, Mr. Scott exhorted the audience to “shake the ground.”
According to video of Scott’s set, which featured a special appearance by Canadian rapper Drake, the event went on for another 30 minutes when Scott shouted, “We need somebody to help. Somebody passed out right here.” “Security, somebody, hurry up and get in here.”
“I love y’all,” Mr. Scott shouted as he waved to the fans and jogged offstage at the end of the show, “Make it home safe. Good night! ”
In another video, officers were seen performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a number of individuals as music played in the background.
WAS SECURITY ADEQUATE?
It is too early to judge if the security operations was sufficient or what caused the deaths, according to the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner.
A thorough security strategy was described by the mayor, who has known Mr. Scott’s family for years.
“We had more security over there than during the World Series games,” he claimed, pointing out that the event was held on county land with protection organized by the city of Houston.
Officials reported during a press conference that there were 505 event security staff members, 91 armed private security officers, and 76 Houston Police Department officers at the said festival.
The authorities chose not to abruptly end the event.
The event was called off 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, at 10:10 p.m., by Live Nation, the concert organizer. Nearly 40 minutes after the “mass casualty catastrophe” began, according to local officials.
Officials were concerned that halting the event too soon might exacerbate the incident, according to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.
“You can’t just close when you’ve got 50,000 or more people,” he remarked. “When you have a bunch that young, you have to worry about rioting, riots.”
ORGANIZERS TO COOPERATE WITH POLICE
Astroworld Fest, an event organized by Live Nation Entertainment (LYV.N), stated on Twitter, “We are focused on supporting local officials in whatever way we can.”
TRAVIS SCOTT BEGS FOR PRAYERS
Travis Scott has broken his silence to pay respect to the eight fans who were killed at his performance on Friday night, while defending his decision to continue performing despite the trauma, claiming he “could never imagine the severity of the situation.”
Scott was gripped with emotion in footage released on Instagram on Saturday as he issued a statement explaining his behavior during the horrific first night of the Astroworld Festival.
“My fans mean the world to me, and I always wanna leave them with a positive experience,” he explained, adding that if anytime he notices something going on, he would halt the concert and assist them get the care they need.
Meanwhile, Kylie Jenner has stated that she was unaware that individuals had died at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival until after the concert.
The 24-year-old Keeping Up With The Kardashians star expressed her “thoughts and prayers” to all those who died in the NRG Park tragedy in Houston on Friday.