Police in Houston expressed concerns about the crowd in a meeting with the rap star prior to the show.
Concerns about the Travis Scott Astroworld festival were relayed in person to the rapper prior to the disastrous show where eight people, including a 14-year-old, were killed.
Scott was visited in his trailer by Houston police chief Troy Finner, who expressed his concerns that the show might get out of hand, The New York Times reports. Crowd control problems were a factor at Scott’s Astroworld festival in 2019, the report says. In 2019, crowds broke through the barricades to gain entry to the show, as they did again this year. Three people were injured then.
Houston Chief of Police Troy Finner at the press conference on Nov. 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Finner, who knows the rapper and his family personally, reportedly told Scott that the “energy” of his fanbase might pose a problem. A Houston police spokesperson would not confirm the specifics of the conversation, but a source close to the police chief told the Times that was part of their talk.
According to reports, almost 50,000 were in attendance when the crowd surged and people became trapped in the midst of too many bodies looking for space. While no official causes of death have been announced, concertgoers described a “chaotic” scene on the first day of the scheduled two-day festival that featured a special appearance by Drake.
“I got there around 3 and saw people already struggling to stand straight,” attendee Neema Djavadzadeh told The New York Times. “There was a lot of mob mentality going on, people willing to do whatever to be in line for merch, food, shows, you name it. A lot of fights broke out throughout the day.”
Candles, flowers and letters are placed at a memorial outside of the canceled Astroworld festival at NRG Park on Nov. 7, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Fans traveled from all over the country to attend the festival, whose ticket prices reached several hundred dollars. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is close to the Scott family, said the festival had “more security than the World Series” which had taken place in the city days before. Per The New York Times, 505 event security staffers, 91 armed private security officers, and 76 uniformed Houston police officers were present at the festival.
Turner said a thorough investigation has to be completed before any blame can be assessed.
The Astroworld Festival is based on a now-closed theme park in Houston, Scott’s hometown. Born Jacques Webster, the 30-year-old rap star, who is expecting a second child with Kylie Jenner, was in the city prior to the concert for a series of charitable events.
On Nov. 4, he hosted a charity baseball game, and through his non-profit foundation Cactus Jack, dedicated a newly built local basketball court and donated a garden to an elementary school near where he grew up.
Travis Scott seen during the 2021 Cactus Jack Foundation fall classic softball game at Minute Maid Park on November 04, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Live Nation, the promoter behind most of the nation’s top music tours and festivals including Made in America, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Rolling Loud, puts on over 100 festivals a year around the world in varying genres, according to their official website.
Outrage has followed the deaths as social media videos show several fans trying to call for help when they realized kids were being hurt. While Scott at one point stops the show, as he saw from the stage that someone has “passed out,” his performance continued for 40 more minutes after calls started coming in about problems at the performance. Scott ultimately ended his set 30 minutes early and has promised to refund attendees.
Mayor Sylvester Turner on Nov. 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
While its unclear what Scott could see or was told about what was going on in the large crowd, Houston’s fire chief says that ultimately the responsibility to stop a show is in the hands of the artist.
“The one person who can really call for and get a tactical pause when something goes wrong is that performer. They have that bully pulpit and they have a responsibility,” Houston’s fire chief, Samuel Peña told the Times. “If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, shut this thing down and turn on the lights until this thing gets corrected’ — and that coming from the person with the mic — I think could have been very helpful.”
A 56-page plan that included contingencies for weather, medical emergencies, active shooters, and a “riot” was prepared and agreed upon, with the awareness that numerous situations could arise.
“Based on the site’s layout and numerous past experiences, the potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns,” the plan read.
Twenty ambulances were on the scene to address medical emergencies, and barriers had been shored up since 2019. ParaDocs was manning the main emergency tent with two ER doctors, nine EMT’s, seven registered nurses, two paramedics, and other medical personnel. Additional medical tents were interspersed throughout the venue, which can hold up to 200,000 people.
But an EMT told the Times that the sheer volume of people seeking medical attention soon overwhelmed the staff there to help. Sami Anjum said that things quickly escalated even before Scott took the stage. Though ParaDocs disputes his account, Anjum said that they ran out of Narcan, the drug used to treat overdoses and that they were not enough staff on hand to treat the swell of people who needed help.
“Many patients were last seen conscious more than 20 minutes prior to receiving any medical attention,” he told the Times.
In an emotional video posted to his social media, Scott described himself as “devastated” said his fans “meant the world to him” and that he wanted them to have a “positive” experience. He also said he was cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation. Jenner, who attended the festival with their 3-year-old daughter Stormi, said the couple was unaware of any deaths until after the show was finally stopped.
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 6, 2021
“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,” Jenner posted to her Instagram story on Sunday. “Travis and I are broken and devastated.”
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