What began as a highly anticipated music festival celebrating Houston's defunct amusement park, quickly turned into an uncontrollable melee as the large crowd began to trample over concertgoers, leaving 10 dead and even more hospitalized. Officials said the deaths and injuries were caused by a crowd surge, which pushed attendees towards the main stage where Scott was performing, causing many to be crushed by the impact.
Since Friday, Travis Scott and Live Nation have released statements sharing their remorse for Friday's events, and plan to work with local authorities to investigate the incident. "I am absolutely devastated by what took place last night," Travis says. "My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival."
Update as of Nov. 8
Multiple lawsuits against Scott and Live Nation are already in the works, with many hoping for retribution for the loss of their loved ones and injuries sustained at the festival.
On Monday, Scott released a statement sharing that he would pay for the funerals of those who passed away at the third-annual festival, held at NRG Park. He will also provide additional aid to those affected by the traumatic event that took place in his hometown this past weekend. Scott teamed up with BetterHelp to offer free online therapy and is working in tandem with National Alliance on Mental Illness, (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA National), and MHA of Greater Houston to help those seeking mental health services following Friday's events.
By virtue of the festival's tragedy, Scott also shared that he will be issuing refunds to everyone who attended the festival and has also canceled his upcoming performance at Day N' Vegas on Saturday, November 13. Scott, who has been accused of inciting chaos at his concerts in the past, may potentially be banned from performing at next year's Coachella Music Festival. On Monday, a new petition surfaced with over 5,000 signatures to prevent Scott from performing at next year’s Coachella Festival following the tragedy.
Update as of Nov. 9
While the number of injured persons continues to rise following the dangerous crowd surge, an ABC13 report from Stefanie Okolie identified 9-year-old Ezra Blount as one of the victims. Blount was on his father's shoulders at the festival and his father attempted to protect him from the deadly stampede, but succumbed to the pressure. Ezra fell and was trampled. The family says that all of his organs are damaged and his brain is swelling.
Houston authorities are coming forward with new details after the Astroworld melee that took place. HPD released a statement, confirming the Chief of Police Troy Finner met with Scott, warning him of public safety concerns ahead of the festival. "I met with Travis Scott and his head of security for a few moments last Friday prior to the main event. I expressed my concerns regarding public safety and that in my 31 years of law enforcement experience, I have never seen a time with more challenges facing citizens of all ages, to include a global pandemic and social tension throughout the nation."
On Tuesday, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena appeared on NBC's Today Show, where he states he believes Scott could have played a role in potentially stopping the deadly crowd surge. "The artist has command of that crowd," Pena told Savannah Guthrie. "In my opinion, and this is my opinion right now because everything is going to be fleshed out throughout this investigation, but certainly, the artist, if he notices something that's going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights and say, 'Hey we're not going to continue until this thing is resolved.'"
Update as of Nov. 10
Questions are continuing to arise days after the deadly chaos that ensued at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Music Festival. Mayor Sylvester Turner is keeping open transparency with Houstonians and all who attended the performance, releasing all permits filed for the event that left eight dead and many more injured.
The permits are shared with the Mayor's Office of Special Events, the Houston Health Department, and the Houston Fire Department. Some permits were filed from Harris County where the event was held, while the agreement was between the producer, Live Nation, and NRG.
According to the release, these permits include street closures surrounding the event; Fire Prevention permits for tents, food preparation, and pyrotechnics; Code Enforcement and Inspector application; a list of approved food & beverage vendors. Occupancy permits are not filed for outdoor events, and safety plans are filed by the event producers with property owners, the release says.
"I continue to pray for the families of those who have died, and on behalf of the City, I send my best wishes to those who are recovering," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "The city is on a global stage as we investigate what happened, and I believe releasing this information in an expedient and transparent manner will show our commitment to a thorough investigation."
A new victim has recently been identified as a 22-year-old Texas A&M senior, Bharti Shahani. She has shown no signs of brain activity since being injured at the festival, according to ABC 13. Shahani is currently in critical condition and on a ventilator. The family was told that Shahani suffered multiple heart attacks, causing her to stop breathing for multiple minutes at a time. As a result of this, 90% of her brain stem experienced swelling.
Although there was no plan in place for the crowd surge, it is now being reported that the festival had a code word for those who died. Should the situation arise, those working were told to refer to the deceased as “smurfs,” according to the event plan. The event plan states that the codeword and security plan was established as a result of negative issues in the past with the festival. One of the issues refers to the 2019 festival when three were injured as a result of a stampede through the entrance gates. However, it is still unclear as to whether or not staff used the code word to radio in the victims during the festival.
The latest detail to emerge from this case is now being reported by NBC News. Sources have confirmed that Travis Scott attended an after-party at Dave & Busters that was hosted by rapper Drake, who also performed at the festival, but was unaware of the deaths and injuries that had been reported during his set.
"Travis didn’t know the severity of the situation when he arrived at the party, as far as timing, this remains consistent with the fact that no one including the police had publicly confirmed the gravity of the events that had taken place," the sources told NBC News. "When someone told Travis at Dave & Buster’s about the tragedy, he immediately left the party.”
Update as of Nov. 11
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to give the city updates on the tragic events that unfolded the night of the Astroworld Music Festival. Finner says they are interviewing a number of victims and reviewing video footage, and that he wants to be led to the facts. He tells Houstonians that the rumors and misinformation will only hurt the process. Finner is still unsure as to whether or not criminal charges will be filed, but that HPD is “not going to leave any stones unturned.”
The cause of death for the victims will not yet be released until the toxicology reports are received. As for right now, Finner is not going to cast blame on any one organization.
Finner clarified some details regarding the festival shut down. He says that HPD officers immediately told event personnel to shut down the performance once they learned that festival-goers were being given CPR in the crowd, but that the ultimate decision was for the production crew and entertainer to make.
During the press conference, Finner also retracted the claim that a security guard on site was pricked with a needle in the neck, now saying that the guard was hit in the head, saying that his claims were no longer consistent with the original story.
In light of these events, Governor Greg Abbott is now launching a concert-safety task force. According to Houston Public Media, the task force will be led by Texas Music Office Director Brendon Anthony and will include music industry representatives, members of the Texas Music Office, the Texas Department of Safety, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and the Texas Association of Fire Fighters, along with a number of other organizations. The governor said that they will hold roundtable discussions with the goal of enhancing security for all future concerts in the state so that they can “ensure the tragedy that occurred at Astroworld never happens again.”
“Live music is a source of joy, entertainment, and community for so many Texans – and the last thing concertgoers should have to worry about is their safety and security,” Abbott said in a statement. “From crowd control strategies to security measures to addressing controlled substances, this task force will develop meaningful solutions that will keep Texans safe while maximizing the joy of live music events.”
Update as of 11/16
The tenth victim of the Astroworld Festival’s lethal crowd surge has been confirmed. 9-year-old Ezra Blount is the latest death, having suffered severe injuries after being trampled during the chaos. As a result, Ezra was taken to Texas Children's Hospital as a John Doe where he went into a medically induced coma with kidney, brain, and liver trauma. For nine days, he was placed on life support until his family shared his passing on Sunday.
Ezra’s father, Treston Blount, recounted to ABC13, taking his son to Travis Scott’s performance at NRG Park on November 5 and the moments leading to the loss of his child.
According to the story, Blount chose to take his son, who was a huge fan of the Houston rapper, to the festival with him. They chose to stay near the back of the concert, already aware of the concerning amount of concertgoers. Eventually, the crowd began to push and panic ensued. At the time, Treston held his son on his shoulders, but when he lost consciousness, Ezra fell and was trampled in the mayhem.
Bernon Blount, grandfather to Ezra and father to Treston Blount, spoke to CNN providing more context to the event. "When my son went to the concert, he had my grandson on his shoulder," stated Bernon. "All the people pushed in and he could not breathe so he ended up passing out because of all the pressure that was being applied to his body. And when he passed out, Ezra fell off his shoulder and fell into the crowd."
Benjamin Crump, the family attorney, expressed his condolences for the Blounts and all those grieving. "The Blount family is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son. This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration," Crump said in a statement. "Ezra's death is absolutely heartbreaking. We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family."
This follows the ninth announced death of the festival, Texas A&M senior Bharti Shahani.
This story is still developing.