The Astroworld festival ended tragically Friday night when a massive crowd began pushing towards the front of the stage during a performance by Travis Scott, causing nine people—ranging from ages 14 to 27—to be killed and dozens to be injured including a 10-year-old.
Roughly 50,000 people attended the two-day music event at NRG Park in Houston, which was created by rapper Scott in 2018. Friday’s casualty appears to be the deadliest crowd control disaster since a 1979 incident in which thousands of people rushed into a show where The Who was performing and 11 people were killed.
In the days following the tragedy, more information has been revealed through video footage and eyewitness statements from festival attendees, which has helped provide a better picture into what happened on that fateful evening. There’s a lot we still don’t know, but here are the latest updates so far.
Ninth Person Dies From Injuries Sustained at Astroworld Festival
A 22-year-old college senior, who was critically injured at the Astroworld Festival, has died, bringing the event’s death toll to nine, the attorney handling her case said Thursday.
Bharti Shahani had been on a ventilator with no brain activity since Friday, attorney James Lassiter said. She was declared dead on Wednesday.
Shahani, a student at Texas A&M University, attended the festival with her sister and cousin, but they lost each other during the crowd surge, ABC 13 reports.
Shahani’s attorney also addressed a widely circulated video that showed a young woman on a gurney being dropped on her head while she was being removed from the crowd at the festival.
“There have been a lot of questions, and I think it’s common knowledge, but there was a video going around that most people have seen of a young lady falling from a gurney as they were trying to get her out there – evacuate her. That was Bharti Shahani,” Lassiter said.
Among the Eight Victims is a 14-year-old Boy and 16-year-old Girl
The youngest victim from the Astroworld tragedy was 14-year-old John Hilgert who was a freshman at Memorial High School, where he played football and baseball, the New York Times reports.
Brianna Rodriguez, 16, was a student at Heights High School in Houston, where she was a drill dancer as part of the band program.
Jacob E. Jurinek, 20, was a junior studying journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Franco Patino, 21, was a senior at the University of Dayton where he studied mechanical engineering technology and human movement biomechanics.
Axel Acosta, 21, was a junior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., where he was majoring in computer science
Rodolfo Peña, 23, was a student at Laredo College in Laredo, Texas.
Madison Dubiski, 23, was a Houston resident who graduated from Cypress Fair High School before later attending the University of Mississippi. She worked at a Houston-based advertising agency.
Danish Baig, 27, worked at AT&T where he was a district manager.
9-year-old Boy Hospitalized with Life Threatening Injuries, Family Files Lawsuit
More than 300 people were treated at a field hospital on site and at least 13 were hospitalized including a 9-year-old boy named Ezra Blount who attended the festival with his dad.
Blount’s grandfather, Bernon, said Ezra was sitting on his father’s shoulders during Scott’s performance. But when things got chaotic, his father passed out. Ezra then fell and was trampled by the crowd before being transported to a local hospital, ABC Houston affiliate KTRK reports. Renowned civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family.
As of Tuesday, Ezra remains “hospitalized in critical condition, suffering from life-threatening injuries, which are likely to be catastrophic,” Crump wrote in the lawsuit.
“This young child and his family will face life-altering trauma from this day forward, a reality that nobody expects when they buy concert tickets,” Crump said in a statement. “Concerts and music festivals such as this are meant to be a safe place for people of all ages to enjoy music in a controlled environment. None of that was true about the Astroworld Festival.”
In addition to Scott, the suit also names promoters Live Nation and ScoreMore as defendants, along with many others involved in the planning of the festival.
Festival Operations Plan Didn’t Include Crowd-Surge Protocols
A 56-page event operations plan included protocols for how to respond to situations of an active shooter, bomb, or terrorist threats at the Houston festival, but it failed to include information on how to handle a crowd surge.
“In any situation where large groups of people are gathering there is the potential for a civil disturbance/riot that can present a grave risk to the safety and security of employees and guests,” the plan said.
“The key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open. Crowd management techniques will be employed to identify potentially dangerous crowd behavior in its early stages in an effort to prevent a civil disturbance/riot.”
The operations plan also stated that if crowds displayed threatening or destructive behavior during the event, security and a supervisor should be notified.
Experts told The Hollywood Reporter that crowd surge deaths typically occur because people are packed so tightly that they are unable to get oxygen, not necessarily because they are being trampled.
Houston Fire Chief Says Scott Should Have Stopped Show
Houston’s fire chief Samuel Peña said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show that Scott should have stopped his performance.
“The artist has command of that crowd,” Peña said. “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.”
Peña added that evidence shows festival attendees attempting to approach some of Scott’s private security to alert them that something was wrong.
However, during that same interview, Peña also said that he “wasn’t prepared to say that [Scott] was fully aware of what was going on.”
The day after the incident, Scott’s girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, wrote on Instagram that she and Scott were not aware of the issues in the crowd until after the show, which ended about 10:10 p.m., according to police. Reports also show that officials called the event a mass casualty at 9:38 p.m., roughly 40 minutes before the show concluded.
“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 wrote early Sunday on Instagram.
Sources close to Astroworld also defended Scott.
“It was impossible for Travis to tell of the severity of what was happening while on stage and once he was notified, he stopped the show,” they told NBC News. “There’s been a lot of misconceptions that he continued to play after finding out people were seriously injured and that’s entirely false.”
The sources also mentioned earlier statements from Houston’s police chief, Troy Finner, who said that abruptly stopping the show could’ve made the situation worse.
“You cannot just close when you got 50,000 and over 50,000 individuals,” Finner previously said. “We have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that’s that young.”
Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner Speak Out About Astroworld Tragedy
Kardashian, who is Kylie Jenner’s half-sister, took to Twitter to address the Astroworld Festival incident.
“Absolutely heartbroken for the lives who were lost and anyone who was hurt at Astroworld. Just like all of you, our family is in shock by the tragedy,” she wrote on Monday evening.
She continued in a follow-up tweet, “We are keeping all of the victims, families and loved ones impacted in our prayers for healing – as well as Travis who we know cares so much about his fans and is truly devastated.”
Absolutely heartbroken for the lives who were lost and anyone who was hurt at Astroworld. Just like all of you, our family is in shock by the tragedy.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 9, 2021
Kendall Jenner, another one of Kylie’s sister, also released a statement on Monday night.
“I’m still at a loss for words over the news from Astroworld,” she wrote on her Instagram story. “I’m truly broken for the families that have lost loved ones and my prayers go out to everyone involved.”
She added, “Sending everyone who has been affected all of my love and wishing them strength during this incredibly devastating and sensitive time.”
Jenner’s statement arrives shortly after she received backlash for sharing a photo of herself at the event. One Instagram user wrote: “Where 8 people were just killed? Yeah, no thanks.” The images have since been deleted.
Another Kardashian sister, Khloé, was also called out for being “tone deaf” after she posted sexy images of herself on Instagram on Monday. One Instagram user commented: “People are watching you guys. I think we can pause this for a week or so after people died at TS [Travis Scott] concert just a thought,” a third wrote.
Those images were still up on Khloé’s page as of Tuesday and it didn’t appear that she had released a statement about the Astroworld tragedy. However, she reposted an Instagram post of Kim’s statement on her Instagram story.
Police Chief Walks Backs on Earlier Report That Security Officer May Have Been Drugged
Since the festival, rumors have been circulating on social media that an individual in the crowd was injecting others with drugs at the festival. Houston’s police chief Troy Finner debunked that allegation and walked back on his previous reports that a security officer felt a prick in their neck before falling unconscious.
Finner told reporters at a Wednesday news conference that the man’s story was “not consistent” with non-consensual drug injection.
“He said he was struck in his head,” Finner said. “He woke up in a security tent. He says that no one injected drugs in him.”
Travis Scott Will Refund Astroworld Attendees, Pay for Victim’s Funeral Costs
The morning after the Astroworld tragedy, Scott issued a statement on Twitter saying, “I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.”
He continues, “Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life,” Scott continued. “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need. Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department and NRG Park for their immediate response and support. Love You All.”
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 6, 2021
Some online critics have called the video apology that Scott posted both orchestrated and disingenuous.
The Grammy nominated rapper said he will refund all Astroworld attendees, as well as cover the funeral costs for the families of the eight people killed at Astroworld. Scott also plans to partner with the mental health organization BetterHelp to provide free, one-on-one online therapy to those affected by the calamity, The Wrap reports. Additionally, he will work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America (MHA) and its Houston chapter to direct all those in need to proper mental health services. Those impacted can sign up for sessions with a therapist via Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation.
Scott also canceled his plans to perform at this weekend’s Day N Vegas Festival, where he was scheduled to have a headlining set on Saturday, Nov. 13, Variety reports. Sources close to Scott described him as being “too distraught to play.” He’s since been replaced by Post Malone.
Houston Police Chief Said Warned Scott of Crowd Concerns Prior to Show
Police Chief Troy Finner, who knows Scott personally, said that he visited Scott at his trailer before his performance to share his concerns about the energy of the crowd, according to a person with knowledge of the chief’s account, the New York Times reports. A video that has been circulating on social media, which shows a crowd of people barging into the venue about 2 p.m., reveals how rowdy the attendees were well before Scott’s performance about 9 p.m.
For months leading up to Astroworld, Houston officials said they took extra precautions to prepare for the event including adding dozens more officers from the Houston Police Department and more private security hired by Live Nation, the concert organizer, the Times reports.
Officials are still trying to piece together the timeline of events that led to the tragic incident to determine the movement of the crowd, as well as the actions of the private security personnel and medical staff on duty, and city police officers and emergency medical responders.
Travis Scott, Drake, Live Nation and ScoreMore Named in Lawsuits
As of Monday afternoon, nearly 20 lawsuits have been filed in Harris County District Court in the aftermath of the tragedy. Scott has been personally named in 17 of the lawsuits, Buzzfeed reports.
Manuel Souza, who said he was injured at the event, was the first to file a lawsuit on Saturday in Harris District Court. He sued Scott, ScoreMore, and Live Nation, in which he said the festival organizers ignored potential warning signs that compromised the safety of attendees at the event before performances even began. Steve Kherkher, Souza’s attorney, claimed that the people in charge of the event were aware of “the extreme risk of harm to concertgoers that was escalating by the moment” and still “made the conscious decision to let the show go on,” the lawsuit says. The complaint, which accuses the festival organizers of negligence, is seeking at least $1 million in damages.
Ben Crump announced on Monday that he will be representing further victims in the aftermath of the Astroworld Festival.
Kristian Paredes’ legal complaint different also names rap superstar Drake who “came on stage alongside Travis Scott and helped incite the crowd” on Friday night, according to the complaint. The suit ultimately blames the artists for the tragic incident, saying “they either were aware, or should’ve been aware, of the reaction the crowd would have and did have.”
Drake has not commented on the lawsuit, but he took to Instagram to release a statement about the tragedy.
“I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy. I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself,” Drake wrote in an Instagram post.
“My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering. I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can. May God be with you all,” he added.
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