(Trends Wide) — Before rapper Travis Scott took the stage Friday night at his sold-out Astroworld Festival, the Houston police chief had a “short and respectful” meeting with him to discuss safety concerns.
“I met with Travis Scott and his chief of security for a few moments last Friday before the main event,” said the chief. Troy Finner in a written statement released Monday.
“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,” including a pandemic and social tension across the country, Finner said.
“I asked Travis Scott and his team to work with the police department on all events over the weekend and to take into account his team’s social media posts at any unscheduled events.”
The chief’s statement did not mention any response. The meeting was first reported by The New York Times. Trends Wide has reached out to Scott’s representatives for comment.
The concert turned into a catastrophe after a human avalanche among 50,000 fans left eight people dead.
A civil lawsuit has already been filed against Scott, who organized the festival, along with promoter Scoremore and entertainment company Live Nation.
And authorities are investigating whether criminal charges will be filed.
That investigation “will likely take weeks, if not longer,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.
He said that “it will be seen from many different angles … as it should be.”
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told Trends Wide’s Jake Tapper that organizers had contracted with a private company to provide the medical services component, but that the fire department had previously placed units based on their experience. with other major events, including the 2019 Astroworld Festival, in which three people were trampled and hospitalized.
Fire units responded, he said, as soon as communications from event personnel indicated they were overwhelmed.
What the criminal investigation might include
The criminal liability standard will likely be higher than the civil liability standard, Trends Wide legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers said.
It’s unclear how much the police chief’s meeting with Scott on security issues could influence the criminal investigation, Rodgers said.
“One of the keys is whether what happened was reasonably foreseeable,” he said. “If they inform you about a risk in advance, that makes it much more predictable.”
However, “it’s probably not (Scott’s) job to keep an eye on that sort of thing,” Rodgers said. “If he saw something happening, he had a duty to stop the show.”
Scott stopped the show at least three times to ask for help for concert goers, audience members Nick Johnson and Angel Rodriguez told Trends Wide.
Determining what Scott knew about the situation in the crowd, and whether he acted appropriately, will be an important part of the investigation, Rodgers said.
How People Can Suffocate in Outdoor Crowds
Witnesses described heartbreaking scenes of people being crushed or trampled on as music drowned out calls for help.
The causes of death for the eight people who died have not been disclosed.
But emergency physician Dr. Esther Choo said it is possible for people to suffocate even at an outdoor event.
“As crowds crowd closer and closer together, it doesn’t take much for what’s happening in one place to spread through the crowd,” said Choo.
And as more people become crowded, “compression forces actually prevent them from breathing.”
“It doesn’t really matter if you’re inside or outside. What matters is that bodies can get crowded very quickly,” Choo said. “If the chest wall doesn’t have room to expand, it can’t get air in.”
As of Monday morning, six people remained hospitalized, including five in intensive care, Peña told Trends Wide.
“The crowd, for whatever reason, began to push and rush to the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed,” the fire marshal said. “They couldn’t escape from that situation.”
This year’s festival saw a substantial increase in security, the mayor said, including more than 500 Houston police officers and more than 700 private security personnel.
A detailed operations plan for the music festival did not include a specific contingency for a human avalanche incident.
In a 56-page document obtained by Trends Wide, the concert organizers addressed general concerns about the event. Among the scenarios addressed in the plan are incidents involving an active shooter, extreme weather, and a possible riot or civil unrest.
Live Nation staff met with authorities and said in a statement that they had been provided with closed-circuit video, adding that all loading work at the site has been stopped to allow investigators to “walk through and document the grounds. “, and that refunds will be given to all those who purchased tickets.
The entertainment company said staff is “working to support attendees, victims’ families and staff” by providing mental health counseling and helping with hospital costs.
Lawsuits filed against organizers and promoters
A concert goer has filed a lawsuit against Scott, Live Nation and concert promoter Scoremore, seeking more than $ 1 million for injuries sustained at the show.
Manuel Souza “suffered serious bodily injury when the uncontrolled crowd at the concert threw him to the ground and stomped on him,” says the lawsuit, which Trends Wide obtained from Souza’s law firm, Kherkher Garcia.
“The defendants failed to properly plan and carry out the concert in a safe manner. Instead, they consciously ignored the extreme risks of harm to concert-goers and, in some cases, actively encouraged and encouraged dangerous behavior,” the lawsuit says.
At least 17 other lawsuits have been filed, according to court documents obtained by Trends Wide.
One alleges that when the crowd took the stage, many people asked for help from security guards hired by Live Nation, but were ignored.
In a video posted to Instagram Saturday night, Scott said, “Honestly, I’m devastated.”
“In fact, we are working at this time to identify the families and be able to help them in this difficult time,” said the rapper.
Live Nation was named the defendant in all but one lawsuit, while Scott was named in the majority. Other individuals and organizations involved in the concert, including NRG Stadium and rapper Drake, were named in at least one of the lawsuits.
The only lawsuit naming Drake accuses him of helping incite the crowd as the “surprise guest” alongside Scott, and that they both stood on stage while “the crowd got out of control,” the lawsuit says. Trends Wide has reached out to representatives for Drake for comment.
Trends Wide has also reached out to Scott, Live Nation and others named in the lawsuits, but has received no response.
NRG stadium officials told Trends Wide in a statement that they cannot comment at this time.
Scott will pay for funerals and support therapy
On Monday, Scott’s representative announced that the rapper will cover all funeral costs for those who died at the festival.
“Additionally, Travis has partnered with BetterHelp to provide free personalized online therapy, and is working closely with NAMI, MHA National and MHA of Greater Houston (Mental Health America) to direct all in need of health services.” the representative said in a statement.
“Travis is in active discussions with the city of Houston, law enforcement and local first responders to connect in a respectful and appropriate way with the individuals and families of those involved.”
Free one-on-one sessions with a licensed therapist are available to those who sign up via the link: www.betterhelp.com/cactusjackfoundation, according to the release.
The 8 victims have been identified
Among those killed at the festival are two high school students and a man who tried to save his fiancée.
The eight people were identified as 14-year-old John Hilgert; Brianna Rodríguez, 16 years old; Jacob Jurinek, 20 years old; Axel Acosta Ávila, 21 years old; Franco Patiño, 21 years old; Madison Dubiski, 23; Rodolfo Peña, 23 years old; and Danish Baig, 27.
Rapper Roddy Ricch, one of the festival’s artists, announced that he will donate his share of the concert proceeds to the families of the victims.
“Please let the families of those we lost yesterday contact @shawnholiday. I will donate my net compensation to the families from this incident,” Ricch posted on Instagram, sharing the hashtag “Pray4Houston.”
Organizers of the Astroworld Festival canceled Saturday’s show after the tragedy, saying in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the Astroworld Festival family tonight, especially those we lost and their loved ones. We are focused on supporting local officials. as we can “.
Trends Wide’s Joe Sutton, Kay Jones, Jennifer Henderson, Keith Allen, Melissa Alonso, Gregory Lemos, Amanda Jackson, Chloe Melas, Claudia Dominguez, and Vanessa Price contributed to this report.