Astroworld Investigation Live Updates: Concertgoer Says Security Was 'Standing There Watching' During Crowd Surge

Live Updates

Rapper Travis Scott is facing legal action after eight people died during his Astroworld Festival in Houston last week.

Lawsuits have been filed against Scott and Live Nation alleging "negligence" for inciting a riot and violence and failing to establish proper safety measures and medical services at the concert. Some suits are seeking $1 million in damages.

During the performances, concertgoers rushed the stage, pushing fans against each other and the stage barriers. All eight victims have been identified, with ages ranging from 14 to 27 years old. Three people remain hospitalized, including a 9-year-ols boy in a medically induced coma. Several GoFundMe pages were set up to support the victims and their families.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said Scott "absolutely" should have stopped his show because "the artist has command of that crowd."

The FBI has joined Harris County and the City of Houston in the criminal investigation into the incident as people call for an independent investigation to avoid a conflict of interest with Houston Police.

Scott posted a statement on Twitter Saturday saying he was "absolutely devastated" by the tragedy and will cooperate with Houston Police to "heal and support the families in need."

"My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival," Scott said.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Teen recounts how he escaped the festival crowd surge

A 16-year-old who attended the Astroworld Festival in Houston recounts his escape from the crowd surge.

Dylan Nelson told News Nation it got "really crowded" as soon as Travis Scott came on stage, so his group moved toward the back and followed others who jumped over barriers to escape the crowd surge.

He added that a security guard was "just standing there watching" while people were screaming for help and "freaking out."

"Honestly, from what I saw, security wasn't doing their job. Security was kind of just watching," Nelson said. "I mean, they were helping here and there. But just regular people were just helping each other out and just getting them over."

Nelson then felt like he "needed to start doing something" to help the people trapped in the crowd.

"I was able to help a little bit," he said. "But there are so many people you're just picking them up, pulling them over, picking them up, pulling over. And it's pretty hard because there's people smashing backwards too."

Nelson added that there were "too many people in the crowd" and the layout made it difficult to exit to space.

"The only way to get out was like to the left or to the right," he said. "And with the amount of people, you just weren't gonna get out unless you got pulled over the gates."

Fire union chief notes communication issues with medics at festival

The Houston firefighter union said there was insufficient communication with medics at the Astroworld Festival.

Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Patrick M. "Marty" Lancton told CNN city fire officials on standby near the venue asked concert organizers for a radio to communicate with ParaDocs, the private emergency medical providers, but were only given cellphones.

Lancton said cellphones are not reliable during emergencies due to potential signal weaknesses during large gatherings.

"Seconds matter, minutes matter in emergencies," Lancton said.

Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña also told CNN the fire department was in radio communication with the police department and in phone communication with ParaDocs, but was not in direct communication with concert organizers during the event.

"There was a lot of communication, a lot of chatter and as you can expect in an incident that gets complex, there's a lot of radio communication," Peña said. "Was it challenging? It was at times, but we were able to overcome and deploy resources efficiently when the need arose."

Lawyer Ben Crump toured NRG Park venue

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and his team surveyed NRG Park on Tuesday after announcing they will file a lawsuit on behalf of a critically injured 9-year-old victim.

Recreation experts collected evidence and teams toured the entrance, two stages, backstage and medical areas.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said "no stone will be left unturned" during the investigation into the tragic incident. Turner said he is focused on accountability.

"Everyone is entitled to answers," he said. "As you all know, I've dealt with many crises since I've been mayor. This is the only one where it's been difficult to sleep at night and in large part is because we're dealing with kids," Turner said.

GoFundMe sets up hub for Astroworld Festival victims

GoFundMe has set up a hub for donations to Astroworld Festival victims and their families.

As of publication, four fundraisers have been set up on the page, including one to cover the funeral costs of 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez and medical bills for 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who is in a medically induced coma.

Along with the link to GoFundMe's Astroworld fundraiser page, people can check the organization's Twitter account about other families who may set up pages in the future.

FULL STORY: How to Help Astroworld Victims, Families

Here is a thread of verified fundraisers for those affected by the Astroworld Festival tragedy.

Our Trust & Safety Team is monitoring our platform closely. We will update this list as more official fundraisers are created to support victims and their families:

— GoFundMe (@gofundme) November 7, 2021

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump to represent 9-year-old in a coma

Prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and his co-counsels have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the 9-year-old boy who was trampled at the Astroworld Festival and is now in a medically induced coma.

The lawsuit accuses Scoremore Management, Live Nation Entertainment, Travis Scott, Catcus Jack Records and others of negligence for failure to control crowds, failure to provide proper medical attention, hiring, training, supervision and retention.

The suit alleges the defendants failed to stop Scott's performance until 40 minutes after city officials said the "mass casualty event" had begun.

"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," Crump said in a statement. "None of that was true about the Astroworld Festival. This little boy is currently fighting for his life, and his parents will never know the same child they entered Astroworld with."

The firm says it plans to "hold everyone who had a hand in this festival accountable for the horrifying and traumatic injuries that this helpless child sustained."

NEWS ALERT: @AttorneyCrump and co-counsels Alex & Bob Hilliard have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the father of E.B., a 9-year-old child who was trampled and catastrophically injured at the Astroworld Festival. pic.twitter.com/KA5lyT3rpD

— Ben Crump Law, PLLC (@BenCrumpLaw) November 9, 2021

Man complained about crowd management at NRG weeks before Astroworld Festival

A father complained about crowd control to NRG Park at a different concert two weeks before the Astroworld Festival.

Chris May and his 16-year-old son traveled to Houston to attend the Playboi Carti on October 23. Before they left for the show, May's son showed him videos of chaos erupting as fans tried to get inside.

When they arrived at the venue, fans were still waiting to get in two hours after the concert was set to begin.

"There was another mad rush to the gate," May told KTRK. "We got swept up in it. Literally, picked up off our feet, pushed forward a good 10 or 15 feet. The crowd then surged backward. I'm sitting there with my arms wrapped around my 16-year-old son terrified for our safety and fearing the worst and whispering in his ear, 'Don't worry everything is going to be OK. Don't fall down.'"

The concert was then canceled and when May returned to his hotel, he sent an email to NRG Park calling their crowd management "a disgrace."

"You should be embarrassed by your crowded control plan for the Playboi Carti concert tonight," May wrote. "It was a disgrace! Trying to funnel that many people into a limited entrance is a recipe for disaster. Consider yourself lucky if no one was killed or seriously injured."

When his son wanted to attend Astroworld, May said he wouldn't bring him back to NRG because he "didn't feel that NRG was prepared to handle a crowd."

Houston fire chief says Travis Scott could have done more to stop the crowd surge

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Travis Scott "absolutely" should have stopped his concert once the crowd surge began at his Astroworld Festival.

"The artist has command of that crowd," Peña told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie Tueday. "In my opinion...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.'"

However, Peña said he is "not prepared" to say whether Scott encouraged the crowd rush to the stage or that he was "fully aware of what was going on" during his concert.

"Everybody at that event," especially those there to provide public safety, "all have a responsibility to ensure each other's safety," he said, adding more answers will come after the investigation is completed.

"We're still trying to determine what caused the crowd to begin that surge," Peña said. "We're looking at everything."

Festival safety operations plan did not include information on crowd surge

The security and emergency response plan for the Astroworld Festival did not include information about how to prevent or manage a crowd surge.

The 56-page operations plan prepared by festival organizers outlined bomb threats, active shooters and severe weather but did not touch on what to do in the event that fans rush to the front of the stage.

"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."

If the crowd displays threatening or destructive behavior, the plan said staff should notify security and a supervisor.

The plan also states that Astroworld organizers "will be prepared to evaluate and respond appropriately to emergency situations" and identifies the "ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation."

Staff is also instructed to "never use the term 'dead' or 'deceased' over the radio," and rather use the code word "Smurf" if they suspect a victim is dead.

FBI joins criminal investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined Harris County and the City of Houston in the criminal investigation into the Astroworld Festival tragedy that left eight people dead.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo also said during a Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday that she is working on a path to an independent investigation into the festival.

Commissioners say it's important to get answers, but to do it in a timely, methodic way, KHOU's Janelle Bludau reported.

Hidalgo told reporters Monday night that the investigation involves the county's NRG Park venue, city fire and police, private medical and security, concert organizers and promoter Live Nation, which has a "history of [safety] violations."

Some groups have called for an independent investigation after noting a possible conflict of interests with the city police. While the event coordinators hired a private security company for the festival, the Associated Press reports, the Houston Police Department was also involved in crowd control and other safety duties.

FULL STORY: Independent Probe of Astroworld Deaths Could Avoid Conflict of Interest With Police

Travis Scott will cover funeral costs for Astroworld victims

Travis Scott will cover the funeral costs of the eight victims who died at his Astroworld Festival in Houston.

"Travis remains in active conversations with the city of Houston, law enforcement and local first responders to respectfully and appropriately connect with the individuals and families of those involved," a representative for Scott said in a statement to CNN.

"These are the first of many steps Travis plans on taking as a part of his personal vow to assist those affected throughout their grieving and recovery process," the statement said.

Scott will also partner with BetterHelp to provide free mental health services to those affected by the incident, the statement added.

Drake breaks silence on Astroworld Festival

Drake broke his silence on the Astroworld Festival tragedy that killed eight people and injured dozens of others.

"I've spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy," the rapper wrote in an Instagram post. "I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself."

Drake faced backlash from fans for his silence on social media and is facing a lawsuit for "inciting" the crowd.

He said his "heart is broken for the families and friends" of the deceased and "anyone who is suffering" and will continue to "pray for all of them."

"May God be with you all," he added.

FULL STORY: Drake Breaks Silence on Astroworld Tragedy—'My Heart is Broken'

Three injured concertgoers remain hospitalized, including 9-year-old boy in a coma

Three people who were injured at the Astroworld Festival in Houston last weekend remain in the hospital, according to Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña.

Two people are in critical condition, including a 9-year-old boy who is in a medically induced coma.

Ezra Blount was in town to see his "favorite artist" with his father Treston Blount, his grandfather Bernon Blount told CNN.

"When my son went to the concert, he had my grandson on his shoulder," Blount said. "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."

When his father came to, Erza had already been taken to the hospital as a John Doe. Blount said his grandson had cardiac arrest, which damaged his heart, and suffered damage to his liver, lungs and swelling in his brain.

"There needs to be accountability, not just from the artist or the event planners, but also from the city of Houston," Blount said.

Father discovered death of son on social media

The family of Axel Acosta said they found out their son was dead from a "picture on the internet."

His father, Edgar Acosta, said they called the hotel his son was staying at and found out he didn't spend the night there. Acosta said this was not like his son.

When the family called hospitals and the Sheriff's office, officials said Axel was not on the list of the identified victims.

Attorney Tony Buzbee said the family found out their son was dead after seeing a photo on social media.

Edgar said his son was "a great kid" and an "excellent student." Axel was the oldest cousin and always looked after his younger cousins and hoped to be a computer engineer "to help provide for his family," his father said.

35 plaintiffs join lawsuit against Travis Scott, concert organizers

Attorney Tony Buzbee said he will file a lawsuit against Travis Scott and concert organizers for "gross negligence" following a crowd rush that killed eight people in Houston's Astroworld Festival.

Buzbee said there are currently 35 plaintiffs on the suit, but "the number is growing."

"It is self-evident that this concert was planned poorly with no regard given to the safety of young people," he said, adding that there was no emergency response mechanism to help victims, not enough medical or security personnel at the event and "more people there than should have been."

Buzbee said his firm is suing Scott, concert promoters Scoremore and Live Nation, Contemporary Security Corporation and Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation for their failure to ensure the safety of fans at the venue.

He noted previous charges against Scott for encouraging "utter chaos" at shows and lawsuits filed against the concert organizers for safety violations.

Buzbee added there is a long history of people getting injured at concerts hoping to have fun, adding that experts in the field called this a history of "disinterest and greed."

The law firm also said it is seeking a temporary restraining order to contempt Scott, Live Nation and those named in the lawsuit to preserve evidence, including text messages from the day of the deadly Astroworld incident.

Attorney says victim was trampled over 'like a piece of trash'

Attorney Tony Buzbee held a press conference with the family of 21-year-old Axel Acosta Avila, who died at the Astroworld Festival last week, to discuss the lawsuit that will be filed against Travis Scott and concert organizers.

Buzbee said Acosta Avila died during the "crowd rush," noting he was trampled and the force of the crowd put "significant pressure on his body."

"The air was slowly squeezed out of him," he said.

Buzbee said Acosta Avila suffered asphyxiation that led to cardiac arrest.

He said other concertgoers trying not the be crushed themselves "trampled over [Acosta Avila's] body like a piece of trash."

While Acosta Avila loved rap music and Travis Scott, Buzbee said that love was not mutual.

"Organizers did not make a minimal effort to keep this young rap fan and others safe," he said.

Buzbee said Acosta Avila "didn't have to die," saying his death was "needless, unnecessary and could have been easily prevented."

Brother of Astroworld victim demands accountability

Basil Baig demanded accountability from Travis Scott, the venue and "everybody who was associated with" the incident that killed his brother.

"My brother was lying on the ground. They were chanting, 'stop the event.' Nobody stopped the event," Baig said at his brother's funeral. "I lost my brother because of it."

"You go to a concert to have fun. You don't go to a concert to die."

He blamed Scott for not stopping the show during the deadly crowd surging.

"He could stop the show for his show, but he can't stop a show for people," he said. "It was upsetting, it was sad, seeing people get thrown left and right. Stomped, girls, guys, everybody."

Houston Police Chief expressed safety concerns before concert

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said he expressed his public safety concerns with Travis Scott and his head of security during a "brief and respectful" meeting before the concert Friday.

"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," Finner said in a statement.

He asked Scott and his team to work with police over the weekend and "be mindful of his team's social media messaging on any unscheduled events."

Finner said the criminal investigation is still ongoing.

Statement from Police Chief @TroyFinner on #ASTROWORLDFest:#hounews pic.twitter.com/RouNcMErv2

— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) November 8, 2021

14 lawsuits filed against Travis Scott, concert organizers

At least 14 lawsuits have been filed against Travis Scott and festival organizers Live Nation Entertainment and ScoreMore, in Harris County District Court following a deadly crowd incident that killed eight people and injured dozens.

Concertgoer Manuel Souza is suing Scott for the "predictable and preventable tragedy" that he claims was the direct result of "a motivation for profit at the expense of concertgoers' health and safety." Souza is seeking $1 million in damages.

High profile attorney Ben Crump announced he was filing a suit against Scott and Astroworld on behalf of concert attendee Noah Guitierrez.

Rapper Drake, who appeared with Scoot on stage, is also facing legal action for allegedly "inciting mayhem."

FULL STORY: Travis Scott Now Faces 12 Lawsuits Connected to 8 Deaths At Astroworld Performance

Officials say large crowd size made it difficult to shut down concert

Safety officials said the large crowd size made it difficult to shut down the Astroworld Festival once crowd surges began.

Houston's NRG Park can hold 200,000 people, city officials limited the attendance to 50,000 Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told the Associated Press.

"It was the crowd control at the point of the stage that was the issue, especially as the crowd began to surge toward the stage," Peña said.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner told the AP it was difficult to shut down the festival with that many people in attendance. The event was called off 40 minutes after police arrived on the scene.

"You cannot just close when you've got 50,000—over 50,000— individuals, OK?" Finner said. "We have to worry about rioting—riots —when you have a group that's that young."

FULL STORY: What Happened at Astroworld and What Is NRG Stadium's Maximum Capacity?

Concertgoer recalls 'getting crushed' at Astroworld Festival

Arizona State University student Bianca Strauss was standing in the middle of the 50,000-person crowd before Travis Scott took the stage, she told KSAZ-TV.

Once people started rushing towards the front of the crowd, she was separated from her friend and surrounded by people when they "started falling down" in the pits.

Strauss said she was "getting smothered, getting trampled on" and having her hair pulled. Then, she says a man picked her up because she was "falling below everybody."

"There were thousands of people, so if you were pulled under, you were there," she noted.

Strauss said she went in and out of consciousness after "gasping for air" and "getting crushed."

"It felt like I was in a cardboard box just getting squished," she said.

At one point, she felt "ice-cold" hands pulling at her ankle and almost dragging her down.

Strauss said she kept praying, saying "just don't let me die this way. I don't want to die this way."

"It's just something I'll have to live with, that people didn't make it out and I could've been on that list of people," she said. "It's heartbreaking."

Stauss said she sustained two rib strains, a neck strain and bruises.

Harris County releases official names of Astroworld victims

The official names and ages of the eight victims who died at the Astroworld Festival in Houston have been publically released by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

  • Mirza Baig, 27, from Houston, Texas
  • Rodolfo Peña, 23, from Laredo, Texas
  • Madison Dubiski, 23, Cypress, Texas
  • Franco Patiño, 21, from Illinois
  • Jacob Jurinek, 20, from Illinois
  • John Hilgert, 14, from Houston, Texas
  • Axel Acosta Avila, 21, from Washington
  • Brianna Rodriguez, 16, from Houston, Texas

"In the days to come we'll hear more about their stories, their dreams and what they hoped to accomplish in life," Hidalgo said in a tweet. "To the parents, family members, and friends with a gaping hole in their hearts today, on behalf of the people of Harris County, we are with you."

Memorials have been erected around Houston to honor the victims who lost their lives last week.

I’ve gotten chills all morning watching people stop, even for a few seconds, to mourn this tragedy. They stop by the memorial to say a quick prayer or just to be here to honor the victims. Many of them holding back tears. It’s just so incredibly sad to witness. #khou11 @KHOU https://t.co/te4rpq6O3s

— David González (@DavidGonzKHOU) November 8, 2021

Correction 11/9/2021 11:50 AM ET - An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Jacob Jurinek. Newsweek regrets the error.

Petition to remove Travis Scott from Coachella receives almost 1,500 signatures

A petition is circulating online calling for Travis Scott to be removed from the upcoming Day N Vegas festival and Coachella festival next year.

"His deliberate recklessness and disregard for safety by encouraging rowdy crowds to rage and rush the security lines is an endangerment to all attendees, and he should be held accountable for his actions," the petition to Goldenvoice, the music event company that puts on both festivals, said.

The petition said the tragedy that occurred at the concert in Houston "could have been avoided and stopped," but Scott "wanted the show to keep going."

"Travis wanted the show to keep going even as he saw unconscious and dead bodies being trampled and carried out, medic trucks being jumped on, people screaming and crying in terror, and he continued to perform anyway," the petition said.

The petition organizer alleged Scott has "encouraged such reckless behavior" before.

Variety reported that Scott canceled his headlining performance at Day N Vegas this weekend.

The petition has almost 1,500 signatures as of Monday morning.

Families share the names of Astroworld Festival victims

Authorities said they would not release the names of the concertgoers who died at the Astroworld Festival in Houston. However, the families of the deceased have shared the names of seven of the victims.

John Hilbert: Hilbert, a ninth-grader at Memorial High School, was the youngest victim, the Spring Branch Independent School District confirmed.

"Our hearts go out to the student's family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial," Spring Branch ISD said in a statement. "This is a terrible loss, and the entire MHS family is grieving today. We will make counselors available to students next week to offer any help and support needed."

Franco Patino: Patino was a 21-year-old mechanical engineering technology student at the University of Dayton from Naperville, Illinois.

According to school officials, he was a member of the Alpha Psi Lambda, a Hispanic interest fraternity. Patino was active in the campus Greek Life, a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at UD and was currently working in an engineering co-op program.

His father Julio Patino told the Associated Press that his son was a charismatic, energetic leader who was active in his community and intent on helping people with disabilities after his mother was injured in a car accident two years ago.

"He loved his mom," Patino said. "He said everything that he was doing, it was trying to help his mom. The entire goal."

Jacob Jurinek: Jurinek attended the concert with his "best friend" Patino, his family said in a statement.

His family said he and Patino "were inseparable."

"We are all devastated and are left with a huge hole in our lives," his father, Ron Jurinek, added in an emailed statement to the Associated Press.

Jurinek was also from Naperville and was a student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale studying journalism and advertising, the Southern Illinoisan newspaper reported.

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane said in a statement that the school is "brokenhearted" and described Jurinek as a "creative, intelligent young man with a promising career."

Danish Baig: Baig died trying to protect his fiancé from being trampled, according to his older brother Basil Baig.

"People were trampled, walked, and stomped on. My brother tried to save my sister-in-law from these horrendous acts that were being done to her in the process he lost his life," Basil said in a Facebook post.

Baig said his brother's smile "would light up a room" and that he "put everyone before himself."

He said he was "lost for words" after his brother's "courageous act" to save his fiancé. Unfortunately, Basil Baig said he was also at the concert, but "wasn't able to save my brother."

Baig said the concert was "managed poorly and supervised by such horrible people." He also claims Travis Scott "provoked people" and "called people to the stage to jump into the crowd and did not stop the show" amid the shoving.

Rudy Peña: Peña was a 23-year-old student at Laredo College who wanted to be a Border Patrol agent, his friend Stacey Sarmiento told the Associated Press.

"Rudy was a close friend of mine," she said. "We met in high school. He was an athlete. He brought happiness anywhere he went. He was easy to get along with. It was like positive vibes from him at all times."

Axel Acosta: Acosta's family told KHOUS that their son died at the festival. He just turned 21 and was from Tieton, Washington, his lawyer Tony Buzbee said in a statement. He was a computer science major at Western Washington University.

"By all accounts, Axel was a young man with a vibrant future," his school said in a statement. "We are sending our condolences to his family on this very sad day."

Brianna Rodriguez: The 16-year-old was a student at Heights High School and loved to dance, her family told People Magazine, confirming she died during the festival.

Scott to refund festival tickets

Travis Scott will refund tickets for his Astroworld Festival, Variety reports.

A source close to Scott said he will provide full refunds for all attendees who bought tickets to Astroworld.

After eight concertgoers died and dozens were injured during his show in Houston Friday, Scott canceled the second night of the festival that was set to occur Saturday.

In a public statement made on Twitter, Scott said he is working to "support the families in need."

pic.twitter.com/ijXKslw7E2

— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 6, 2021

Scott cancels headlining performance in Vegas

Travis Scott canceled his performance at this weekend's Day N Vegas Festival, a week after eight people died during a crowd surge at his Astroworld festival in Houston.

Scott was scheduled to headline the festival on Saturday, November 13 at 10:45 p.m. following performances from Lil Baby and Doja Cat.

Sources describe Scott as "too distraught to play," Variety reported.

Day N Vegas, like Astroworld, is a general-admission festival. Festival organizers have not yet announced an updated lineup.

Scott also canceled his headlining performance at Day N Vegas in 2019 due to a broken foot.