Audio recordings of police communications from the night of the Astroworld Festival disaster reveal that officers on the scene called for the concert to stop because people were being trampled in the crowd, but Travis Scott carried on with his performance.
A crowd surge at the sold-out festival of 50,000 people on November 5 left nine people dead and hundreds injured, among them a 9-year-old boy who remained in a medically induced coma.
Concertgoers have described the packed crowd growing dangerous hours before Scott appeared on stage at 9pm, and seeing people collapse while the rapper performed. Scott’s attorneys have said he did not know about the deaths and injuries until after the show.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner has placed the blame on Scott for not canceling the performance after his officers were caught on video milling about next to the stage and recording the rapper on their cellphones after a ‘mass casualty event’ was declared.
On Friday, lawyers for 200 victims of tragedy announced that they were filing another 90 lawsuits against the promoters of the festival.
Personal injury attorney Alex Hilliard said during a press conference that the organizers of the event did not have a plan in place, and the moment the gates at NRG Park opened at 9am on November 5, ‘things were out of control.’
Another lawyer representing a further 150 alleged victims released police logs on Friday, which showed that a lieutenant requested riot gear nearly an hour before the festival got under way.
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Recordings of police radio traffic from the night of the Astroworld Festival disaster show that officers quickly became aware of the danger in the packed crowd
Police called for the concert to stop, but Travis Scott continued his performance for nearly an hour, despite the deadly crowd surge
Scott was only minutes into his hour-long set when at least one Houston officer radioed over a police channel that the main stage had been compromised by a massive crowd surge.
Recordings of police radio traffic, obtained by the Houston Chronicle, reveal how quickly law enforcement became aware of the mounting danger in the throng of concertgoers shortly after the rapper began performing.
‘Looks like folks are coming out of the crowd complaining of difficulty breathing, crushing-type injuries,’ one official said over the police radio around 9.21pm, according to the audio. ‘Seems like the crowd is compressing on itself.’
Scott kept performing his set. The newspaper reported that officers spotted people leaving the crowd but that their voices remained calm through the first half hour.
‘I’m at the medical tent,’ one officer radioed in around 9.30pm. ‘There’s a lot of people trampled and they’re passed out at the front stage.’
A second officer is heard on the recording saying of the unfolding crisis: ‘that crowd is super thick, super dense. if you go in there, this could possibly turn into an officer rescue situation.’
Video showed police officers milling about next to the stage, and even recording Scott’s performance on their cellphones
Later, another officer says: ‘we’re getting multiple reports of people getting injured. We have another report of cardiac situation with CPR by the stage.’
As the crowd surged, officers at the site grew increasingly alarmed at what they were seeing, with one radioing in: ‘they have to stop the show because there’s people trampled… they’re not breathing.’
A registered nurse who gave her name only as Sophie told CBS Mornings on Friday that she was near the stage when fell onto another concertgoer and then two other people fell on top of her.
‘And at that moment I kind of just told myself: if this is the way that I go then this is the way that I go,”‘ she recalled. ‘Thankfully, some guy helped me up.’
After getting to her feet, Sophie went used her medical training to try and help victims, but the first three people she aided were already dead. Then, she came across a festival attendee named Arturo who was still alive but had a very faint pulse.
A lawyer representing victims said medics at the venue were understaffed and lacked sufficient life-saving equipment
‘I think he would have died if I didn’t get there at the time that I did,’ Sophie said.
Sophie recounted witnessing what she described as ‘disregard for human life,’ with concertgoers allegedly stealing clothing and electronics left behind by victims.
The nurse wondered how Scott, who was just 10-15 feet away from her up on the stage, could not see people begging for his help.
On Thursday, Scott’s representatives said in a statement that he was distraught and has been trying to connect with the affected families to share condolences and provide them aid.
Police Chief Finner said on Wednesday that police told organizers to pull the plug on the performance when fans in the crowd were administered CPR.
Authorities gave word around 10.03pm that the concert was in the process of shutting down, but witnesses say Scott and Drake, who took the stage toward the end of Scott’s set as a special guest, kept performing.
Finner repeatedly refused to provide timelines, saying the case was still under investigation. He said more than 500 officers were working the festival, more than double the number assigned in 2019 when the festival was last held.
But Finner said festival organizers had not provided clear records of how many private security guards were working the show, describing what they turned over as ‘just not good.’ It was up to Live Nation Entertainment, the show’s promoter, to secure two mosh pits in front of the stage, Finner said.
Scott’s attorneys on Wednesday pointed to an operational plan for the event that states only the festival director and executive producers have the authority to stop the show, ‘neither of which is part of Travis’s crew.’
John Duff, whose clients include the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount who remains hospitalized in a coma, said concertgoers in a section to the right of the stage would have had to go through thousands of people to access the main medical tent. He said a week later, the festival grounds are still littered with piles of bloody clothes, shoes, cellphone cases and bags.
‘There was probably 1,000 pairs of shoes out there. It seems like a lot (of) people left barefoot or without clothes,’ he said. ‘You kind of felt a heavy presence out there.’
On Friday, personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Alex Hillard held a joint press conference in Houston to announce that they were brining 90 lawsuits on behalf of 200 clients claiming they were injured during the festival.
The filing follows at least 50 other suits that have been brought against producer Live Nation Entertainment Inc and Scott over the deaths and injuries related to the concert.
Crump said any one of several concert officials could have prevented deaths and injuries by stopping the show and turning on the house lights when the chaos in the crowd became apparent.
‘Nobody should ever die from going to a concert,’ said Crump. ‘So this lawsuit is not just about getting justice for them, but it’s about making sure that the promoters and the organizers know that you cannot allow this to ever happen in the future.’
Personal injury and civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced he is filing 90 lawsuits on behalf of 200 people claiming they were injured during the concert
Attorney Alex Hilliard claimed that things got out of control at the venue the moment gates opened at 9am because there was no plan in place
Hillard lashed out at what he described as the organizers’ ‘criminal behavior,’ which he claimed started weeks prior to the concert when no safety plan had been put in place.
‘At 9am when the gates opened, everything was out of control,’ Hillard said while standing beside some of his clients. ‘As soon as the first person gets injured, if there’s no plan, chaos ensues. The chaos grew, and grew, and grew until multiple people…lost their lives.
Hilliard described what transpired at the concert venue as ’45 minutes of torture,’ with people being unable to breathe or move, and having to witness fellow attendees dying in front of their eyes.
‘And when you do finally escape that war zone and you get out of that crowd, you see multiple bodies on the floor,’ he said.
The lawyer contended that medical personnel at the site were ‘egregiously short-staffed’ and lacking sufficient life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, to resuscitate all the victims.
A concertgoer named Arturo (left) was saved by a registered nurse named Sophie (right), who claimed she was nearly crushed to death
Hillard argued that based on evidence gathered by his experts on the scene, the concert should have never been approved.
‘We’re talking about the largest organizer and promoter of festivals and concerts in the world,’ he said, referring to Live Nation. ‘And when that happens, a failure of epic proportions on this type scale, it is criminal. It is nothing but criminal.’
He added: ‘sadly, a lot of our clients didn’t even understand when they were buying their tickets – how could they – that they were buying their own death certificates.’
Travis Scott and Drake could pay ‘billions’ in damages as 150 victims join lawsuit suing the rappers after deadly crush at Astroworld concert
Travis Scott and Drake could pay ‘billions’ in damages after a lawsuit involving 150 people injured in the deadly crush at the Astroworld concert was announced.
Powerhouse Texas attorney Thomas J. Henry, father of Liam Payne’s girlfriend Maya Henry, says that he is being contacted by more people ‘by the hour.’
Eight people were killed at the NRG stadium on Friday night, more than 300 people received treatment at an emergency field hospital set up there, 11 others went into cardiac arrest and dozens more were knocked unconscious.
‘More and more injured victims are contacting my firm by the hour,’ said Henry. ‘I believe the damages suffered by its victims could total in the billions.’
Among his clients is 23-year-old concertgoer Kristian Paredes whose complaint accuses Scott and Drake of ‘inciting mayhem’ at the event.
The eight dead (L-R): Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Pena, 23; Jacob Jurinek, 20; Franco Patino, 21; Brianna Rodriguez, 16; Danish Baig, 27; Axel Acosta, 21; John Hilgert, 14; Madison Dubiski, 23.
Texas-resident Paredes says he was left ‘severely injured’ and is demanding $1 million to cover the costs of his healthcare treatment.
He ‘felt an immediate push’ at the front of the general admission section as Travis Scott got on stage, the complaint said.
‘Many begged security guards hired by Live Nation Entertainment for help, but were ignored.’
The suit, filed in Houston’s Harris County court, claims Scott ‘had incited mayhem and chaos at prior events’ and that ‘defendants knew or should have known of (Scott’s) prior conduct.’
The suit also accuses Canadian rap superstar Drake, who joined Scott’s headline set, of contributing to the surge.
‘As Drake came onstage alongside of Travis Scott he helped incite the crowd even though he knew of Travis Scott’s prior conduct,’ the complaint charges.
He continued to perform even as the ‘crowd became out of control’ and the ‘crowd mayhem continued,’ it added.
High-profile attorney Ben Crump announced Sunday he had also filed suit against Scott and Astroworld.
Crump has represented the families of police killing victims George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
He and co-counsel Bob Hilliard filed suit Sunday on behalf of 21-year-old concertgoer Noah Gutierrez, who described ‘a scene of chaos and desperation.’
The lawyers said they expected to file suit on behalf of other concertgoers during the week.
‘We are hearing horrific accounts of the terror and helplessness people experienced – the horror of a crushing crowd and the awful trauma of watching people die while trying unsuccessfully to save them,’ Crump and Hilliard said in the statement.
‘We urge others who suffered physical or emotional injury or witnessed the events of that day to contact us.’