A sold-out Houston music festival attended by an estimated 50,000 people turned deadly on Friday night after a headliner began to perform.
The Associated Press reported, the crowd gathered for the two-day event in NRG Park at Astroworld “suddenly surged toward the stage during a performance by rapper Travis Scott, squeezing fans so tightly together that they could not breathe or move their arms and killing eight people in the chaos” and hospitalizing several others. According to the outlet, “As a timer clicked down to the start of the performance, the crowd pushed forward.”
“Everyone was passing out around you, and everyone was trying to help each other. But you just couldn’t move. You couldn’t do anything. You can’t even pick your arms up,” Nick Johnson, a high school student who attended the concert, told the AP. “It just got worse and worse.”
Officials called off the event about 40 minutes after law enforcement observed concertgoers “going down.” Authorities said a “mass casualty incident” had occurred at 9:38 p.m. According to the Houston Chronicle, “concert attendees said Scott appeared to play his whole set and finished at 10:15 p.m.”
Scott, who CNN identified as an organizer of the Astroworld Festival, “was on the outdoor stage when he paused and looked at the crowd in confusion as an ambulance with flashing lights move through the audience,” the outlet reported.
Kylie Jenner, pregnant with Scott’s second child, reportedly attended the show and posted video clips of Scott’s performance on social media as first responders navigated through the crowd to provide medical attention. Jenner deleted the videos, and on Sunday, she said the couple did not know what had happened at the concert until later.
“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,” she posted on Instagram.
On Saturday morning, Scott had issued a statement that said he was “absolutely devastated by what took place.”
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 6, 2021
“Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life,” Scott said. “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.”
City officials said the victims’ ages ranged from 14 to 27, while one person’s age is unknown. On Saturday, Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner said the families of six of the eight deceased had been notified.
More details from the Houston Chronicle:
The mass casualty event is now a criminal investigation involving police homicide and narcotics divisions, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said. Some people were trampled, and autopsy reports are being conducted, according to law enforcement officials.
The chief also addressed swirling narratives about nefarious drug activity at the event, but urged caution in rushing to assess those claims. He confirmed, however, that one security officer went unconscious after feeling a prick in his neck during the melee. He was revived after medical authorities administered Narcan, or Naloxone, and they discovered a prick similar to what one would expect from an injection, Finner said.