© 2024 WUTC
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

8 people were killed at Houston's Astroworld Festival after crowd rushed the stage

Updated November 6, 2021 at 6:52 PM ET

Eight people died and scores were injured at an outdoor concert at rapper Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival in Houston after the crowd rushed the stage, authorities said Saturday.

Scott was performing when, shortly after 9 p.m. local time, the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, causing panic.

The cause of the eight deaths has not yet been determined, and the investigation is ongoing.

The victims range in age from 14 to 27, officials said at a Saturday afternoon briefing. They also confirmed that 25 people were transported to the hospital, with 13 still hospitalized including five minors. No one is reported missing at this point.

"Last night was tragic on many different levels, and this is a very, very active investigation," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "And we'll probably be at it for quite some time to determine what exactly happened."

More details and numbers are starting to emerge

Officials provided a slightly more detailed picture of the night's events on Saturday, but cautioned that it could take weeks or longer to determine exactly what happened.

Of the eight people reported dead, one was 14, two were 16, two were 23, one was 27 and one person's age remains unknown.

Authorities had previously said that CPR had to be performed on several people. At about 9:38 p.m., 17 patients at the event were transferred to hospitals and 11 of those transferred experienced cardiac arrest, according to Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña.

Police made 25 arrests on Friday night, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said, and the vast majority were for trespassing. One person was arrested for possession of marijuana, and one for public intoxication.

Finner also addressed rumors of drug use at the concert, including what he described as a "narrative" of someone injecting people with drugs.

He said one medical staff member told investigators that a security guard went unconscious after feeling a "prick in his neck." That officer — who investigators have yet to interview — was reportedly revived after being given Narcan, and did indeed have a prick in his neck consistent with the mark of an injection, Finner said.

In response to a reporter's question, Finner later said there had been "many" instances of Narcan being administered, but declined to elaborate.

Officials at the briefing cautioned against buying into rumors and unconfirmed social media reports, and are asking anyone with information to get in touch. They said the investigation will involve both the police department's homicide and narcotics divisions.

Live Nation, the organizer of the concert, is expected to provide authorities with video footage of the incident.

Officials promise to leave "no stones unturned" as they investigate

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo called for an "objective, independent investigation as to what went on and how it could have been prevented."

Turner said investigators will talk to Live Nation representatives, members of Scott's team and witnesses. They will also review video footage from the concert, as well as the approved security plans and communications between the city and the county.

Multiple officials promised that the investigation would "leave no stones unturned" and will be looking at inspections and permits issued for the event.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said earlier in the day that "our hearts are with those who lost their lives & those who were injured" and that he's making state resources available for the investigation.

Comparing security precautions to that of the 2019 festival

Officials discussed the specific safety provisions that those involved with the festival took ahead of time, as well as the emergency response that ensued.

There were about 50,000 guests in attendance during Scott's performance, Peña said. There are no occupancy permits for outdoor events, but he said fire code assembly occupancy would have allowed more than 200,000 people at NRG Park, the festival venue.

The crowd was divided into two separate stages in two separate areas as required, he added, and the entrances and exists remained unobstructed. There were permits and inspectors for things like pyrotechnics, tents and doors.

Reports of people falling started to come in around 9:30 p.m., and the festival had come to an end by 10:10, authorities said.

Hidalgo noted that there were barricade breaches and crowd control issues at the 2019 Astroworld, which was the most recent iteration. As a result, she said, this year's event had stronger fencing, more barricades, additional space for crowd control and more security personnel.

The 2019 festival had 409 events security personnel, 30 armed private security staff and 47 police officers. This year's had 505 events security staff, 91 armed private staff and 76 police officers, she said.

Turner said that about 528 police officers provided security for the event and another 755 private security officers were contracted through Live Nation.

Shortly after 9 p.m. local time during Travis Scott's performance at Astroworld Fest in Houston, Texas, the crowd started rushing the stage, authorities said.
Erika Goldring / WireImage
Shortly after 9 p.m. Friday during Travis Scott's performance at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, the crowd started rushing the stage, authorities said.

The rest of the festival has been canceled

The Astroworld Festival, which was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, said Saturday events were canceled. The festival posted to Instagram on Saturday morning saying, "We are focused on supporting local officials however we can."

Xavier Watkins, who said he's been to all three Astroworld Festivals, was at the event Friday night. But last night's concert was different from any others he's experienced.

"I'm 6'3 and I felt bad for the smaller people there cause they were just being swallowed down at first into the crowd," Watkins said in a text message to NPR. "I was doing my best to help pull people up cause it was also muddy and it was very easy to slip."

Watkins said there wasn't enough security at this year's event, and from the security guards he spoke with, many said it was their first time staffing a concert like this.

Travis Scott, whose real name is Jacques Webster, is a Grammy-nominated rapper and Houston native, and launched his Astroworld Festival in 2018. He was arrestedin 2015after telling his fans to jump the barricades during his Lollapalooza performance and in 2017 for encouraging people to rush the stage at a performance in Arkansas.

The details of what caused the crowd to surge are still unclear.

"My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival," Scott wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. "I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.