The New York Times obtained two lengthy security plans prepared by concert organizers that highlighted a number of concerns related to the fest after previous crowd-control incidents in 2019; the new plans addressed extreme weather, an active shooter, riots and medical issues, among other things. One plan read: “Based on the site’s layout and numerous past experiences the potential for multiple alcohol/drug-related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns.” Barriers were constructed to be stronger and harder to breach than those used in 2019.
According to the Times, the medical plan was similarly robust — with two emergency room physicians, six registered nurses, two paramedics, and nine emergency medical technicians — but was overwhelmed before Scott even took the stage. Many patients were in need of naloxone, used to counteract the effects of opioids. More than 300 people would be in need of medical attention by the time the event was over.
Concerns were apparently so great about crowd control that Houston Police Chief Troy Finner even visited Scott before the show to warn him about the 50,000+ crowd, according to the Times. Finner confirmed that the visit took place later on Monday via a statement. “I met with Travis Scott and his head of security for a few moments last Friday prior to the main event,” the police chief wrote. “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.” “The meeting was brief and respectful,” Finner added.
Fire Chief Samuel Peña also told the Times that the onus was on Scott and organizers to stop the show when things started going south; as it stands, the event ended 30 minutes sooner than anticipated, but 40 minutes after city officials had declared it a “mass casualty event.” “The one person who can really call for and get a tactical pause when something goes wrong is that performer. They have that bully pulpit and they have a responsibility,” Chief Peña said. “If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, shut this thing down and turn on the lights until this thing gets corrected’ — and that coming from the person with the mic — I think could have been very helpful.”
Scott has not replied to Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment, but he made a public statement Saturday: “I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival. Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life. I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need. Thank you Houston PD, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their immediate response and support. Love you all.”
Live Nation also issued a brief statement. “Heartbroken for those lost and impacted at Astroworld last night,” the concert promotion company wrote. “We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation.”
Meanwhile, friends and families of the victims continue to search for answers. Julio Patino, brother of 21-year-old biomedical engineering student Franco Patino, told Rolling Stone on Sunday: “I just want something to change — that we don’t just forget about it and the next week, nothing happens and it continues to happen,” he says. “Everybody I’ve talked to, they said that in concerts, big like that, if you go on the front, that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to get squished. … That’s just a norm. And I don’t want that to be anymore. … People are dying and my little brother’s gone and this needs to stop.”