Authorities are still sifting through the aftermath of the horrific incident Sunday, but here is what we currently know about what transpired in Houston.
What, Exactly, Happened?
As Scott’s set Friday began at around 9 p.m., the crowd began moving toward the stage, causing mass chaos, Houston police and fire officials said. “The crowd for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said during a Saturday morning press conference. “They were unable to escape that situation.”
Peña said on Saturday that an investigation will focus on “what caused, one, the issue of the crowd surge, and two, what prevented people from being able to escape that situation.”
There were allegations — first reported by TMZ — that someone “injecting” the crowd with drugs started the surge, but these are not verified. As Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said: “I’m going to hold any sort of conclusion pending a thorough review and investigation… I don’t even want to go to drug overdoses. We are looking at all potential causes of this incident or what caused the cardiac arrest. We’re not taking anything off the table.”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said on Saturday that one security officer was given Narcan and revived after being “pricked” by something that medical staff said was consistent with a needle. That security officer has not yet been located.
Festival-goers told Rolling Stone that attempts to communicate the danger of the situation to the staff fell on deaf ears — even when attendees climbed the risers to plead with the crew filming the show for Apple Music. Video from the incident appears to show the crew ignoring those efforts, with some in the crowd mocking the pleas for help. One festival attendee told Rolling Stone the event continued until after 10 p.m. as people passed out in the crowd. According to the timeline officials gave at a news conference on Saturday, police declared the situation a mass casualty event at 9:38 p.m., but Travis Scott continued to perform until about 10:10 p.m.
Scott apparently witnessed at least one unconscious fan being removed from the area near the side of the stage; he stopped the music and alerted the crew. “Somebody needs help, somebody passed out right here,” he said in a video posted on Reddit. “Can somebody help jump in real quick, c’mon c’mon.”
The show was eventually stopped by organizers and authorities, but by then “the damage had been done,” Peña said. The second day of the fest was canceled.
Who Was Affected?
Currently, we know of eight people who were killed as a result of the surge. Names are slowly filtering out to the public, but the victims were 14 years old, 16, 21, 21, 23, 23, 27 and one of unknown age.
John Hilgert was the 14-year-old, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. He attended the show with 15-year-old Robby Hendrix, whose mother, Tracy Faulkner, bought her son tickets for his birthday.
“Everything about that night was a tragedy,” Faulkner said. “John was a good student and athlete and so polite. He was the sweetest and smartest young man.”
Rodolfo Angel Peña, 23, also died as a result of the melee. According to USA Today, he was an aspiring model and psychology student from Laredo, Texas. “He’s a real strong person,” his brother Guadalupe Peña said. “I know he would have gotten out of it. It seems real sketchy how it happened.”
Franco Patino, 21, died at the fest as well. He was a biomedical engineering student from the University of Dayton, Ohio. “He was the type of person that was going to be there for you and help you feel included. He was just spreading happiness and joy wherever he went,” his brother Julio told Rolling Stone.
More than 300 people were also injured during the incident, with 23 people taken to area hospitals, 11 in critical condition, including a 10-year-old boy.
Was the Festival Unprepared?
The Houston Police Department said there were 528 HPD officers on the scene in addition to 755 private security officers provided by Live Nation.
According to Peña, there are no capacity limits for outdoor events. Astroworld Fest sold 50,000 tickets for both days of the festival, but he said there are no rules in place to prevent the fest from hosting 250,000 people if it wanted.
Still, Rolling Stone spoke with a concert insurance expert with said that there were early warning signs that something like this could occur. At 2 p.m. on Nov. 5, fans rushed through a V.I.P. security entrance at the festival, knocking over metal detectors. “It suggests they weren’t prepared for the kind of crowd they were going to get,” he said.
Jim Digby, co-founder and president of the concert-industry nonprofit Event Safety Alliance, however, places the blame on the audience rather than the fest: “That sounds to me like an out-of-control audience,” he says, “not an unprepared promoter.”