Houston officials said on Saturday they were still trying to determine what initially set off the crowd surge that killed eight people, including two teenagers, during Travis Scott’s sold-out Astroworld Fest on Friday night.
During a news conference on Saturday, police released the victims’ ages: 14, 16, 21, 21, 23, 23, 27. One victim remains unidentified. While hundreds were injured in the chaos, Houston Police Chief Troy Turner said that 25 people were transported to the hospital; 13 are still hospitalized — including five under the age of 18.
“Last night was tragic on many different levels,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “There are a lot of unanswered questions, and over the next several days, several weeks — it could be longer — we’ll take an in-depth look,” Turner said.
Witnesses described a massive wave of people surging toward the event’s main stage, as a timer counted down to Travis Scott’s performance.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said that 528 police officers — a number significantly higher than the 300-plus figure he had initially said were on duty — and 755 private security officers provided by Astroworld organizers Live Nation were working at the festival Friday. Finner added that there were 25 arrests in total at the festival, 23 of those were trespassing, one for possession of marijuana and one for public intoxication.
When asked whether city officials and organizers allowed too many people to attend the two-day Astroworld Fest, Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña said that 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.
Mayor Turner cautioned that “there are a lot of rumors on social media, let me caution people not to buy into the rumors.”
One such rumor is that someone in the crowd was “injecting” people which in turn sparked the crowd surge.
Chief Finner said that one unnamed security officer was given Narcan and revived after being “pricked” by something that medical staff said was consistent with a needle. At the time of the press conference, police were still trying to identify and locate the security officer.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo thanked the Good Samaritans at Astroworld, noting that “it could have been much worse if people hadn’t stepped in.”
“It just breaks your heart, and I know the images we’ve seen are hard to stomach, and I’m sure more will surface that will be hard to stomach,” Hidalgo said. She added that she would call for an “objective, independent investigation” to determine “if it could have been prevented, or if it was out of everybody’s hands.”
Travis Scott previously said in a statement Saturday morning, “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 continues 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 said in a statement Saturday to Rolling Stone, “Heartbroken for those lost and impacted at Astroworld last night. We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation.”