Drake and Travis Scott were unaware of the extent of the tragedy that occurred at Astroworld on Friday until they were briefed at a Dave & Buster’s after-party where the rapper immediately left, a source told TMZ.
According to friends of Travis and Drake, they were never told by security at the Astroworld festival that eight people died due to the crowd stampede, or that hundreds more were injured.
“Travis didn’t know the severity of the situation when he arrived at the party,” the source explained. “As far as timing, this remains consistent with the fact that no one including the police had publicly confirmed the gravity of the events that had taken place.”
Drake had been a surprise guest at Travis’ Astroworld event and reportedly was also unaware that people were being crushed in the crowd. There were roughly 50,000 people at NRG Park in Houston that day, home stadium of the Texans football team.
“I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy,” Drake later wrote on Instagram. “I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself.”
“My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering,” Drake said. “I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can, May God be with you all.”
Travis Scott also put out a statement on Saturday following the event, writing that “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.”
As new pieces of information arise, the scene seems to paint a bizarre picture around NRG Park staff and security, who were reportedly understaffed and already worried about crowd control procedure before the show even started.
The venue has put on Astroworld for the past five years, with reports surfacing after Friday’s tragedy from fans speaking out about being hurt and dealing with relaxed security in previous Astroworld events.
In a strange 56-page Event Operations Plan for NRG Park, obtained by CNN, staffers and security were allegedly told that they could not mention death over the radio if such an event were to occur, as to not incite panic. Instead of using terms like “dead” or deceased,” they were told to call the victims “smurfs.”
The Houston Chronicle believes the blue cartoon “smurfs” were used as the code word due to suffocated and crushed victims appearing black and blue.
It’s unclear whether anyone actually referred to the victims as “smurfs” during the event, but the order not to use the terms “dead” or “deceased” over the radio may add more reason as to why Travis Scott and Drake were so unaware of what was happening at the concert.
Brent Taylor, spokesman for the office of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, said that he believed the code word was simply “operational.”
The 56-page Event Operations Plan for NRG Park also did not have a section designated for what to do during a potentially dangerous crowd surge.
Instead, it simply read that, “the key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open.”
“Crowd management techniques,” the plan mentioned without going into detail, “will be employed to identify potentially dangerous crowd behavior in its early stages in an effort to prevent a civil disturbance/riot.”
Travis Scott and Drake said that they would both continue to work with families to pay for the funeral costs for fans who tragically died in the Astroworld tragedy.