Could Travis Scott have prevented the Astroworld tragedy? The 30-year-old rapper is facing a police investigation and at least one lawsuit after eight people died and dozens more were hospitalized in the crowd at his Friday concert in Houston.
Eyewitness accounts and media reports indicate that concertgoers rushed the stage at the beginning of Scott’s performance, “crushing” fans between the crowd and the stage and trampling those who fell to the ground.
Though the rapper has said he could not see or hear members of the crowd who needed assistance and called out for help, some concertgoers and officials are blaming Travis Scott for the lack of adequate crowd control that led to what police called a “mass casualty event.”
Police Warned Travis Scott About Crowd Control
The New York Times reported Sunday that Houston police chief Troy Finner spoke with Scott ahead of the concert to “convey concerns about the energy in the crowd” at NRG Park.
Specifically, Finner noted that the crowd included “very devoted fans” whose excitement to see the rapper could make them difficult to control, according to the Times.
It’s not clear how seriously Travis Scott took this warning, or if any changes were made to event security protocol.
Houston police are continuing to conduct a criminal investigation into the deadly concert. Officials said the probe was in its “early stages” and could take weeks to determine who — if anyone — could be held criminally liable for the loss of life.
Lawsuit: Travis Scott ‘Consciously Ignored’ Crowd Safety
In addition to potential fallout from the police investigation, Travis Scott was personally named in a lawsuit filed by an attendee who claimed to have been injured at the Astroworld music festival.
CNN reported that Manuel Souza is suing Scott, event organizer Live Nation, and concert promoter Scoremore for “monetary relief of over $1,000,000.”
Souza’s lawyers allege that he “suffered serious bodily injuries when the uncontrolled crowd at the concert knocked him to the ground and trampled him.”
“[Scott and event staff] failed to properly plan and conduct the concert in a safe manner,” the lawsuit claims. “Instead, they consciously ignored the extreme risks of harm to concertgoers, and, in some cases actively encouraged and fomented dangerous behaviors. Their gross negligence caused [Souza] serious injuries.”
Other Astroworld attendees are expected to file suit in coming weeks, the New York Post reported.
Scott Blamed for Inaction, Culture of ‘Raging’
For his part, Travis Scott has said since the deadly incident that he did not realize the extent of the danger in the crowd while he was on stage. He has yet to comment on the lawsuit, but has promised more than once to cooperate fully with the police investigation.
Still, some officials and concertgoers are blaming the rapper for not intervening sooner, and for enabling a culture of “raging” at his shows.
“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,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena told the Times.
“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,” Pena added.
According to police accounts, the concert did not stop until 40 minutes after officials declared the concert a “mass casualty event.”
One attendee told CNN that he tried to assist concertgoers who had lost consciousness or had fallen to the ground, but that event staff were nowhere to be found.
“I picked some kid up and his eyes rolled to the back of his head, so I checked his pulse. I knew he was dead,” Bill Nasser told reporters. “I checked the people around me. And I just had to leave him there, there was nothing I could do. I had to keep going.”
He continued: “There wasn’t enough security guards and there wasn’t enough EMTs and people helping out the crowd. The paramedics couldn’t even reach the crowd.”
What’s more, many critics are claiming that Scott enables a chaotic atmosphere at his shows.
TMZ unearthed a video, now deleted from most official Astroworld social media accounts, promoting this year’s festival with a series of clips from the 2019 event.
The clips show fans pushing down barriers, clashing with crowd control officers and running past security checkpoints toward the event stage.
The promotional video, TMZ claims, “plays up the apparent inherent danger that lies with attending Astroworld Fest” and appears to make the chaotic mood of the crowd and riot-like atmosphere a selling point for fans.