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'People are dying' | Houston police release final reports from Astroworld Festival investigation

Ten people, including a 9-year-old boy, died after being crushed during the 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park in Houston.

HOUSTON — Houston police released a series of reports Friday into the investigation of what happened during the deadly Astroworld Festival tragedy. The incident left 10 people dead, including a 9-year-old boy, and roughly 300 other people injured.  

The more than 1,200 pages of reports released Friday morning detail attempts to stop the show just moments after it began. It includes statements from a security contractor, firefighter and police officer who warned higher ups about crowd conditions and urged them to stop the concert more than an hour before it was shut down. 

Moments after Travis Scott’s 9 p.m. set, a security contractor texted the festival’s security director, “Stage right of main is getting crushed. This is bad.” He continued, “Pull tons over the rail unconscious. There's panic in people eyes. This could get worse quickly.” 

That security director later said she checked and didn’t see what the contractor described. She was one of several people, including Scott, who were part of a grand jury investigation that last month found no one criminally responsible for the November 2021 deaths.  

But that contractor wasn’t the only one raising red flags. At about the same time, a Houston police officer said people were “begging her to stop the music because there were people unconscious on the ground being trampled.” She “put the transmission over the air to stop the concert sometime around 9 p.m.,” the report reads. 

Shortly afterward, the 911 calls started – 25 over the 30 minutes. One call at 9:13 p.m. was transcribed as, “’People are dying they can't breathe (Inaudible)’ Can hear screaming and yelling. ‘Please stop it, please stop it, people are dying.’” 

A firefighter radioed in more concerns at 9:20 p.m. “That is when I realized that the crowd was compressing, and people were emerging from the crowd under duress. I radioed in my suspicions to HFD Command,” he told an investigator. 

It took another 19 minutes, however, before Houston police commanders said they heard, “three persons were receiving CPR and the personnel in the media towers were afraid as people were climbing the tower. We immediately moved back toward the front of the stage to find (the safety and risk director), see what was going on, and shut down the event.” 

That safety and risk director, who was later investigated by the grand jury, said the show would end at 10 p.m., but when it didn’t, he went to the technicians who had direct contact to Travis Scott’s earpiece.   

“I told the three men we had three people receiving CPR and we had to shut the show down immediately. One of the males responded by saying ‘but they're not dead,’” the commander wrote in a statement. “I yelled they might and we had to shut down. One of the males said they would tell Mr. Scott and he would come on stage and shut it down but they needed time. I did not want to risk a panic or a riot and make things worse.” 

The music didn’t stop for another 13 minutes.  

Travis Scott thought the crowd was “super chill” 

Scott’s interview with police is also in the report. He said he never heard anyone from the crowd pleading to shut it down, and even checked in with the crowd by saying, “if everyone is okay, put a finger up, and put a middle finger up.’ He stated that everyone put a middle finger up.” 

“Travis stated that he believed that the crowd did understand him when he gave that directive,” the report reads. “He stated that he has been doing this for a long time and he noted that when the people are not doing what he is asking them, then there is a problem.” 

Toward the end of the show, Drake joined him on stage and he was told in his earpiece that he needed to wrap it up, but there was no details about the emergency.  

As Drake was leaving, he got another message, “he was told in his earpiece, ‘yo Trav, you got to wrap it up, its getting kinda hectic out there’ He stated again that he was supposed to go until 10:30 but he was told to stop short after Drake got off the stage,” the report said. “Again, there was no mention to the severity of the situation.” 

Although no one has been criminally indicted, numerous civil lawsuits have been filed on behalf of victims and their families. 

Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner has said before that the report was going to be released in an effort to be transparent about their investigation.  

The documents were released on the same day as Scott released his latest album. HPD said that was just a coincidence. 

The full report can be read here.

Victims' families react to Astroworld Festival final report

Attorneys representing the families of Astroworld Festival victims call HPD's final report of the incident further proof of negligence. 

They plan to use it as evidence in civil cases.

"Families are still feeling exactly what they felt the day after the tragedy occurred," attorney Alex Hilliard said. 

Hilliard represents about 700 concertgoers who've filed a lawsuit over the event. He also represents the family of Ezra Blount, the youngest victim who died.

"There are some days when you can't get out of bed," Hilliard said. "There are some days when there's pure grief, pure shock, pure anger."

He said that was especially true when families found out no one would be criminally charged. But Hilliard said the extensive police report, which includes excruciating witness accounts, will be evidence in an ongoing civil litigation aimed, in part, at preventing future tragedies. 

In a statement, another attorney representing victim's families said:

"The report, while important for the public to see, simply confirms what we already feared and have discovered in the course of the lawsuit. That the organizers and promoters of the concert failed to properly plan, valuing profitability over the obvious safety concerns that proved fatal."

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