HOUSTON — No single person was criminally responsible for the deaths at the Astroworld Festival back in November of 2021. That's what a grand jury determined Thursday when they cleared Houston rapper Travis Scott and others of criminal wrongdoing.
Ten people, including a 9-year-old boy, died at or after the festival. The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office determined they died as a result of compression asphyxia.
We're told investigators spent well over a year reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses. And on Thursday, those investigators showed some of the evidence that was presented to the grand jury.
"One of the key contributions to the death was the overpopulation and resulting compaction in this quadrant, quadrant 3," HPD Detective Mike Barrow said at a news conference after the grand jury returned the no-bill. "This was not a crowd stampede. This was not a stage rush. This was not a crowd surge. This was a slow compaction or constriction into this quadrant resulting in collapsing within the crowd."
Barrow said that the crowd gathered early at the stage where Scott was going to perform at 9 p.m. Meanwhile, the crowd that was at a performance in front of another stage moved over to where the main stage crowd already was.
You can see Barrow's explanation and video that was part of the investigation here.
Chief Troy Finner with the Houston Police Department said the investigation report was more than 1,000 pages and will be made available to the public in the coming weeks. He said that's for transparency.
Scott's attorney, Kent Schaffer, spoke after the grand jury's decision, saying he has sympathy for those who were killed, but that his client was not responsible.
"Bringing criminal charges against him will not ease their pain,” he said.
Schaffer said no one was ever able to articulate what the charges would be, but according to court documents, Scott was no billed on an involuntary homicide charge. He also said that Scott never formally testified but did an interview with police.
Robert Hilliard represents Ezra Blount, who died at the festival, and other victims. He released a statement after the grand jury's decision, saying the following:
“There is clear culpability and gross negligent conduct committed by these various civil defendants directly resulting in deaths and serious injury.
"Though disappointed the grand jury declined to find this conduct was criminal, Ezra Blount’s family will continue and wait for their day in court.
"A Harris County jury, once given an opportunity to see the damning evidence leading up to causing this tragedy, may very well return a record Texas verdict against these defendants.”
An attorney that represents hundreds of people who claim to have been hurt that night said the decision has nothing to do with the pending civil litigation.
"I'm a little disappointed. Travis Scott was at the forefront of the planning for this concert and the buck should stop with him. It doesn't affect the civil litigation that I'm handling. We move on we move forward. We're gonna be successful," Jesus Garcia said.
This is the grand jury document with the no-bills. We've removed pages that had personal information.
Astroworld Festival timeline
It was 9:38 p.m. when officials declared that a mass casualty event was happening. Shortly after the festival tragedy, KHOU 11 put together a timeline of events of that day from Houston Fire Department documents.
Astroworld Festival victims
Here’s what we know of those who died in the crowd surge at the Astroworld Festival.
We learned of the passing of 9-year-old Ezra Blount on Nov. 14, 2021. The family's attorney, Ben Crump, sent a statement announcing his death. Ezra had been on a ventilator and medically induced coma since he was severely injured at the concert.
Ezra's aunt had told us the child is an outgoing performer who loves to sing and dance. Travis Scott is his favorite rapper so his dad Treston took him to the concert.
Fourteen-year-old John Hilgert was a ninth-grade student from Memorial High School, according to Spring Branch ISD.
His family said he had a passion for baseball and golfing with his dad.
“John represented energy and caring love of being with his friends that has been so strongly expressed by so many since his passing. It’s impossible for our hearts to understand that we will never be with him again,” Dad Chris Hilgert said.
“The pain of our loss from our son John not making it home alive from an event such as this is intolerable. He was a beautiful young man who simply wanted to enjoy his first concert event with friends, whom he treasured spending time with more than anything else."
Brianna Rodriguez, 16, is a Houston resident who attended Heights High School in HISD.
Brianna performed with the dance team and was a member of the band.
Jake Jurinek, 20, died after attending the festival with Franco Patino, another one of the victims who died. The two were reportedly best friends, according to CBS Chicago.
Jurinek was a Naperville, Illinois, native and a student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
The Southern Illinoisan newspaper reported that Jurinek was studying advertising and journalism at the university and had designed posters and social media banners for athletics at SIU.
“We are brokenhearted to lose a member of the Saluki family, Jacob Jurinek, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane said in a statement. “Jacob was a creative, intelligent young man, with a promising career in journalism and advertising. As we mourn this loss in our community, we will keep Jacob’s family and friends in our thoughts.”
The University of Dayton confirmed mechanical engineering technology student Franco Patino, 21, was among those killed during Astroworld Festival.
Patino was a senior from Naperville, Illinois. He minored in human movement biomechanics.
According to school officials, he was a member of the Alpha Psi Lambda, a Hispanic interest fraternity. Patino was active in the campus Greek Life, as well as the local MEC community. He was a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at UD, participated in the ETHOS program, and was currently working in an engineering coop program in Mason, Ohio.
Axel Acosta Avila
Axel Acosta Avila, 21, loved rap music and traveled from Washington to attend Astroworld Festival.
Axel's father, Edgar, described him as a great kid, an excellent student and someone who loved his family dearly, especially his grandparents.
"He was trying to study and go to school to be an engineer ... computer programmer ... because he wanted to provide for his family," Edgar said. "He was the first grandkid, he was the oldest one. He always took care of his cousins and nieces.”
Tony Buzbee is representing the Acosta family in a lawsuit against Scott and several of the festival organizers.
Bharti Shahani, 22, died from injuries sustained at Astroworld Festival.
Shahani was a Texas A&M student who was taken to the ICU after being critically injured at the festival. She remained in ICU until she died on Nov. 11.
Shahani was an electronic systems engineering technology major and a Houston native, according to The Battalion, the A&M student newspaper.
Rudy Peña, a 23-year-old college student from Laredo, Texas, was killed in the crowd surge at Astroworld Festival, according to family members. They said he came to Houston for the concert with a group of friends.
"He was a people person," a friend said. "He introduced people to each other."
Madison Dubiski, 23, was a Cypress resident killed at Astroworld Festival.
Madison's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Their attorney's released the following statement:
"This tragedy was preventable. Madison’s family filed this lawsuit to make sure that the truth of what went so horrifically wrong at the Astroworld Festival is discovered. This lawsuit will make sure that those responsible are held fully accountable and that something like this never happens to another family," attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin said.
Danish Baig, 27, was trying to protect his fiancé from being trampled when he was fatally injured during Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival concert, according to his brother, Basil Baig.
"People were trampled, walked, and stomped on. My brother tried to save my sister in law from these horrendous acts that were being done to her in the process he lost his life. My brother Danish Baig a beautiful soul whos [sic] smile would light up the room and put everyone before himself. Last night he showed his courageous act to save my sister in law/his fiance [sic] from those horrendous things that were being done. I am lost of words and in true trauma from this event. I was there and i wasnt [sic] able to save my brother," Basil Baig said in a Facebook post.
Basil Baig said his brother was laid to rest on Nov. 8 in Colleyville, Texas.