The eight casualties and hundreds of injuries sustained by concertgoers at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston on Friday night were a “predictable and preventable” occurrence, according to one of a growing number of lawsuits filed against Scott. Guest star Drake and the event’s producers are also named in suits by multiple injured parties—with focus on what attorneys allege to be a pattern of “express encouragement of violence” on the part of Scott that “has previously resulted in serious violence at numerous past concerts.”
Per People magazine:
Injured concertgoer Manuel Souza filed a petition Saturday in Harris County District Court against Scott, 30, over the “predictable and preventable” tragedy that unfolded, according to court documents obtained by People.
He’s seeking at least $1,000,000 in damages and also asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent any destruction of evidence. The lawsuit also names Live Nation, organizer ScoreMore, Scott’s Cactus Jack Records and several others.
“Tragically, due to Defendants’ motivation for profit at the expense of concertgoers’ health and safety, and due to their encouragement of violence, at least 8 people lost their lives and scores of others were injured at what was supposed to be a night of fun,” Souza’s lawsuit reads, noting that the plaintiff “suffered serious bodily injuries when the uncontrolled crowd at the concert knocked him to the ground and trampled him.”
Specifically, eight attendees—John Hilgert, 14; Brianna Rodriguez, 16; Franco Patino, 21; Jacob Jurinek, 20; Axel Acosta, 21; Rodolfo Peña, 23; Madison Dubiski, 23 and Danish Baig, 27 (h/t ABC13)—were killed during the “crowd surge” that took place at NRG Park in Scott’s native Houston, attended by over 50,000 fans. As a result of the surge, 25 Astroworld audience members were hospitalized while over 300 more were treated at the festival’s field hospital for minor injuries, according to the Guardian.
While Scott, born Jacques Bermon Webster II, reportedly did call for medical attention for a passed out audience member at one point during his performance, the rapper has been excoriated for not stopping the performance immediately. Another lawsuit, filed in Houston by 23-year-old Kristian Paredes, who reported being “severely injured” during the crush, claims that not only did Scott not stop the show, but further encouraged the chaos with help from rapper Drake, who joined him onstage.
From the Guardian:
Paredes, a Texas resident who is also suing Live Nation and the venue, “felt an immediate push” at the front of the general admission section as Scott got on stage, the complaint says.
“The crowd became chaotic and a stampede began. Many begged security guards hired by Live Nation Entertainment for help, but were ignored.”
The lawsuit, filed in Harris county court in Houston, claims Scott “had incited mayhem and chaos at prior events” and “defendants knew or should have known of [Scott’s] prior conduct”.
It accuses the Canadian rapper Drake, who joined Scott’s headline set, of contributing to causing the surge towards the stage.
“As Drake came onstage alongside Travis Scott he helped incite the crowd even though he knew of Travis Scott’s prior conduct,” the complaint says.
He continued to perform even as the “crowd became out of control” and the “crowd mayhem continued”, it adds.
Scott’s aforementioned “prior conduct” includes his 2015 arrest for disorderly conduct in Chicago “after encouraging fans at Lollapalooza to climb over security barricades and rush the stage,” People notes. Scott was charged a second time in 2017 for “inciting a riot, disorderly conduct and endangering the welfare of a minor” at an Arkansas concert, and ultimately pled guilty to disorderly conduct in February 2018.
Souza’s suit points out that “the same ‘bum rushing’ phenomenon” occurred at the 2019 Astroworld Festival. “Yet Defendants made the conscious decision to let the show to go on, despite the extreme risks of harm to concertgoers,” it adds.
“This kind of behavior has long been encouraged by [Astroworld’s] founder and main performer, Defendant Jacques Webster a/k/a Travis Scott,” the claim continues. “Scott actively encourages his fans to ‘rage’ at his concerts. His express encouragement of violence has previously resulted in serious violence at numerous past concerts.”
A six-month-old tweet from Scott was also cited in the suit as further incriminating evidence of the rapper’s alleged proclivity for chaos at his performances. “WE STILL SNEAKING THE WILD ONES IN. !!!!!!” he wrote.
Neither Scott nor Live Nation responded to People’s request for comment, but the rapper issued an online apology on Saturday, offering prayers to the victims and thanks to NRG Parks and the Houston police and fire departments. Stating that he was “absolutely devastated by what took place,” Scott added that he was “committing to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”
In a Saturday night Instagram Story, Scott added that he’s “working right now to identify the families to assist them through this tough time” (h/t People). “My fans really mean the world to me, and I always want to leave them with a positive experience,” he added. Additional reports have noted that all concertgoers will be refunded (h/t the Independent).
Scott’s partner Kylie Jenner, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, was escorted from a VIP tent as the chaos escalated—after reportedly posting and Instagram Story which included footage of ambulances moving through the crowd in seeming promotion of the event. As reports of deaths surfaced on Sunday, she wrote on Instagram: “I want to make it clear we weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show and in no world would have continued filming or performing.”
“Travis and I are broken and devastated. My thoughts and prayers are with all who lost their lives, were injured, or affected in any way by yesterday’s events,” she added. Another source told People “Scott was unaware of the magnitude of the situation” as he performed, adding: “The lights were shining in his eyes and he couldn’t see what was happening...He thought someone had just passed out, which happens during concerts.”
However, according to the New York Post, Scott was warned well ahead of the performance by personal acquaintance and Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, who reportedly visited Scott in his trailer to express concerns about the size of the crowd.
“A police spokeswoman declined to comment to the newspaper about the chief’s private conversations, citing the pending probe into the tragedy,” the Post reported. According to an official statement released by Finner on Saturday, the tragedy has now prompted a criminal investigation, including homicide and narcotics agents.
“He and those who promoted and supported this concert must take responsibility for their heinous actions,” said Souza’s attorney Steve Kherkher, in a statement to People. “We intend to hold them fully accountable by showing that this behavior will not be tolerated in our great city.”