Police in Houston have launched a criminal investigation as they try to solve the mystery of how eight people ended up dead and others injured at a sold-out concert on Saturday.
“This is now a criminal investigation that’s going to involve our homicide division as well as narcotics, and we’re going to get down to the bottom of it,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner at news conference.
The deaths varied in age from children to adults, according to the Washington Post. It was the first night of Travis Scott’s Astroworld Fest when tragedy struck. The evening ended with eight people dead and several others injured, according to authorities. An estimated 50,000 concertgoers were in attendance at the Houston music festival, noted the Houston Chronicle, with the bulk of the injuries occurring in what officials are calling a “crowd surge” while the artist was on stage.
“I’m absolutely devastated by what happened last night,’’ the rapper said in a tweet.
In a video obtained by The U.S. Sun, the rapper Travis Scott can be heard saying to security “Somebody help him, somebody has passed out right here.”
Other videos surfacing show disturbing footage of fans jumping onto police vehicles as officials moved into the crowd to offer aid to those injured or passed out. According to CNN, the crowd surged “toward the stage, crushing those at the front who were unable to escape.”
In a press conference Friday night, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña reported that “scores of people were injured.”
“The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” the fire chief said. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Ultimately, the panic triggered a “mass casualty” event, with 17 people in total being transported to the hospital, 11 of which were in cardiac arrest. Several others were treated on site, where a field hospital had been set up at NRG Park, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The festival calls to mind other similar instances, such as The Who’s 1979 Cincinnati concert where 11 people died, and dozens of others were left injured, leaving us all wondering, just what is it about the concert environment that turns an otherwise friendly event into a stage set for mayhem?
A source close to concert staff confirmed to Variety that teams are working with officials to provide drone and ground footage to aid in the investigation. The source also confirms an investigation into claims of a drug spiking incident on concert grounds.
The festival has since shared a statement to their social media accounts that reads in part, “Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight — especially those we lost and their loved ones.” The post also asks that anyone with information reach out to the Houston police department.
Many celebrities were also in attendance at last night’s festival, including Drake who at one point during the concert shared the stage with Scott. People reports Scott’s partner, Kylie Jenner who is currently pregnant with their second child was also present. It is uncertain if their 3 year old daughter Stormi was on site.
Originally scheduled as a two day music festival, Saturday’s events, which included a lineup of Bad Bunny and Earth Wind and Fire, have now been cancelled.
We send our love out to those impacted by this tragedy, and hope that the investigation brings clarity around what took place.