8 dead, more than a dozen injured at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival

Those who died ranged in age from 14 to 27, officials said. The Houston Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into what caused the sold-out crowd to surge toward the stage, causing a panic.

Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP
Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston.

Updated 6:31 a.m. CT Monday

At least eight people are dead and more than a dozen injured after a sold-out Astroworld Festival crowd surged toward the stage during rapper Travis Scott’s set Friday night.

The ages of those killed range from 14 to 27, according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

A total of 25 people were hospitalized Friday night, and 13 remained in the hospital for treatment as of Saturday afternoon, including five people who are under the age of 18.

“Last night was tragic on many different levels," Turner said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. "This remains a very active investigation. There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered."

Police say they started to see people collapse around 9:30 that night, and reached out to organizers. But the concert didn't stop for about another 40 minutes.

Social media video showed concert-goers scrambling to help people and get the attention of staff. One video shows Scott himself notice someone in the crowd in trouble and calls for security.

Houston police have defended the gap in response time, arguing that abruptly stopping the show could have caused a riot.

The Houston Police Department's homicide and narcotics divisions are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the surge happened after 9 p.m. Friday, when the crowd of about 50,000 began to “compress” towards the stage. The surge caused a panic, and some people became unconscious, he said.

“This is a tragic night,” Peña said at a press conference early Saturday morning.

The show was eventually called off, and the second day of the festival was also canceled. A reunification center was set up at the Wyndham Hotel for people trying to locate loved ones.

The cause of death for the eight people was not immediately known and officials say they're waiting for the results from the medical examiner's office.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said that among those injured were children as young as 10.

“Our hearts are broken,” Hidalgo said. “People go to these events looking for a good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories. It’s not the kind of event you go to where you expect to find out about fatalities.”

In a video posted to Instagram, Scott said he was working closely with the authorities.

“My fans really mean the world to me, and I always just really want to leave them with a positive experience,” he said. “Any time I can make out, you know, anything that’s going on, I stop the show and, you know, help them get the help they need. You know, I could just never imagine the severity of the situation.”

Videos shared on social media show chaotic scenes with people shoving and calling for help.

In one, a woman is seen climbing up onto a riser and screaming to a cameraman that someone is dead. Another video shows paramedics carrying out a man who appears to be unconscious.

At least three lawsuits were announced through Monday morning, and more were expected in the coming days.

Sofia Gonzalez, a former Houston Public Media intern, was at the concert with her boyfriend. She said she had never been in such an aggressive crowd before.

"My feet weren’t even on the ground. I was being pushed everywhere. I was having to hold onto my friends for dear life," she said. "At the third song, my boyfriend and I were like, ‘we cannot stay in this crowd, we are going to pass out.’"

But Gonzalez said as they tried to leave people were calling them names and refusing to let them out. It wasn't until another attendee started blowing a whistle to help clear a space that they were able to find a path out.

"I was telling myself, ‘you’re going to be okay, just push through. You have to get out of this crowd,’" she said. "After we got out my boyfriend was over the railing for a good five minutes just catching his breath. It was insane."

Nineteen-year-old Luke McMahan said he was right in the middle of the packed crowd.

“We were so squished next to each other,” he said. “There was no way that you were moving. It was more side-to-side or jumping up and down. And people were literally punching each other in the face in the mosh pits.”

Festival goers are seen exiting NRG Park on day one of the Astroworld Music Festival on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Amy Harris / Invision / AP
Festival goers are seen exiting NRG Park on day one of the Astroworld Music Festival on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

His group was able to avoid getting hurt, but he said he witnessed one concert-goer that medical staff failed to resuscitate.

“It was really sad to see that,” he said. “it showed me reality. Like how quickly someone’s life can be like taken away.”

Efe Omafuaire, marketing coordinator for the Houston Hip-Hop Museum, told Houston Matters the crush began as some concertgoers pushed towards the stage while others pushed out.

He says it was like a “reverse stampede”

“There was a guy who was standing next to me, and he kinda, he just like fell down,” Omafuaire said. “Like, right next to me. Me and another guy, we picked him up, and put him on our shoulders and everything. We asked him if he was okay, and he was like, he’s good he’s good, and then he kept on, like, he fell back down again.”

In a statement released on its social media platforms Saturday morning, the Astroworld organizers said they're focused on helping local officials.

"Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight — especially those we lost and their loved ones," it read. "As authorities mentioned in their press conference earlier, they are looking into the series of cardiac arrests that took place. If you have any relevant information on this, please reach out to Houston Police. Thank you to our partners at the Houston Police Department, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their response and support."

Concert producer Live Nation also posted its own statement on Twitter.