An investigation into the Astroworld tragedy could take weeks, Harris County leaders say

County Judge Lina Hidalgo warned that completing the toxicology reports alone would take weeks.

Harris County Commissioners Court on June 29, 2021.

Harris County leaders are seeking answers in the aftermath of Friday's tragedy at Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert, but the investigation could take weeks to announce any findings, commissioners said Tuesday.

Commissioners are working on determining a path for "an independent, objective assessment" of what caused the concert disaster, according to Harris County Judge Hidalgo. But she warned that finding answers would take time.

"I do want to set expectations," she said. "It's better to have answers — thorough answers — than quick answers and the wrong answers."

Hidalgo added that obtaining toxicology reports could take weeks.

The county judge started Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting with a moment of silence to mourn the victims and pray for those still in the hospital. She followed by paying tribute to those killed and injured in the concert disaster.

"It's an unspeakable tragedy," Hidalgo said. "I know that it's hard for people to move on from this without answers...and I know there is an urge to understand what's going on, and so we're working on that as we speak.”

The Houston Police Department is overseeing a separate, criminal investigation of the disaster, and more than two dozen lawsuits have already been filed, with at least one naming the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation as a defendant. The corporation, a component of the Harris County government, oversees and operates NRG Park, where the Astroworld festival took place.

“I do think it's important that we show empathy, that we're sensitive to the issue, but we also look at what changes ought to be made going forward and look at best practices around the country,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

Ellis added that he agreed the emphasis ought to be on accuracy over speed in trying to determine the causes of the tragedy.

"I do think it's important that we get answers, but we do it in a timely, methodical way," Ellis said.

One counterpoint came from Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, who emphasized the need for accurate answers for the victims’ family members but said “time is of the essence.” Of the five members of commissioners court, only Commissioner Jack Cagle had no comment.

Commissioner Adrian Garcia stressed his own experience overseeing large-crowd events in the past, during his time as a Houston police officer and Harris County sheriff, implying responsibility for the disaster on the part of private security for the event.

"At some point, whoever is in charge of safety and security has to make it very clear to the promoter that that's what they're in charge of," Garcia said. "They're not there to sell tickets. They're not there to have a record crowd. They're not there to make it easy for profit to take place. They're there to make sure that the event happens safely."

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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