What happened at Astroworld? Travis Scott festival deaths explained - and who were victims of crush tragedy

The youngest victim of the concert crowd surge incident has been named as nine-year-old Ezra Blount

Travis Scott, Drake and Astroworld organisers are facing multiple lawsuits following the events of the Friday 5 November concert which has left at least 10 festival-goers dead and many more injured.

This is everything you need to know about what happened.

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What happened?

On 5 November, at least 50,000 people gathered in Houston, Texas, for rapper Travis Scott’s two day Astroworld festival, which would turn out to be one of the deadliest music events in US history.

At least 10 people died as a result of a “crowd surge”, with many more sustaining injuries. Officials transported 17 audience members to the hospital, with 11 in cardiac arrest.

Concerns about overcrowding were raised early in the day, with reports of people hopping turnstiles and fences in order to attend the sold out festival without tickets.

According to the Houston Chronicle, which has reviewed videos and social media concerning the festival, audience members had begun to collapse by 9:39pm. Soon after this point, the show’s promoter agreed to halt the performance - however, Scott continued on to complete his set at 10:15pm.

Travis Scott performing in Las Vegas during a stop of his Astroworld: Wish You Were Here tour (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Additional analysis by the Washington Post also found that the concert seemed to continue for an hour after it first appeared that audience members were in distress.

Footage taken by audience members has circulated online, with a number of videos showing the crowd attempting to stop the show.

In one video, a woman can be seen climbing onto a camera platform, shouting: “Someone’s dying in there!”. A man can be seen following her, shouting: “Stop the show! Stop the show!”, however their calls appear to be ignored and instead they are ushered off the platform.

At one point, Scott points out an audience member that needs help, saying: “Don’t touch him, don’t touch him, everybody just back up.

“Security, somebody help, jump in real quick.”

Scott quickly continues the concert afterwards, and at another point in the show can be heard saying: “Who asked me to stop? You all know what you came here to do.”

Travis Scott performing at the Astroworld Festival in 2019 (Photo: SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images)

Additional footage of the concert shows Scott on stage being approached by two men who appeared to be part of the crew but he quickly dismisses them before continuing onwards, telling the crowd that he wants them to make “the ground shake”.

According to ABC13 sources, Scott attended an after-party following his performance at Astroworld.

The rapper was reportedly unaware of the tragedy that had occurred at the festival, and sources claimed that as soon as he found out, he left the party.

Another source told TMZ: “Travis didn’t know the severity of the situation when he arrived at the party, as far as timing, this remains consistent with the fact that no one, including the police, had publicly confirmed the gravity of events that had taken place.”

Who died?

At least 10 concert-goers who attended the festival have died. The latest, and youngest, to die from injuries sustained at the festival is nine-year-old Ezra Blount, who had previously been placed in a medically induced coma at the hospital.

According to a lawsuit filed by Ezra’s family against Scott and festival organiser Live Nation, the nine-year-old suffered from severe damage to his brain, kidney and liver, after he was “kicked, stepped on and trampled, and nearly crushed to death”.

Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, tweeted that he was “saddened” to learn of Ezra’s death.

He wrote: “I am saddened to learn of Ezta’s death this evening. Our city tonight prays for his mom, dad, grandparents, other family members and classmates at this time.

“They will need all of our support in the months and years to come. May God give them strength. RIP Ezra.”

The Blount family lawyer, Ben Crump, said: “This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration. Ezra’s death is absolutely heartbreaking.”

Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old student studying at Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University, was severely injured at the festival, and has since been declared brain dead. She had attended the concert with her sister and her cousin, however they got separated during the chaos.

Mohit Bellani, Bharti’s cousin, told ABC that she had lost oxygen for several minutes which medical staff said led to her brain stem swelling. She currently remains on a ventilator.

Mohit said: “Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other.

“There were like layers of bodies on the ground, like two people thick. We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive.”

A memorial to those who died at the Astroworld festival is displayed outside of NRG Park (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

John Hilgert, who was just 14-years-old, was one of the youngest of those who died. He was a freshman at Memorial High School.

On Saturday, Memorial High School Principal Lisa Wier sent out a letter to parents of children at the school informing them of his death.

Her letter said: “We are deeply saddened to inform you that a male ninth grade student died ... in an incident at the Astroworld Festival. Our hearts go out to the student’s family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial.

“This is a terrible loss, and the entire MHS family is grieving today.”

Brianna Rodriguez, 16, was a junior at Heights High School in Houston according to a verified GoFundMe page created by her family.

The description said: “Dancing was her passion and now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates.”

Attends a makeshift memorial has been created at the NRG Park grounds where eight people died in a crowd surge at the Astroworld Festiva; (Photo: THOMAS SHEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Franco Patino, 21, was a senior at the University of Dayton, studying mechanical engineering technology and human movement biomechanics.

His family said in a statement: “He was loved by so many because of the loyal, loving, selfless, protective, funny, and caring person he was.

“Even though he was a hardworking individual, he would always try and make time for his family and the people he cared about. We will miss the big heart Franco had and his passion for helping others.”

Danish Baig, 27, is believed to have died trying to save his fiancée according to his brother, Basil Baig.

Speaking to CNN, Basil said: “People would admire him for who he was.”

Jacob Jurinek, 20, was an Illinois college student, studying journalism. In a statement from the university, SIU Chancellor Austin Lane said that he was “a creative, intelligent young man, with a promising career in journalism and advertising”.

A street sign showing the cancellation of the AstroWorld Festival (Photo: Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Rodolfo Peña, 23, was a student at Laredo College, and his friend Stacey Sarmiento described him as someone who “brought happiness anywhere he went”.

Axel Acosta, 21, was a Western Washington University student studying computer science. Speaking to local media, his family said that he had gone to the show alone and it was the first music festival that he had ever attended.

Madison Dubiski, 23, was a University of Mississippi student who had attended the concert with her brother Ty. The two were separated during the crowd rush.

Speaking to the Houston Chronicle, Madison’s former classmate, Lauren Vogler, said: “She was super bright, uplifting, and just an all-around sweet girl.

“She was definitely the life of the party and loved by so many people.”

What has Travis Scott said?

Following the event, Scott issued a statement on Twitter stating that he was “absolutely devastated” by what had happened.

He wrote: “I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night.

“My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.

“Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life.

“I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.

“Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department and NRG Park for their immediate response and support.”

Many replied to his statement on the social media platform to say that the rapper knew what was going on yet refused to stop the concert.

One person wrote: “Everyone was yelling to stop and you still continued with the show, how can you explain this bro?”

Another tweeted: “There’s a literal video of you singing while you’re literally looking at someone passed out, any decent artist would of stopped the show. It’s not that hard to be a decent human being, but yeah, a notes apology fixed everything.”

“My son was at the bottom of one of the human piles. He was crushed. While he survived, many around him did not. They were all screaming for help and to stop the show. You did not and you, the crew, venue and promoters will be held responsible,” wrote another.

Scott has since gone on to say in a statement that he will pay the funeral costs for the victims who died, as well as offering mental health support to this traumatised by the events.

A note is left next to flowers and candles at a memorial to those who died at the Astroworld festival (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The press release said: “[Travis Scott] will cover all funeral costs and provide further aid for individuals affected by the November 5th tragedy at Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas.

“In addition, Travis has partnered with BetterHelp to supply free one-on-one online therapy, and is working closely with [National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America National, and Mental Health America of Greater Houston] to direct all those in need to proper mental health services.

“Travis remains in active conversations with the city of Houston, law enforcement and local first responders to respectfully and appropriately connect with the individuals and families of those involved.

“These are the first of many steps Travis plans on taking as a part of his personal vow to assist those affected throughout their grieving and recovery process.”

Scott has also announced that all Astroworld Festival 2021 tickets will be refunded

What has Drake said?

Rapper Drake, who joined Scott on stage to perform during the set, largely remained quiet for the first few days following the tragedy.

On Tuesday (9 November), he broke his silence with a statement saying that he has spent the past couple of days trying to “wrap” his mind around the “devastating tragedy”.

He wrote on Instagram: “I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy.

“I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself.

“My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering.

“I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can.

“May God be with you all.”

The rapper has since gone on to post on Instagram as normal, sharing pictures and videos of life, something which has drawn criticisms from commenters on the social media platform.

On Sunday 14 November, he posted a picture of himself writing in a notebook with the caption “Love Poetry”.

In response, one person wrote: “Are you writing an apology to the parents of the children you let die at that concert?”

Another commented: “What a f**k. You writing poetry while people are at their children’s memorial service cuz you didn’t stop the f**king show.”

What have authorities said?

On Saturday, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said that the investigation into the tragedy would include both the homicide and narcotics divisions.

Narcotics bureau agents are involved in the investigation due to reports that a security guard may have been injected drugs.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said: “We do have a report of a security officer, according to the medical staff that was out and treated him last night, that he was reaching over to restrain or grab a citizen and he felt a prick in his neck.

“When he was examined he went unconscious. They administered Narcan. He was revived and the medical staff did notice a prick that was similar to a prick that you would get if someone is trying to inject.”

However the security guard later retracted his concerns about being injected.

Finner said: “If you can remember, members of the medical team in the medical tent had said that a male security guard had come in and said that somebody had pricked his neck.

““We felt that it could have been something ingested. We did locate this security guard. His story’s not consistent with that.

“He says he was struck in his head; he went unconscious; he woke up in the security tent. He says that no one injected drugs into him. So we want to clear that part up.”

In a later statement posted by Houston Police on Twitter, Finner said: “I met with Travis Scott and his head of security for a few moments last Friday prior to the main event.

“I expressed my concerns regarding public safety and that in my 31 years of law enforcement experience I have never seen a time with more challenges facing citizens of all ages, to include a global pandemic and social tension throughout the nation.

“I ask Travis Scott and his team to work with [Houston Police Department] for all events over the weekend and to be mindful of his team’s social media messaging on any unscheduled events.

“The meeting was brief and respectful, and a chance for me to share my public safety concerns as Chief of Police.

“As I have previously stated, our criminal investigation continues.

“We are asking for everyone to be considerate of the grieving families during this incredibly difficult time.

“Please continue to life them up in prayer.”

Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena speaks at a press conference following the Astroworld tragedy (Photo: Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena described the event as “a tragic night”, telling reporters: “We had at least eight confirmed fatalities tonight and scores of individuals that were injured.

“At approximately 9.15pm the crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries.

“People began to fall out and become unconscious and it created additional panic.”

Pena said 17 people were taken to hospital and 11 were in cardiac arrest.

Is Travis Scott being sued?

Scott, Drake, and the organisers behind the Astroworld event are facing over 20 lawsuits over the incident.

Tony Buzbee, a Houston-based lawyer, announced on Monday (8 November) that his firm will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of 25 plaintiffs over the “gross negligence” that allowed the tragedy to occur.

Buzbee said that the lawsuit is being filed against Scott and the event promoters and management, which includes Live Nation, for not implementing the correct security and emergency response measures.

Candles, flowers and letters placed at a memorial outside of the canceled Astroworld festival at NRG Park (Photo: Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

One of the families Buzbee is representing in the suit is that of Axel Acosta, the 21-year-old victim who had attending the concert with his brother.

Buzbee said in a news conference: “They did not have the right equipment. [Alex] did not need to die.

“It was pure and utter chaos.”

Kristian Parades, 23, has filed for damages worth $1 million for the injuries he claims he sustained during the concert as he too accused Scott and Drake of negligence.

Scott and concert organisers Live Nation have also been sued by Patrick Stennis and Manuel Souza.

What happened at previous Travis Scott concerts?

This isn’t the first time that a concert by Scott has gotten out of control.

In 2017, Scott was arrested after a show in Arkansas, where he was charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, and endangering the welfare of a minor. He pled guilty to disorderly conduct in a reported deal with prosecutors in order to avoid more serious charges.

In the incident, a security guard, police officer and a number of others all sustained injuries.

Travis Scott performing during the halftime show of Super Bowl (Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Also in 2017, one of Scott’s concerts in Manhattan became so unruly that a fan fell off a balcony and was left paralyzed.

A few years earlier, in 2015, Scott was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct following his Lollapalooza set which lasted only five minutes after it had to be shut down.

Footage from the concert showed Scott encouraging fans to climb over the security barricades, starting a chant of “We want rage!”

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