Rapper Travis Scott said he is “absolutely devastated” after a crowd surge during his sold-out Astroworld music festival in Houston left eight people dead and numerous others injured.
“My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival,” he said in a tweet on Saturday. “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,” he added.
The events unfolded Friday at around 9:15 p.m. local time (10:15 p.m. ET) when “the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage,” Fire Chief Samuel Peña said at a news conference early Saturday.
“That caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries. People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic,” he said, adding that a cause of death was not yet known for the eight victims but would be determined.
Seventeen people were transported to hospitals after the crush, and 11 who were taken by ambulance were in cardiac arrest, officials said. They added that more than 300 people were treated throughout the event Friday at an on-site field hospital.
Around 50,000 people were at the event at NRG Park, which was hosted by Scott. The festival, which is in its third year, kicked off Friday and was expected to be a two-day event, but officials said Saturday’s lineup had been canceled.
One festivalgoer, Colin Green, said the crowd began to push back and forth during a countdown around 8:30 p.m.
“I couldn’t even stand or breathe or anything, and I’m six feet tall and I was having to look up to the sky just to breathe before the show even started,” he told NBC News. “As the countdown was going to zero, it didn’t make it through one full song before people just started collapsing and falling back.”
Green, who was at the show with his brothers, said roughly 30 of them were “dogpiled” on each other and screaming for help.
“People at the bottom were definitely suffocating,” he said.
The 16-year-old said he was in the pile for about 15 minutes.
“I got bruises on me, my thumb is still numb,” he said. “I thought I was going to die. It was literally like survival of the fittest. There was no escape. I’ve never seen grown men fighting for their life like that.”
Green was able to slip out of the pile and get to safety. He said he saw two or three bodies on the ground and heard others screaming, ‘Help. I don’t want to die.'”
The crowd was so rowdy that Green’s brother, Tyler, said his girlfriend had a panic attack and they moved to a less congested area before the shoving began.
“You were at the discretion of where the crowd was pushing you,” Tyler Green, 22, said. “My girlfriend wasn’t able to handle that, so we left.”
Alleighya Odom, 21, was also at the concert and told NBC News that the tightly packed crowd “was like this force on my back, this continuous force.”
“It was scary, like, genuinely,” she said.
“I started looking around, and there’s people on the ground. There’s people looking at me, like, scared, eyes wild, like, ‘Please help me,'” she continued. “There’s people behind me crying because they’re being stepped on.”
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Odom, who has been going to Astroworld since 2018, said she moved to a less crowded area because she has a broken ankle and feared injuring it further.
She added that she had not realized the severity of the situation until she saw frantic messages from her mother asking if she was safe.
“It’s just crazy,” she said.
Scott had stopped the show multiple times to request assistance for fans, she added.
Footage posted on social media also showed the rapper pausing his performance, and The Houston Chronicle reported the artist halted his act a number of times throughout the show after spotting fans in distress near the stage.
The rapper’s girlfriend Kylie Jenner, who is pregnant with their second child, was at the concert with her sister, Kendall Jenner. They both shared videos to their Instagram Story of Scott performing for the packed crowd before the crowd surge. Neither one has publicly commented on the chaotic events.
Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was near the front of the concert, told a news conference the situation had developed quickly.
“It seems like it happened with just over the course of a few minutes — suddenly we had several people down on the ground experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” he said. “We immediately started doing CPR.”
At a later news conference, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said there were “a lot of rumors going around” about the incident, including “rumors of people injecting some people with drugs.”
Urging people not to speculate, he said police were determined to “make sure we find out what happened,” adding that Scott and the festival organizers were cooperating with police.
Earlier in the day, multiple people were injured as festivalgoers rushed a front entrance, NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston reported.
Odom said she felt it was “the first sign” of chaos to come at the show.
“As soon as people started running in I was like, ‘Oh, no … this is going to be crazy,'” she said. “And the way people were running in, it was just really violent. They were ripping off wristbands off people in the line.”
Finner said the deaths and injuries were not connected with that entrance being rushed, as the crush at the concert happened much later.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said some as young as 10 years old had been transported to hospital.
“Our hearts are broken,” she 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.”
The Astroworld Festival organizers said in a Facebook post that their hearts were with “those we lost and their loved ones.”
They said they were cooperating with police and encouraged anyone with information on what happened in the crowd to speak with authorities.
Gov. Greg Abbott said what happened at the festival was “tragic” and thanked first responders and good Samaritans for their assistance.
“The State of Texas is ready to assist in the response, and I have directed The Texas Department of Public Safety to make state resources available to support the investigation,” he wrote in a statement.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he has called for a “detailed briefing with all stakeholders,” including law enforcement, Live Nation and NRG Park, to find out how the festival “got out of control.”
“What happened at Astroworld Festival was a tragedy,” he wrote. “This was a major event that happened in the city and on Harris County property. Today, law enforcement will speak with concert promoters and witnesses and review videos available from the event and inside the festival venue.”
Scott, 29, is from Houston. He launched the Astroworld Festival in 2018 in his hometown as an annual event. The festival did not happen in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
His 2018 hit “Sicko Mode” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 that year. He has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards, including for that song and the album “Astroworld.”
Travis Scott says he’s ‘absolutely devastated’ after 8 people died following ‘panic’ at Houston Astroworld is written by Chantal Da Silva and Phil Helsel and Minyvonne Burke and Suzanne Ciechalski for www.nbcnews.com