Houston’s police chief says he expressed safety concerns to Travis Scott before the rapper performed at a sold-out music festival where eight people died and hundreds more were injured in a crush.
- Houston Police say they met with Travis Scott and expressed their concenrs ahead of the festival
- Houston’s Chief of Police says he had safety concerns about the festival where eight people were killed
- Fans were killed in a crush during Scott’s performance
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner did not elaborate on his specific safety concerns voiced on Friday at the Astroworld Festival, an event founded by Scott that was attended by about 50,000 people.
His department has launched a criminal investigation into what went wrong.
“I asked Travis Scott and his team to work with HPD (Houston Police Department) for all events over the weekend and to be mindful of his team’s social media messaging on any scheduled events,” Mr Finner said in a statement.
“The meeting was brief and respectful, and a chance for me to share my public safety concerns as Chief of Police.”
Representatives of Scott, who has said he was “absolutely devastated by what took place,” did not respond to an email from The Associated Press on Monday.
Houston police and fire department investigators said they would review video taken by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips from people at the show.
Investigators also plan to speak with Live Nation representatives, Scott and concertgoers, as well as examine the design of safety barriers and the use of crowd control at the event.
Live Nation said in a statement on Monday it had provided authorities with all the footage from surveillance cameras at the festival, and it had paused the removal of equipment at the request of investigators.
The promoter said full refunds would be offered to all attendees.
“It’s not the crowd’s fault at all, because there was no way you could even move,” 19-year-old attendee Ben Castro.
“It was just like a mass loss of control.”
He returned to the venue Monday to leave flowers at a makeshift memorial that included notes, T-shirts and candles.
He said he did not know anyone had died until the next day.
The victims were aged between 14 and 27 and included high school students, an aspiring Border Patrol agent and a computer science student.
Medical examiners have not released the causes of death, the investigation of which could take several weeks, according to Michele Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
More than 300 people were treated at a field hospital on site and at least 13 people remained hospitalised on Sunday.
More than a dozen lawsuits had been filed as of Monday, and Live Nation announced it was delaying ticket sales for a Billy Joel concert at a different venue in Houston.
Contemporary Services Corp was responsible for security staff at the festival, according to county records in Texas.
Company representatives have not responded to emails and phone messages seeking comment.
Astroworld’s organisers had laid out security and emergency medical response protocols in festival plans filed with Harris County.
A 56-page operations plan obtained by AP says: “The potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns”.
None of the people listed in as being in charge of managing Astroworld’s security and operations have responded to requests for comment.
Steven Adelman, vice-president of the industry group Event Safety Alliance — which was formed after a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in 2011, killing seven people — helped write current industry guidelines.
Mr Adelman said investigators would consider whether there were enough security personnel at the festival, noting a nationwide shortage of people willing to take low-wage, part-time security jobs.
“Security obviously was unable to stop people. Optically, that’s really bad looking,” he said.
“But as for what it tells us, it’s too early to say.”
He also said authorities would consider whether something incited the crowd besides Scott taking the stage.
On a video posted to social media, Scott is seen stopping the concert at one point and asking for aid for someone in the audience: “Security, somebody help real quick.”