Accident

Houston police chief reportedly warned Travis Scott about crowd before Astroworld

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner visited Travis Scott in his trailer to voice his concerns about “public safety” ahead of the deadly Astroworld concert, the chief announced Monday. 

“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,” Finner, who knows Scott personally, said in a statement on Twitter.

“I asked Travis Scott and his team to work with HPD 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.” 

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A person familiar with the interaction told the New York Times the chief’s concerns were specifically over the crowd’s energy and for months, concert organizers braced themselves for chaos, knowing the rap star’s crowds could be difficult to control. 

Dozens of officers from the Houston Police Department were added to the concert’s security team, along with additional private security hired by Live Nation, which organized the concert, the outlet reported. 

Finner had told Scott that very devoted fans, eager to finally see a live show following pandemic shutdowns, had massed for the Friday show at NRG Park, where eight people later died when a throng surged toward the stage.

News about Finner’s concerns comes as at least one concertgoer is suing Scott and the event’s promoters Live Nation and ScoreMore over the “predictable and preventable tragedy.” More lawsuits are expected.

The crowd watches as Travis Scott performs at Astroworld Festival at NRG park on Friday, Nov.  5, 2021.
The crowd watches as Travis Scott performs at Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.

“Defendants failed to properly plan and conduct the concert in a safe manner,” lawyers for Manuel Souza, who says he was injured in the mayhem, said in papers filed Saturday in Harris County District Court, Billboard reported.

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The suit, which seeks at least $1 million in damages, claims the show was unruly from the start, when anxious fans “breached a security gate around the park, stampeded into the premises and trampled over one another” just to get into the sold-out concert.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks at a press conference after several people died and scores were injured during a music festival the night before.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks at a press conference after several people died and scores were injured during a music festival the night before.

Scott has a history of inciting fans to ignore security and violently storm the stage — leading to him being arrested twice previously and sued.

He was charged over music festivals in Arkansas in 2017 and in Chicago in 2015 for whipping up hysteria and encouraging moshing that left a guard and concertgoers injured.

Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.
Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.

According to a police timeline of the evening, the concert didn’t end until nearly 40 minutes after authorities had declared a “mass casualty event,” the Times said.

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Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told the paper that the star and the concert organizers could have stepped in to stop the show sooner.

“The one person who can really call for and get a tactical pause when something goes wrong is that performer. They have that bully pulpit and they have a responsibility,” Peña told the paper in a telephone interview Sunday.

“If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, shut this thing down and turn on the lights until this thing gets corrected’ — and that coming from the person with the mic — I think could have been very helpful,” he added.

Scott said in an Instagram message that he was unaware how bad things had gotten in the crowd.

The rapper and Live Nation declined to respond to specific questions, but said they will cooperate with the probe.

Written by Yaron Steinbuch and Gabrielle Fonrouge 

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