Houston — As his musical career progressed, Travis Scott built more relationships than usual between rap megastars and his hometown leader. He knew the Houston police chief. His mother handed out turkeys with the Mayor of Thanksgiving. He received the city key.
These connections have already been carried about the deaths of eight young concert attendees who collapsed when the crowd surged towards the stage while Scott was playing Friday night at the Astroworld Festival in Houston. Added a layer of complexity to the criminal investigation.
According to city officials, Houston police officers, as employees of the event organizer, provided security both 24 hours a day and in the moonlight. Currently, the same police station and city fire department are in charge of the investigation.
Among the questions that touched on the role of local police was when and how to suspend the performance by Scott, who had been showing for about 40 minutes since the city declared “massive casualties.” There was a decision to do it. At a concert.
On Tuesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner met with senior officials from both agencies and his office unveiled a collection of permits issued by the city for the festival. “The stones won’t stay spinning,” the mayor told reporters at an unrelated event. “How did that happen? Where did the failure occur? Who dropped the ball?”
At the same time, at a County Commission meeting, Houston County Chief Executive Lina Hidalgo reiterated her keen interest in seeing an independent investigation of the dead.
However, county investigations can be difficult to pursue. According to someone who is directly aware of the discussion about an independent investigation that demanded anonymity to share details of personal conversations, a criminal investigation announced by county police chief Troy Finaler did what the county did. Limited ability to do. Immediately after the concert. Hidalgo is considering bringing in an outside law firm and other third-party investigators.
“Judge Hidalgo is very keen to understand what could have been done if he could have prevented this tragedy from happening by scrutinizing every aspect of what happened,” said Hidalgo. Rafael Lumitle, his spokesman, said. He added that she “a calm and objective analysis of what went wrong” and wants to see what can be done better in the future.
Secretary Finner said on Saturday that there was a discussion between police and fire authorities, promoters and venue representative NRG Park on the best way to end the concert early. He said they were afraid to cause a “riot.”
“If you have 50,000 or more than 50,000 individuals, you just can’t close them,” said Chief Finale. “I think that part was pretty good.”
On Monday, the Chief Finner addressed a report at the New York Times that he visited a musician on his trailer before his show to express his concerns about the crowd.
“I have expressed concern about public security,” said the chief, who knows Scott personally. In a statement posted on Twitter“The meeting was concise and respectful,” he added.
As of Tuesday, city investigators seemed to be conducting their own investigations. The FBI’s local branch has offered help, but Houston police haven’t asked for help, a spokesman for the agency said. State police are not involved in the investigation.
It was not clear what criminal activity the Houston police were investigating on Tuesday. Victor Senties, a department spokesman, refused to answer the question.
The cause of death for eight people between the ages of 14 and 27 who were killed during the concert has not yet been identified. A county coroner said it could take a few more weeks.
Criminal liability can be difficult to assign in large-scale events where witnesses describe a surge in crowds that have crushed and trampled unconscious people on the floor. More than 300 people were injured, including a 9-year-old boy in a medically induced coma.
Stephen Adelman, Lawyer and Vice President of the Event Safety Alliance, an industry group focused on safety at live events, said: ..
“At this very early stage, there is no evidence of criminal liability,” he said, but added a warning that many remain unknown.
Dozens of civil lawsuits have been filed by injured concert attendees and families whose loved ones have been killed.
Tony Buzbee, a lawyer representing one victim’s family, Axel Acosta, has established a timeline to show that festival organizers and guards have lost control from the moment the event gates opened on Friday. He said.
Mr Busby also asked whether the police station could be expected to conduct an impartial investigation given the role of police officers in the case. “The Houston police station will be coming out and not looking good, it’s clear,” he said. “How many entities can properly investigate themselves?”
The turmoil at the event was foreseen by the organizers and the city after being stamped during the 2019 Astroworld event, injuring at least three people. This year, security has been strengthened, police presence has increased, and fencing has been strengthened.
Still, many in the city saw the event and Scott (born Jack B. Webster) had a positive view. The musician spent the days leading up to this year’s festival traveling around Houston for community events with his charity.
Named after Scott’s album, the festival reminds the Houston people of nostalgia and revives the name of a popular amusement park where they spent their day as kids on the Texas Cyclone and Gree’s Lightnin roller coasters. I did.
“When I heard that Travis Scott was doing this kind of event, that memory came back,” said Dwight Boykins, a former city council member who knew Scott’s father. “He was trying to regain joy and happiness. That’s what I expected.”
In 2018, after the first Astroworld Festival, Mayor Turner declared November 18th to be “Astroworld Day”.
The following year, Turner and Scott appeared on stage at Astroworld, presenting him with the keys to the city. The mayor said Scott’s festival urged him to try to create a new permanent amusement park, like the old one.
“I am very grateful to this guy for putting Houston on the map,” he said at the time. “This city loves you.”