Shortly after Scott’s performance began around 9p.m. on Friday evening crowds began surging close to the stage, leading to chaos amongst fans, according to Houston police and fire officials. “The crowd for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said during a Saturday morning press conference. “They were unable to escape that situation.”
Peña suggested that moving forward the investigation will focus on “what caused, one, the issue of the crowd surge, and two, what prevented people from being able to escape that situation.”
In addition to the chaos caused by the surging crowds, TMZ also reported that someone was allegedly “injecting” festival attendees with drugs during Scott’s set, potentially leading to the surge, though these reports remain unverified. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner responded to these rumors saying: “I’m going to hold any sort of conclusion pending a thorough review and investigation… I don’t even want to go to drug overdoses. We are looking at all potential causes of this incident or what caused the cardiac arrest. We’re not taking anything off the table.”
Fans present at the festival have since reported that they attempted to communicate with members of festival staff and crew, but were ignored altogether, or in some cases even mocked by staff. Some attendees even when so far as to climb the risers to plead with Apple TV film crews to stop the concert. According to an official timeline released on Saturday, Houston police declared that the mass casualty event occurred at 9:38 p.m. though Scott continued to perform until 10:10 p.m..
In a video posted on Reddit, Scott can be seen noticing at least one unconscious fan being removed from the crowd before stopping the music and alerting the crew. “Somebody needs help, somebody passed out right here,” he can be heard saying in the video. “Can somebody help jump in real quick, c’mon c’mon.”
By the time the show was completely halted by authorities and organizers, “the damage had been done” said Peña. The second day of the Astroworld Festival was cancelled following the tragedy.
There are currently eight known casualties as a result of Friday night’s tragedy. While the names of the victims are slowly being revealed, the ages of the victims have been confirmed by police to be 14, 16, 21, 21, 23, 23, 27, as well as one victim whose age remains unknown.
The youngest victim’s name was John Hilgert who, according to the Houston Chronicle, attended the concert with 15-year-old Robby Hendrix. Hendrix’s mother, Tracy Faulkner, purchased the tickets as a birthday gift.
“Everything about that night was a tragedy,” Faulkner said. “John was a good student and athlete and so polite. He was the sweetest and smartest young man.”
Other named victims included 23-year-old Rodolfo Angel Peña, an aspiring model and psychology student from Laredo, Texas, and 21-year-old Franco Patino, a biomedical engineering student at the University of Dayton, Ohio.
In addition to the tragedy’s casualties, more than 300 other Astroworld festival-goers were injured as a result of the incident with 23 people being taken to local hospitals, 11 of which remain in critical condition, including a 10-year-old boy.