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Travis Scott warned by Texas police chief about crowd hours before 8 died in Astroworld tragedy

The rapper played on for 40 minutes after cops alerted the organizers of the situation unfolding in the crowds.

Travis Scott warned by Texas police chief about crowd hours before 8 died in Astroworld tragedy
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Travis Scott attends the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on September 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MTV/ ViacomCBS)

Trigger warning: This story contains graphic images and descriptions that some readers may find distressing

Eight people died at the Astroworld music festival on Friday and the cops say the producers of the event took a whole 40 minutes before stopping the show in spite of being alerted of the dire situation. As fans moved towards the stage during Travis Scott's performance, people were being crushed and trampled upon, causing the deaths of eight people and injuring dozens more. Fans screamed for help and chanted "stop the show" as a stampede broke out but to no avail as Scott continued performing, reported BBC News. A few fans had even climbed onto a camera platform to alert the organizers. It's become one of the deadliest concerts in U.S. history and people are questioning the event producers for ignoring the warning signs that could have averted the tragedy. At least 12 lawsuits have reportedly been filed against Travis Scott and Astroworld organizers, citing his alleged history of "creating dangerous conditions" at concerts. 


Houston police and firefighters responded to a 'mass casualty' event at Travis Scott's packed Astroworld music festival at 9.30 p.m. and alerted the producers of the same. But Scott continued performing for 40 minutes more before winding up his set 15-20 minutes ahead of his advertised time. "Nine thirty, right there. That's when a few people started going down," said Houston police chief Troy Finner at a press conference on Saturday. "Our people stepped up and immediately went to the producers and told them, 'Hey, we got people going down.' This show ended at 10:10 pm. I just wanted to acknowledge that." 



Travis Scott is known to rile up crowds and incite dangerous behavior in the past and was even charged with disorderly conduct after encouraging fans in Chicago to ignore security and rush the stage in 2015. He also encouraged a fan, who was hanging from a venue's second-story balcony, to jump. Scott is one of the biggest names in rap music and the musician took to Instagram, posting a video stating that he didn't know how bad the situation was. "Any time I could make out anything that's going on, I just stopped the show and helped them get the help they need," said Scott. "I could just never imagine the severity of the situation."  



Security concerns
A security plan for the event identified concerns with regard to crowd control and evacuation. "Based on the site's layout and numerous past experiences, 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," read the document. The city's police chief paid Travis Scott a visit in his dressing room to warn about the crowd's energy. Video footage showed fans bursting through gates and bypassing security checkpoints.


Poor crowd management
Keith Still, a professor of crowd science at the University of Sussex, said the onus of anticipating an incident like this was on the event managers. "You need to anticipate that this type of performer in that type of environment will induce this type of behaviour in the crowd — and you put crowd management and monitoring systems in place to make sure that you've got an early warning indicator." He added that it's important for frontline staff to be installed at a raised position to see beyond the front section and also be backed up by CCTV footage to look for a change of expression in people's faces. "There's always going to be people screaming because they're having fun. The skill and the artform is looking at the faces and listening to the screams and saying, 'That's different. Things have changed,'" added Still. 

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 07: A visitor writes a note at a memorial outside of the canceled Astroworld festival at NRG Park on November 7, 2021 in Houston, Texas. According to authorities, eight people died and 17 people were transported to local hospitals after what was described as a crowd surge at the Astroworld festival, a music festival started by Houston-native rapper and musician Travis Scott in 2018. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)


Poor communication and decision making
Simon Ancliffe, founder of Movement Strategies, which advises major UK events like Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, and the 2012 Olympics on crowd safety, said the event organizers need to alert the performer to calm the situation. In Friday's event, the audience had alerted security multiple times, raising questions about their preparedness, lack of communication, and poor decision making. Some experts said that Scott's decision to play on a separate stage with no other acts scheduled at the same time could have amplified the problem. It's common for organizers to hold competing headliners at different stages to control the fans, an action known as 'spreading the field.' Authorities announced that a criminal investigation is being conducted on the deaths of eight people during the stampede at the Travis Scott concert in Houston, reported USA Today.

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