The Houston fire chief believes rapper Travis Scott should have tried to stop the show last week before a massive crowd surge toward the stage resulted in the deaths of eight people and injuries to dozens of others.
Chief Samuel Pena said on TODAY Tuesday that an investigation is ongoing into what caused the deadly crowd surge at the Astroworld festival in Houston on Nov. 5, but he believed Scott “absolutely” could have played a role in stopping it.
“The artist has command of that crowd,” Pena told Savannah Guthrie. “In my opinion, and this is my opinion right now because everything is going to be fleshed out throughout this investigation, but certainly, the artist, if he notices something that’s going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights and say, ‘Hey we’re not going to continue until this thing is resolved.'”
A harrowing scene unfolded when the crowd began to rush toward the front of the stage around 9 p.m. local time, police said. Witnesses said they saw people being trampled and struggling to breathe, and eight people ranging in age from 14 to 27 died in the chaos. A 9-year-old boy is currently in the hospital in a coma.
Scott has previously pled guilty to charges in 2015 and 2017 after incidents involving fans rushing the stage and jumping barricades at concerts in Chicago and Arkansas, respectively. Pena was asked if there is any evidence that he incited the crowd in Houston to stampede toward the stage.
“No, not at this point, I’m not prepared to say that,” Pena said. “I’m not prepared to say he was fully aware of what was going on.”
Scott’s girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, wrote on Instagram that she and Scott were not aware of the issues with the crowd until after the show, which went on until about 10:10 p.m., according to police.
“I want to make it clear we weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show and in no world would have continued filming or performing,” Jenner wrote early Sunday on Instagram.
Scott wrote in a statement on Twitter a day after the concert that he is “absolutely devastated.” He then announced Monday that he will pay for the funeral costs of those who died and will offer free one-on-one online therapy and other mental health services for those affected by the tragedy through a partnership with the therapy company BetterHelp.
More than a dozen civil lawsuits against Scott and Astroworld organizers have been filed as of Monday. The Houston Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation, but no one has been charged.
Scott Stump is a New Jersey-based freelancer who has been a regular contributor for TODAY.com since 2011, producing news stories and features across the trending, pop culture, sports, parents, pets, health, style, food and TMRW verticals. He has tackled every assignment from interviewing astronauts on the International Space Station to prison inmates training service dogs for military veterans.
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