Astroworld lawsuits pour in as criminal investigation continues

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(NewsNation Now) — More than 20 lawsuits have been filed accusing Astroworld organizers of failing to take simple crowd-control steps or staff properly after a dangerous crowd surge left eight people dead and injured hundreds of others during a Travis Scott concert.

Among those named in civil lawsuits include concert promoter Live Nation, performer Drake and event headliner and founder Scott.

An attorney representing the family of one of the eight people killed, 21-year-old Axel Acosta, said the deaths are a clear failure of security and crowd control.

“Does that look organized? Well run?” said Tony Buzbee. “Does that look like somebody took the time, effort, energy to properly plan a concert to keep the individuals who pay their money and attend safe? Or does that look like utter chaos?”

Authorities have said part of their investigation will include reviewing whether the concert promoter and others behind the festival adhered to the plans submitted.

“In any situation where large groups of people are gathering, there is the potential for a civil disturbance/riot that can present a grave risk to the safety and security of employees and guests,” the plan said. “The key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open. Crowd management techniques will be employed to identify potentially dangerous crowd behavior in its early stages in an effort to prevent a civil disturbance/riot.”

Legal experts say criminal charges are also possible. The concert area in Houston where a crush of fans had pressed forward during the Friday night performance remains largely in place as authorities continue a criminal investigation. 

A 56-page event operations plan for the Astroworld music festival included protocols for dangerous scenarios including an active shooter, bomb or terrorist threats and severe weather. But it did not include information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.

The burden of proof is high for criminal liability. But one thing prosecutors will be looking at is why Scott continued to perform for nearly 40 minutes after authorities declared it a “mass casualty event.”

Scott did pause at one point, pointing to an ambulance in the crowd. But after asking people if they were OK by hoisting a middle finger in the air, he kept going. Afterward, Scott said he didn’t understand the severity of the situation.

“Anytime I can make out you know anything that’s going on, you know, stop the show and you know help them get the help they need,” Scott said in an Instagram video.

Drake issued his first statement on the tragedy on Tuesday, saying:

I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy. I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself. My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering. I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can, May God be with you all.

Drake

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner has defended how long it took for the concert to be called off after the first signs of trouble. The police chief said his department immediately notified concert organizers after noticing that attendees were “going down.”

Attorneys representing those injured or killed during the festival were granted access to the event’s grounds on Tuesday to inspect and photograph the site. Ryan MacLeod, who is representing several people hurt during the concert, said the area around where Scott had his concert seemed to have no place for people to exit once they went in.

Scott said he would cover funeral costs for the victims. The dead ranged in age from 14 to 27 and came from Texas, Illinois and Washington state, according to Harris County authorities. They included high schoolers, an aspiring Border Patrol agent and a computer science student.

You can read the full Astroworld 2021 event operations plan below:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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