HOUSTON (NewsNation Now) — Determining the timeline of events at the Travis Scott performance that left nine dead and hundreds injured is a major focus of the city’s criminal investigation, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Wednesday.
“This type of investigation is going take weeks, possibly months,” Finner said.
Speaking at a news conference, Finner said merchandise tents contributed to fans rushing and that one of Live Nation’s roles was to secure mosh pits.
The chief also refuted a story that somebody pricked a security guard’s neck, possibly in injecting him with drugs, during the chaos.
“We did locate this security guard,” Finner said Wednesday. “His story is not consistent with that. He says he was struck in his head. He went unconscious. He woke up in the security tent. He says that no one injected drugs in him.”
Watch the news conference in the player below.
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.” The event was called off 40 minutes later after discussions that included the fire department and park officials.
Scott’s lawyer released a statement to NewsNation Thursday saying there have been “inconsistent messages” about the crowd surge.
There has been multiple finger-pointing, much of which has been by city officials, who have sent inconsistent messages and have backtracked from original statements.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner was quoted in the New York Times as saying “You cannot just close when you got 50,000 and over 50,000 individuals. We have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that’s that young.” Yet, just a short time later, Chief Finner states the responsibility to stop the show falls on Travis.
It was reported that the Operations Plan designated that only the festival director and executive producers have authority to stop the show, neither of which is part of Travis’s crew. This also runs afoul of HPD’s own previous actions when it shut down the power and sound at this very festival when the performance ran over 5 minutes back in 2019.
Investigations should start proceeding over fingerpointing so that together, we can identify exactly what transpired and how we can prevent anything like this from happening again.Edwin f. mcpherson
Meanwhile, the disastrous crowd surge is also raising questions about the medical plan for the Astroworld music festival.
Hundreds of people were treated for injuries on-site and at least 13 were hospitalized. They included a 9-year-old boy who attended the festival with his father but became separated as the crowd grew dangerously packed, according to family members.
Festival organizers had contracted with New York-based ParaDocs to handle all medical services at the festival. A plan the company submitted to local officials ahead of the festival said it estimated 70,000 attendees — more than the actual number of concertgoers — and planned for a daily staff of more than 80 emergency medics, doctors, registered nurses and supervisors.
This means there would be roughly eight or nine medical professionals for every 7,000 concertgoers. The medical professionals were supposed to be certified and/or licensed but that is being questioned after NewsNation learned that security was not.
A security officer told NewsNation that he was hired by text message and did not feel “prepared” to work the concert that night. Jackson Bush said he and his uncle showed up for the security job with no background checks and added that security personnel were supposed to be paid $17 per hour through Cash App.
ParaDocs said in a statement Tuesday that the company had been “prepared for the size of the venue and the expected audience with a trained team of medics and EMT” and that it was cooperating with investigators.
Astroworld’s event operations and emergency medical response protocols, filed with Harris County and obtained by NewsNation, states, “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.”
There was no mention of crowd surges in the emergency medical plan. Authorities have said part of their investigation will include reviewing whether the concert promoter and others behind the festival adhered to the plans submitted.
Houston police, along with the fire department, played a key role in safety measures at the sold-out show that drew 50,000 people. The union head of the Houston Fire Department said firefighters did not have a presence inside the festival and were not given radios to communicate directly with organizers.
Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, said firefighters had asked festival organizers for radios so they could be in direct contact with each other. Lancton said firefighters were given a list of cellphone numbers to call during an emergency.
“We don’t use cellphones for emergencies. We use radios. We need direct contact because as situations unfold, seconds matter,” Lancton said.
He said a group of four firefighters were stationed inside a mobile command van in a nearby parking lot starting at 7 a.m. Friday. Without direct communication with the festival organizers, the firefighters inside the van monitored six different radio frequencies to keep tabs on what was going on, he said.
You can read the Astroworld 2021 medical plan below: