HOUSTON (AP) — Just moments before rap superstar Travis Scott took the stage the deadly Astroworld Festival 2021According to a police report released on Friday, a contract worker was so worried about what might happen after seeing people being crushed that he texted an event organizer saying, “Someone will end up dead.”
Security contract worker Reece Wheeler’s lyrics were some of the many examples in the episode 1,300-page report in which festival staff drew attention to problems and warned of possible deadly consequences. The report includes transcripts of 911 calls from concertgoers and summaries of police interviews, including one with Scott conducted just days after the event.
Ten participants of different ages died in the mass rush at the outdoor festival in Houston on November 5, 2021 from 9 to 27. The official cause of death was compression asphyxia, which one expert compared to being run over by a car. About 50,000 people attended the festival.
“Pull tons unconscious across the rail. There is panic in people’s eyes. This could get worse quickly,” Reece Wheeler texted Shawna Boardman, one of the private security directors, at 9 p.m. Wheeler then wrote, “I know they will try to push through, but I want to put it on record that I didn’t.” We advise against proceeding with this. Someone will end up dead.”
Scott’s concert began at 9:02 p.m. In their review of the video from the concert’s live stream, police investigators said that at 9:13 p.m. they heard the faint sound of someone saying, “Stop the show.” The same request was also at 9:16 p.m. and 9:22 p.m listen
In a police interview on August 19, 2022, Boardman’s attorneys told investigators that Boardman “saw things weren’t as bad as Reece Wheeler claimed” and decided not to take Wheeler’s concerns to others.
A grand jury declined to bring charges everyone investigated in connection with the incident, including Scott, Boardman and four others.
During a police interview that took place two days after the concert, Scott told investigators that while he saw a person near the stage seek medical attention, the crowd overall appeared to be enjoying the show and he none saw signs of serious trouble.
“We asked if he ever heard the crowd tell him to quit the show. He stated that if he had heard anything like that, he would have done something,” police said in their summary of Scott’s interview.
Hip-hop artist Drake, who performed with Scott at the concert, told police that from the stage it was difficult to see what was going on in the crowd and he ignored requests from concert-goers to call off the show, have not heard.
Drake learned of the tragedy from his manager later in the night while he learned more on social media, police said in their summary.
Marty Wallgren, who worked for a security consultancy hired by the festival, told police as he went backstage and tried to tell Scott and Drake representatives that the concert had to end because people had been injured and there was a possibility that they had died, he was told that “Drake has three more songs,” says a summary of the interview.
Daniel Johary, a college student who was caught in the crush of concert-goers and later used his skills as a paramedic in Israel to help an injured woman, told investigators hundreds of people called out to Scott to get on with the music stop, and that the chants could be heard “from everywhere”.
“He indicated that staff in the area gave the thumbs up and didn’t care,” the police report said.
Richard Rickeada, a retired Houston police officer who worked for a private security firm at the festival, told investigators that as of 8 a.m. on the day of the concert, “there was quite a bit of chaos,” according to a police summary of his interview. His concerns and questions about whether the concert should go ahead were “answered with a lot of shrugs,” he said.
Approximately 23 minutes into the concert, cinematographer Gregory Hoffman radioed the show’s production trailer to warn that “people were going to die.” Hoffman operated a large crane holding a television camera before he was overrun by concert-goers who needed medical attention, police said.
The production team radioed Hoffman to ask when the crane could be back in service.
Salvatore Livia, who was hired to direct the live show, told police that in the production trailer, after Hoffman’s dire warning, people understood something was wrong, but “they had no connection to the reality of what was happening out there.” . according to a police summary of Livia’s interview.
Christopher Gates, then 22, told police that by the second or third song in Scott’s performance, he encountered about five people on the ground, who he believed were already dead.
Their bodies were “lifeless, pale and their lips blue/purple,” the police report said. Random people in the crowd – not paramedics – performed the resuscitation efforts.
The police report was released about a month after the Houston grand jury declined to indict Scott on criminal charges related to the fatal concert. Police Chief Troy Finner had said the report would be released so people could “read the entire investigation” and form their own conclusions about the case. During a press conference following the grand jury’s decision, Finner declined to provide the overall outcome of his agency’s investigation or to say whether police should have called off the concert earlier.
The report’s release also came on the same day that Scott released his new album, “Utopia”.
More than 500 lawsuits were filed over the deaths and injuries at the concert, including many against concert promoters Live Nation and Scott. Some have now been clarified.
Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70