Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wants independent investigation into Astroworld Festival tragedy

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo visited the memorial at NRG Park Monday night, and responded to the mounting questions surrounding the deaths of eight people at artist Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival.

It was her first visit to the vigil of candles and balloons that sit along a fence across from NRG Stadium. For days, people have been stopping by to pray, think and leave mementos.

"On behalf of the county, we won't forget them. We honor them," she said to reporters, as so many questions continue to swirl. "There's a lot to untangle."

There was trouble from the start. An ABC13 crew captured video of people breaking through a security checkpoint when the gates opened at the festival Friday afternoon. The breach let into the grounds hundreds of people who never went through metal detectors. Some concertgoers were even trampled.

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On Monday, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner shared on Twitter that he had "public safety concerns" which led to a meeting with "Travis Scott and his head of security for a few moments last Friday prior to the main event."

Still, the show went on.

This was not the first time in the concert's short history that there were problems. In 2019, its second year, attendees recorded videos showing moments of chaos when fences were torn down. Three people were injured. The county owns NRG Park. ABC13 asked Hidalgo why the festival was allowed back.

"It's another question that we need to answer. One thing I asked, for example, was Live Nation. There was a history of violations. There's been a history of issues with Live Nation, so why work with them and the answer I've gotten is they're one of, if not, the largest player in this live entertainment scene. So, you just can't be involved without them," Hidalgo said.
Live Nation released the following statement Monday:

"We continue to support and assist local authorities in their ongoing investigation so that both the fans who attended and their families can get the answers they want and deserve, and we will address all legal matters at the appropriate time."

Hidalgo said as criminal and civil investigations take their course, she also wants an independent investigation.

"Because these families are grieving and it's so much harder to do so without answers."

Finner released the following statement regarding his conversation with Scott:

"I met with Travis Scott and his head of security for a few moments last Friday prior to the main event. I expressed my concerns regarding public safety and that in my 31 years of law enforcement experience I have never seen a time with more challenges facing citizens of all ages, to include a global pandemic and social tension throughout the nation. I asked Travis Scott and his team to work with HPD for all events over the weekend and to be mindful of this team's social media messaging on any unscheduled events The meeting was brief and respectful, and a chance for me to share my public safety concerns as Chief of Police. As I have previously stated, our criminal investigation continues. We are asking for everyone to be considerate of the grieving families during this incredibly difficult. Please continue to lift them up in prayer."

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