Astroworld victim's family spoke to police as they stood next to her body, HPD's final report states

10 people died as a result of the concert surge during Travis Scott's performance at NRG Park on Nov. 5, 2021

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Saturday, July 29, 2023
HPD releases final report of investigation into deadly Astroworld Fest
The Houston Police Department released a final detailed report on Friday into the Travis Scott Astroworld Concert.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Police Department released a final detailed report on Friday into the Travis Scott Astroworld concert.

The report, which exceeds 1,200 pages, details the police department's completed investigation into the incident.

The report contains timelines, transcribed 911 calls, narratives from officers who responded that night, and summaries of at least 100 interviews conducted by detectives.

During the news conference where HPD Chief Troy Finner announced the report's release, ABC13 reporter Mycah Hatfield asked if the answer to what happened that night would be obvious from reading it.

"I don't think it's going to be blatantly obvious to anybody," Finner said. "I think it's very complicated. I think it's good we are transparent."

Detectives determined the main cause of the deaths and injuries was not a stampede or crowd rush. Instead, they called it a "slow compaction."

One of the officers who responded spoke to Brianna Rodriguez's family at the hospital as they stood next to her body. Her mother shared text messages between herself and her daughter that day.

At 8:14 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2021, Rodriguez texted her mother, saying, "I love it here. I'm sad it's only 2 days."

Those texts were sent about two hours before she died.

Included in the report is an activity log from an incident command center. It notes that the first breach of security happened at 9:20 a.m. on Nov. 5, which was four hours before the gates opened.

It notes numerous breaches and that there was no control of the participants or the merchandise. People even used bolt cutters to enter the grounds, according to the log.

A now-retired member of HPD, who served the department for 45 years, was working the festival as a dispatcher to assist with security on the perimeter of the grounds.

In his interview, he told detectives that he worked at a command post during his service in Vietnam and he had never seen a day like that of Astroworld.

Based on what he saw happening during the daytime hours, he told detectives he was very concerned what would happen when the sun went down.

He said he spoke up to high-ranking HPD officers who were in his command post early in the day.

"This is not safe. What can we do about shutting it down?" he recalled asking. "Or shore up that this thing doesn't go tomorrow?"

The man said he was met with shoulder shrugs and a "go to hell" look from one member of HPD.

Detectives also interviewed a man who works in the festival industry and previously worked with Travis Scott but had nothing to do with Astroworld in 2021.

He said he separated from Scott's team years prior because they disagreed on safety protocols.

The man, who works as a producer and director, told detectives the show should have stopped when a metal detector went down or when the safety of the site was compromised.

During the interview, he told detectives he has stopped shows on a dime.

"He stated people yell and start throwing things, but they do not kill each other," the producer said.

In his opinion, there was negligence involved.

When asked by detectives if he believed the people responsible were Travis Scott, the security manager, and production manager, he said "yes."

Less than 48 hours after the festival, detectives interviewed Scott, his manager, David Stromberg, and his personal security guard, Michael Brown.

Stromberg said he was aware there would be pressure up against the barricades at the concert. He told detectives there have been scary moments at Scott's past shows, but he did not see anything like that happen this time.

He said Scott had been trained to pause or stop shows if he sees anything happening.

Scott told detectives that he did not see anything out of the ordinary. He said he asked concertgoers to "put a middle finger up" if they were OK and they did, so he continued.

Multiple people interviewed by detectives that were included in the report said concertgoers climbing over barricades at Scott's shows is not unusual or a cause for concern.

People described piles of bodies and victims being crowd surfed out within the first 30 minutes of the show.

About the time that special guest Drake wrapped up his performance, Scott said someone told him in his earpiece, "Yo, this is gonna have to be like the last song." The Houston native said he did not know it was an emergency.

He performed one more song and ended the show at about 10:14 p.m.

Brown told detectives he saw one of the bodies and immediately called for the show to end. During the interview a day and a half after the tragedy, he said he was frustrated with Houston police for not stepping in to shut it down.

In the months to follow, detectives interviewed a man who was contracted to operate a crane as part of a crew for Apple's livestream of the event.

He told detectives he was wearing a headset that allowed him to communicate with a team of producers in a trailer behind the stage.

At one point, the man said he looked down and saw two people receiving CPR at the base of his crane.

He stated that he yelled back over the radio and said, "The crane is down," and that "they were doing CPR under my crane and that people were dying." He could also hear on the radio the director turn around and repeat the statement to the producers who were in the room.

The crane operator believes his outcry was made over the headset at 9:25 p.m.

He recalled to detectives that concertgoers were crying and doing anything they could to get out of there below his crane.

The report states he saw a paramedic working on someone for 20 minutes before they threw their hands up in frustration and started on another patient. Scott was still performing.

"(He) described a kid that was lying over the chassis of the crane who he thought was dead," the report reads. "But when the show ended, the kid sat up. They told the kid that they thought he was dead, because he had been laying there for 45 minutes."

The crane operator used the words "carnage" and "kill zone" in his interview with detectives.

The producers in the trailer, who could hear that man's startling statement, told investigators they did not have the authority to take any action.

They heard that people associated with Scott were not receiving any communication about stopping the show or any issues in the crowd.

The medical director for the Harris County Medical Corps, who was on standby at the festival, said in his interview with detectives that even the best doctors or medics could not have saved someone who had been in cardiac arrest for 30 minutes, like these victims were.

He said it was a pre-planning issue.

"He stated this is something that should have been prevented, not a response scenario 30 minutes later," the detectives wrote in the report.

A team of HPD homicide detectives conducted the year-and-a-half-long investigation. They noted in the report that they are not used to dealing with so many attorneys as part of their cases. They noted that it presented challenges to speak to anyone, because even the victims' families hired lawyers.

This comes after a grand jury declined to indict Scott in a criminal investigation into the Astroworld Festival disaster, which left 10 concertgoers dead. Ultimately, they returned six no-bill decisions, meaning no criminal charges will be pursued.

More than 18 months after the deadly concert surge at NRG Park, no one has been held criminally responsible for the tragedy.

"Everything was presented to the grand jury, and they found there was no criminal liability on Travis' part," lawyer Kent Schaffer said.

The full report can be read below.

HPD breaks down Astroworld investigation after no charges brought forth

The Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney's Office explain the steps in their Astroworld investigation shortly after a grand jury declined to criminally charge Travis Scott and five others.

The victims, including the youngest who was just 9 years old, all died of compression asphyxiation, the medical examiner ruled. Roughly 300 people were injured and treated at the scene, and 25 were taken to hospitals.

A 56-page event operations plan for the festival had detailed protocols for various dangerous scenarios, including a shooting, bomb or terrorist threats, and severe weather. But it did not include information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.

Similar crushes have happened all over the world, from a soccer stadium in England, to the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, to Halloween festivities in South Korea's capital.

Most people who die in crowd surges suffocate.

For more on this story, follow Mycah Hatfield on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Travis Scott's attorney confirms 'no-bill' of rapper, 5 others

Kent Schaffer, the attorney of Houston rapper Travis Scott, speaks to reporters shortly after a Harris County grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against the Astroworld performer.

Watch in-depth coverage of what unfolded at the festival in Astroworld Aftermath

Fans waited for months to see Travis Scott at Astroworld. But the concert turned into a deadly tragedy. "Astroworld Aftermath" shows you what really happened that night.


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