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Houston fire chief: Travis Scott 'absolutely' should've ended concert

Houston fire chief says Travis Scott ‘absolutely’ should have ended his set when he realized that fans were getting hurt

  • Chief Samuel Peña says Scott could’ve ‘paused’ until the chaos was ‘resolved’
  • He says it’s not clear that Scott was ‘fully aware of what was going on’
  • A 2017 police report obtained by details Scott’s arrest after a rowdy concert in Roger, Arkansas
  • An officer says he carried out an unconscious female who had ‘convulsions’
  • Scott was caught on video telling people to rush the stage, but he denied doing so when confronted by officers, police say
  • The concert and arrest were shown in Scott’s 2019 Netflix documentary 

Houston’s fire chief says Travis Scott ‘absolutely’ should have ended his Friday night concert in Houston after seeing what was happening in the audience, where eight people died as the crowd packed in for a closer look at the rapper.

Speaking on NBC’s Today show Tuesday morning, Fire Chief Samuel Peña said, ‘The artist has command of that crowd. 

‘In my opinion – and this is my opinion because everything is going to be fleshed out throughout this investigation – the artist, if he notices something that’s going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights, and say, “Hey, we’re not gonna continue until this thing is resolved.'”

Eight people were killed and hundreds were injured in the first night of the third Astroworld Festival, an annual event founded by Scott and named after his highly acclaimed 2018 album. About 50,000 people were in attendance.

The fire chief’s comments come after revelations that Scott has twice pled guilty to inciting mayhem at his shows, including one Arkansas concert where an officer says he ‘lost count’ of those he had to help out of the pit, according to a police report obtained by

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña says Travis Scott should’ve ‘absolutely’ stopped Friday’s Astroworld show when he saw people struggling

Peña added that he wasn’t ‘prepared to say that [Scott] was fully aware of what was going on. Above, Scott performing at Astroworld on Friday, where eight people were crushed to death

Regarding Friday’s show, Peña clarified that he was not blaming Scott for starting the crowd surge.

‘I’m not prepared to say that. I’m not prepared to say that he was fully aware of what was going on,’ he said.

Following a performance at Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival in August 2015, Scott pled guilty to reckless conduct after his fans jumped a security barricade. Local news reports say the 29-year-old rapper fled the scene but was arrested shortly after.

The Office of Emergency Management said at the time: ‘The performer played one song and then began telling fans to come over the barricades. Due to the security’s quick response, the situation was remedied immediately and no fans were injured.’

The same cannot be said of his May 13, 2017 show in Roger, Arkansas, for which Scott later pled guilty to disorderly conduct after he encouraged fans to rush the stage and bypass security at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

CHICAGO 2015:  Scott pled guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct after his fans jumped a security barricade at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago

ARKANSAS 2017: Scott encouraged fans to go past security and rush the stage at a May 2017 show in Arkansas. He pled guilty to disorderly conduct the next year

According to a police report and video from the event, Scott told the crowd: ‘This pit looks empty, I don’t know if y’all scared or what but this is your last chance. Security let them through, security let them through.’

One to two thousand people rushed the stage following Scott’s command, according to Lt. David C. Jones, who was working extra duty at the concert.

‘After this occurred I worked my way down to the pit to assist the other officers and security,’ Jones wrote in a police report obtained by

Fans recall the ‘chaos’ of Scott’s 2017 Arkansas show, where police say one woman had ‘convulsions’ after she was pulled out of the crowd

‘Once I was in the pit I assisted several hurt people out of the pit. One of the females we took out of the pit had to be carried because she was unconscious. We carried her behind the security gates and laid her on the ground, she then went into convulsions. 

‘I had to radio dispatch to have an ambulance come back stage to assist her. I lost count of the number of people that I had to help out of the pit. 

‘Most of them were young females who were visibly upset and crying and most of them were complaining that they had been hit, pushed, or trapped against the security barriers.’ 

Officers confronted Scott after a crowd surge at his May 13, 2017 show in Arkansas, as seen in footage from his 2019 Netflix documentary Look Mom I Can Fly

Scott was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, later saying: ‘I feel bad though. I heard about kids getting hurt and s***.’

Scott, above in his mugshot after the 2017 Arkansas arrest, pled guilty to disorderly conduct charge in 2018 and paid a fine of over $7,000

Lt. Jones counted about 17 concertgoers who had to be taken to the medical room at the venue after the first crowd rush, though the final number is likely to be higher.  

The officer also noted that Scott encouraged members of the crowd to get on stage with him and jump into the crowd, or stage dive.

After Scott left the stage, he denied asking anyone to rush the stage, according to Lt. Jones.

He was handcuffed, searched and taken to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. He eventually paid a $7,465 fine, according to KFSM.

The Arkansas concert and subsequent arrest were featured prominently in Scott’s 2019 Netflix documentary Look Mom I Can Fly.

The Astroworld main stage, in a parking lot at the NRG Center, where Travis Scott was performing Friday evening when a surging crowd killed eight people

Before the show, a manager warned staff at the venue that they will see a lot of people ‘trying to get out and get to safety because they can’t breathe.’

‘Kids push up against the front and spread all the way across that and fill in the whole front part, so the pressure becomes very great up against the barrier,’ the manager told a group of staffers backstage, as shown in the documentary.

‘You will see a lot of crowd surfers in general, but also you see a lot of kids that are just trying to get out and get to safety because they can’t breathe – it’s so compact.

‘You won’t know how bad it could be with our crowd until we turn on.’

That description is similar to stories from members of Friday’s crowd, who said they were left gasping for air as the crowd got tighter and tighter before Scott got onstage.

The eight victims of Friday’s tragedy range in age from 14 to 27. They were Axel Acosta Avila, 21; Danish Baig, 27; Madison Dubiski, 23; John Hilgert, 14; Jacob Jurinek, 20; Franco Patino, 21; Rodolfo Peña, 23; and Brianna Rodriguez, 16. 

A 2019 documentary shows Scott, born Jacques Bermon Webster II, telling an Arkansas crowd: ‘Before I go to this next song, I’m gonna invite just a couple more people down here to rage with these motherf***ers down here.’

The documentary shows the crowd surging forward. Later, a staffer is shown following Scott as he runs through backstage and warning him, ‘Don’t go in that crowd.’

ASTROWORLD VICTIMS: Brianna Rodriguez, 16, (left) was a dancer and junior in high school. Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Pena, 23,(right)  was an aspiring model and dreamed of one day being a US Border Patrol agent. He died of cardiac arrest

ASRTROWORLD VICTIMS: Danish Baig, 27 (left), was killed at Travis Scott’s Astroworld after saving a relative during the stampede on Friday, his brother said. Franco Patino, 21 (right), also died, the University of Dayton said

John Hilgert, 14, was the youngest victim of the horrific crush which killed eight people at Friday night’s Astroworld Festival in Houston

Comments from Scott’s audience members are also shown, though it’s not clear if they were all part of the crowd in Rogers, Arkansas.

‘I thought I was gonna die,’ one said. Another audience member added: ‘I’m half dead.’

Leah Belay, a student at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, about 23 mi north of Rogers, recalls the energy at the 2017 show feeling relaxed right up until Scott was about to take the stage.

Security at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion is usually tight, Belay told, but the crowd got rowdier as Scott’s set neared and eventually ignored all rules when he asked them rush to the front.

‘At that point – it was like half a second of uncertainty – everyone’s kinda looking at each other, “Is he for real?” And people started going down that sidewalk, running to the pit. Then it got increasingly hectic, where people were jumping the railings.’

‘That’s when I noticed that I was putting myself in danger if I tried to go any further,’ she said.

Belay didn’t notice anyone requiring medical attention during or after the rambunctious scene, but she says the crowd rush and Scott’s subsequent arrest may have played a part in the current lack of rap concerts in the area.

‘It definitely left a bad taste in their mouth,’ she said of the community.

After he was released from jail, Scot told his team, ‘I feel bad though. I heard about kids getting hurt and s***. I just hate f****** getting arrested, man, that s***’s whack,’ according to the documentary.

Friends and family of the eight young people who died and the hundreds who were injured at Friday’s festival are demanding that Scott be held accountable for the tragedy.

Relatives on Monday were still coming to terms with the disaster, which saw victims aged from 14 to 27 crushed to death on Friday night as a sizable group of the 50,000 in attendance pushed toward the stage at NRG Park as a timer clicked down to the start of the performance.

One woman, identified only as Rachel, was furious over the death of her friend Franco Patino, a 21-year-old from Illinois, studying at the University of Dayton in Ohio. 

‘My friend is gone FOREVER because of Astroworld,’ she tweeted. 

‘The anger I have over this is insane. Travis Scott is going to have to do a hell of a lot more than post a notes-app apology.’

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, who knows Scott and felt that he had been trying to do good for his hometown, visited the musician in his trailer before Friday’s show.

He told the megastar that he was concerned about ‘the energy in the crowd,’ a source told the New York Times.

Scott continued performing for more than half an hour after first responders had declared a ‘mass casualty’ event, with the sounds of his music drowning out desperate pleas for help from the audience. 

Afterwards, Finner said that a security guard felt a prick in his neck and immediately fell unconscious while he was trying to restrain somebody else.

‘They administered Narcan. He was revived, and medical staff did notice a prick similar to a prick you would get if somebody was trying to inject,’ Finner said.

Sources close to the investigation now say that they’re investigating whether a bad batch of drugs laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, may have played a part in Friday’s deadly sruge.

‘There are potential scenarios that are being looked into, including malicious attacks and laced pills,’ a source told the Wall Street Journal, noting that authorities have launched a criminal homicide and narcotics investigation. 

Scott responded to the tragedy in a video on his Instagram stories on Saturday.

‘My fans really mean the world to me and I always want to leave them with a positive experience,’ Scott said.

‘Anytime I can make out anything that’s going on, ya know, I stop the show and you know, help them get the help they need. I could just never imagine the severity of the situation.’

Drake, who appeared on stage with Scott, issued his first statement on Monday night commenting on the tragedy

Kristian Paredes, 23, from Austin, Texas, filed a lawsuit obtained by Sunday

The crowd at the Houston-based music festival surged toward the stage during Scott’s performance, knocking other concertgoers over and squeezing them together so tightly that they could not breathe or move their arms.

‘To the ones that was lost last night, we’re working right now to ID the families so we can help assist them through this tough time,’ the rapper shared.

‘I’m honestly just devastated… I could never imagine anything like this just happening.’

Scott said he is working closely with local authorities as they investigate the crowd surge and encouraged anyone with information about the deadly incident to come forward.

His pregnant girlfriend Kylie Jenner, who was at the show with her model sister Kendall, put out her own statement after the ill-fated concert.

‘I want to make it clear we weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show and in no world would have continued filming or performing.

‘I am sending my deepest condolences to all the families during this difficult time and will be praying for the healing of everyone who has been impacted.’

Edgar Acosta, whose son Axel was killed on Friday, held a press conference on Monday in Houston with an attorney, Tony Buzbee

An Astroworld festivalgoer has sued Scott and Drake for over a million dollars, claiming the rappers ‘incited the crowd’ that left him ‘severely injured’ and eight others dead.

Kristian Paredes, 23, from Austin, Texas, filed the complaint obtained by Sunday accusing the rappers, Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation of negligence.

According to the complaint, special guest Drake ‘came on stage alongside Travis Scott and helped incite the crowd.’

On Monday, Edgar Acosta held a press conference with Texas attorney Tony Buzbee to announce he was also suing over the death of his 21-year-old son, Axel Acosta.

‘They need to make things change in these type of events,’ he said.

‘Today it was me. 

‘I lost my son. It could’ve been you,’ Acosta said. 

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