Texas police were aware of trouble at Travis Scott’s deadly Astroworld festival for about an hour before the performance finally ended, according to a troubling report based on emergency radio messages.
A Houston cop first reported that desperate fans were trying to flee the main stage mere minutes after the “Sicko Mode” star took the stage Friday, ending with eight dead, according to a Houston Chronicle review of the radio calls.
That first warning was at 9:11 p.m. — but police were only able to get the show closed down at 10:03 p.m., and Scott and guest star Drake still continued performing for more than 10 minutes after that, the paper said.
After the first call, a police helicopter was sent to check on the chaos as audience members desperately tried to escape the close near the main stage, the calls show.
“There’s not a lot we can do,” an official stated, even though at least 500 Houston officers were on site. “Stand by for now. We’ll have to wait, but the concert management will let us know,” the official said.
Minutes later, at 9:16 p.m., a “caller reported that people are getting stepped on” and people were seen jumping the fence containing the crowd, the Chronicle’s report noted.
“Looks like folks are coming out of the crowd complaining of difficulty breathing, crushing-type injuries,” an official said around 9:21 p.m. “Seems like the crowd is compressing on itself.”
It was around then that video was taken of an unresponsive man receiving CPR amid the pressing crowd, and another was captured climbing a speaker tower to escape and raise the alarm, the paper said.
At 9:30 p.m., a panicked-sounding female officer called in from the medical tent demanding others clear the airwaves.
“There’s a lot of people trampled and they’re passed out at the front stage,” she said in a clip shared by the Chronicle.
By 9:33 p.m., another female officer warned of “multiple reports of people sprawled out, unconscious in the crowd.”
An officer in the command post then warned of the dangers for responders because the crowd was “super thick, super tense.”
“If you go in there, this could possibly turn into an officer rescue situation,” the would-be rescuers were warned.
“That could be extremely dangerous for everybody … Be careful.”
Other messages warned of the danger of fans falling from a media tower they were scaling to escape and try to get the show stopped.
“People are about to fall off and their media people at the booth are calling ‘may-day’ requests to get out and they can’t get out. They are deep inside the crowd,” one call said, according to the paper.
At 9:38 p.m. an officer warned of “multiple reports of people getting injured” — as well as another report of cardiac situation with CPR by the stage,” the report said.
Desperate-sounding officers were told to take a “deep breath” before getting on the radio because many messages became unintelligible, the report said.
The 9:38 p.m. call came at the same time as the gig was declared a mass casualty incident — but word that the show was being shut down only came through 25 minutes later, at 10:03 p.m., the report noted.
Even after that, Houston-native Scott as well as guest star Drake continued performing for more than 10 minutes, witnesses told the paper. The pair then reportedly went to an aftershow party.
Despite the flood of warnings, Houston Police Officers’ Union’s executive director Ray Hunt insisted that before 9:30 p.m. the tone of the radio traffic was similar to other large events.
“They did not know the scope of the situation — they only knew what was going on in their individual area,” he told the Chronicle.
It was still unclear how the show was able to continue for so long after it was declared a mass casualty event, however.
Houston’s fire chief insisted Tuesday that Scott “absolutely” should have stopped it, suggesting there were clear warnings that it had turned tragic.
Scott — who’d been watched by his 24-year-old pregnant girlfriend Kylie Jenner and their 3-year-old daughter Stormi — was seen on video footage noting fans being pulled out as well as an ambulance driving through the crowd before continuing the show.
However, he insisted Saturday that he “could just never imagine the severity of the situation” when he continued performing.
“I’m honestly just devastated and I could never image anything like this just happening,” he said in a video on his Instagram stories.
As of Thursday, at least 58 lawsuits have been filed over the show, which also saw hundreds of fans injured and traumatized, CNN said. A 9-year-old boy is among three people still in critical condition.