American rapper Travis Scott, who was headlining a concert in Houston where eight people died and hundreds of others were injured in a crush, has twice been convicted for encouraging fans to jump security barriers and rush the stage at previous shows, it has emerged.
The 30-year-old is likely to face questions as to why he continued performing for 37 minutes after police and firefighters were called to a “mass casualty event” on Friday, despite screams of “stop the show” being heard.
Although he briefly stopped to alert security to a man who appeared to have passed out, he completed his 75 minute set at the Astroworld Festival.
Scott, whose real name is Jacques Berman Webster II, insisted in a video posted on social media that he “could not imagine the severity of the situation” and promised to help the families of those who had died.
While it does not appear that Scott encouraged anyone to surge, critics have pointed to his previous behaviour in inciting crowds.
Grammy-nominated artist Travis Scott performs at the Astroworld music festival where a deadly stampede broke out
Credit: Amy Harris/Invision
In 2017, he was arrested after he encouraged fans to bypass security and rush the stage, leaving a security guard, a police officer and several others injured during a concert in Arkansas.
In a separate incident, he was sentenced to one year of court supervision after pleading guilty to reckless conduct charges stemming from a 2015 incident in Chicago at the Lollapalooza music festival.
At the time, Chicago officials said Scott encouraged fans to vault security barricades. However, no one was injured.
It is not known if he has yet been questioned by police over Friday’s show. At least two investigations, one of them criminal, were underway on Sunday into the deadly stampede. The dead were all younger than 27, and included two teenagers, aged 14 and 16.
Tens of thousands of fans rushed towards the stage as some began to fall unconscious
Credit: Amy Harris/Invision
Harris County Judge Lina Hildago has said she will be asking “tough questions” of everyone involved.
"It may well be that this tragedy is the result of unpredictable events, of circumstances coming together that couldn’t possibly have been avoided,” Ms Hildago said. “Perhaps the plans were inadequate. Perhaps the plans were good but they weren’t followed.”
"But until we determine that, I will ask the tough questions,” she added. “The families of those who died, everybody affected, deserves answers."
An ambulance is seen in the crowd during the Astroworld music festival in Houston, Texas, in this still image obtained from a social media video
Credit: TWITTER @anthony_t8 via REUTERS/Reuters
One of the investigations will look at reports that somebody in the audience had been stabbing random people with a syringe and injecting them with drugs.
Several people at the concert had to be revived with the anti-drug overdose medicine Narcan, according to Houston’s fire chief, Samuel Pena.
They included a security officer "who felt a prick in his neck" as he was trying to restrain or grab someone and then fell unconscious.
City Police Chief Troy Finner said local homicide and narcotics detectives would be looking to “get down to the bottom of it”.
Scott described himself as "absolutely devastated" by the incident, adding: “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”
He insisted in a video posted on social media that he “could not imagine the severity of the situation” on Friday night.
Scott’s girlfriend Kylie Jenner, the billionaire make-up entrepreneur, also issued a statement on Sunday, saying: “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.”
She is pregnant and was at the concert with their three-year-old daughter.
Emergency personnel respond to the Astroworld music festival in Houston
On Sunday, the families of those who died began paying tribute to their loved ones.
They included the family of 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, who spoke of their "profound sadness" and said the passionate dancer was "dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates".
People who were in the crowd have shared stories of terrifying scenes as medics tried to force their way into the crowd while the music was still blaring.
Niaara Goods, 28, of New York, said the crowd surged as a timer counted down to the start of the performance.
"As soon as [Scott] jumped out on the stage, it was like an energy took over and everything went haywire. All of a sudden, your ribs are being crushed. You have someone’s arm in your neck. You’re trying to breathe but you can’t," said Ms Goods, who traveled to Texas to see friends and to celebrate a birthday.
"It was literally the scariest night of my life. I literally thought I was going to die trying to get out," she said.
Gary Gaston, 52, of Houston, added: "It was surreal because you see these people being pulled out on these gurneys and people running into the medical tent, but the music is still going. People in the arena were unaware of it."