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Astroworld tragedy: Rapper Travis Scott won't face criminal charges

A Grand Jury has declined to indict Scott for the crowd surge at a 2021 music festival that left 10 people dead and many others injured.
Astroworld tragedy: Rapper Travis Scott won't face criminal charges
Posted at 11:33 AM, Jun 30, 2023

Rapper Travis Scott will not face criminal charges for the 2021 Astroworld concert tragedy in Houston that left 10 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

A Texas grand jury declined to indict Scott on criminal charges and found that no individual person was responsible for the deadly crowd surge. 

"In this instance, the grand jury of the 228th District Court of Harris County found that no crime did occur, that no single individual was criminally responsible," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said at a press conference.

However, prosecutors said the victims' families are free to file civil lawsuits in the case.

"We have relief under different types of law. ... So I want peace for those families," Ogg added. "Whether criminal charges, whether civil liability and money damages, whether administrative help brings those families justice, I just hope they achieve some kind of resolution that they can move forward with."

Scott was the headliner and creator of the Astroworld festival, where 50,000 people were in attendance, but his set quickly turned deadly as fans surged toward the stage. The youngest victim was 9-year-old Ezra Blount. The others who died ranged in age from 14 to 27. Some 300 people were injured and treated at the festival site and 25 were taken to hospitals. 

In a lengthy interview a month after the tragedy, Scott said he wasn't aware that fans had died at the festival until after his performance had ended. 

"It wasn't really until minutes before the press conference until I figured out exactly what happened," he said. "Even after the show, you're just kind of hearing things, but I didn't know the exact details until minutes before the press conference." 

Scott also denied that his history of encouraging fans to rush the stage or push past security contributed to the chaos. 

"People didn't just show up there to be harmful," he said. "People showed up to have a good time and something unfortunate happened." 

Scott also pledged to cover all funeral costs for the victims. It's not clear whether he paid for any funerals; several victims' families rejected his offer.

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A 56-page operations plan for the festival included protocols for dangerous scenarios including an active shooter, terrorist threat, and severe weather. But it did not include anything on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.

"In any situation where large groups of people are gathering, there is the potential for a civil disturbance/riot that can present a grave risk to the safety and security of employees and guests," the plan said. "The key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open. Crowd management techniques will be employed to identify potentially dangerous crowd behavior in its early stages in an effort to prevent a civil disturbance/riot."

Crowd surge deaths typically happen when a large group of people are squeezed into a space so tightly that some struggle to get oxygen. Contrary to popular belief, crowd surge deaths are not typically caused by people being trampled.

Scott's attorney Kent Schaffer said his client never encouraged concertgoers to do anything that would have endangered anyone in attendance, adding that the grand jury's decision to not indict him on criminal charges is "a great relief."

The grand jury also declined to indict five others involved in the tragedy, including festival manager Brent Silberstein.

More than 500 lawsuits have been filed since the concert, including several against Scott and concert promoter Live Nation. Some have been settled but many others remain open.

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