OAN’s Brooke Mallory
7:00 PM – Thursday, June 29, 2023
Travis Scott, a rapper and producer who planned the ill-fated 2021 Astroworld Festival, will not face charges in connection with the crowd crush that killed ten people and injured hundreds more, District Attorney Kim Ogg declared on Thursday.
A grand jury also declined to indict several festival personnel involved in the police inquiry, including chief of security John Junnell and festival director Brett Silberstein.
“In this instance, the grand jury of the 228th District Court of Harris County found that no crime did occur and that no single individual was criminally responsible,” Ogg said.
“It is tragic that 10 innocent people were killed while trying to enjoy an evening of music and entertainment, something many of us do routinely and without a second thought to our safety. But a tragedy isn’t always a crime, and not every death is a homicide,” Ogg continued. “This grand jury’s determination has no impact on the many civil lawsuits pending.”
The victims allegedly died as a result of “compression asphyxia,” according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
The youngest victim was 9 years old.
Several lawsuits have been brought against Scott and other event organizers, including Live Nation, an entertainment corporation. Those accused have rejected assertions that incompetence in the festival’s preparation and advertising contributed to the fatalities.
When the crowd rush first began, there were circulating videos online that showed festivalgoers in the front rows screaming at the artist in unison, telling him to stop the performance. In the video, it appears as though Scott is ignoring them or possibly cannot hear what they are saying.
“While waiting patiently for the District Attorney’s decision to not file charges, Travis Scott has been inaccurately and wrongly singled out, despite stopping the show three separate times and being unaware of the events as they were unfolding,” Scott’s spokesperson Ted Anastasiou said on Thursday. “Now that this chapter is closed, we hope for the government efforts to focus on what is most important – stopping future heartbreaking tragedies like Astroworld from ever occurring again.”
“Criminally speaking, there is no case,” Scott’s attorney Kent Schaffer told the press.
According to Schaffer, the grand jury convened for about six hours, and homicide detectives testified. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner stated on Thursday that the entire criminal offense will be released in the coming weeks.
When the event swiftly devolved into mayhem, many concert-goers were crushed, pushed down, and fighting to breathe as fans surged towards the stage during Scott’s performance.
The chaos caused authorities to designate the performance a “mass casualty event,” according to police.
At the time, it was unclear what Scott had observed from the stage or whether he was aware of the audience’s circumstances. He continued to perform for over an hour after the injuries were recorded, although his lawyer stated at the time that he was unaware of the mass casualty declaration until the next morning.
According to the Houston Police Department’s lead homicide investigator, Mike Barrow, during Thursday’s news conference, “prior occurrences at the festival” contributed to the crowd circumstances. He also stated that the number of concertgoers gathered around Scott’s main stage in anticipation of his performance and the lack of security were major reasons for crowd compaction.
Scott said in a statement following the tragedy that he was “distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to (the victims) as soon as possible.”
The eerie stage design for the artist’s performance said “SEE YA ON THE OTHER SIDE” and featured flames and subtle occult symbolism, which made some conspiracy theorists and skeptical online sleuths question if this was a planned tragedy to gain worldwide attention and publicity.
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