Travis Scott concert death toll rises to 9
Criminal investigation into deaths at Astroworld music festival underway
A 22-year-old college senior who was critically injured at the Astroworld music festival in Houston last week has died, the family's lawyer said Thursday, making her the ninth person to die in a crowd surge after fans pushed toward the stage during a performance by headliner Travis Scott.
Bharti Shahani, who was set to graduate from Texas A&M University in the spring, died Wednesday night, attorney James Lassiter said during a news conference.
"For the first time in her life she just wanted to have fun, and that was taken from her," said Namrata Shahani, Bharti's sister, who also attended the concert.
She said her sister's last words to her were, "Are you OK?"
All the concertgoers who died following last Friday's show were between the ages of 14 and 27, underscoring how the tragedy unfolded in a mostly younger crowd.
A nine-year-old boy who was also injured at the sold-out festival of 50,000 people remained in a medically induced coma, according to his family.
Concertgoers have described the packed crowd growing dangerous even before Scott appeared on stage, and said they saw people collapse while the rapper performed.
Scott's attorneys have said the rapper did not know about the deaths and injuries until after the show.
On Thursday, Scott's representatives said he is "distraught by the situation" and has been trying to connect with the affected families to share condolences and provide them aid.
Hundreds of others were injured in the melee on Nov. 5 as Scott took to the stage. A criminal investigation into the deaths at Astroworld is underway.
Police radio recordings obtained
Scott was only minutes into his headlining show when at least one Houston police officer radioed over a police channel that the main stage had been compromised by a massive crowd surge.
Recordings of police radio traffic, obtained by the Houston Chronicle, reveal how quickly law enforcement became aware of the rising danger in the throng of concertgoers shortly after the rap star began performing at the sold-out music festival, which drew about 50,000 people.
Scott took the stage in his hometown of Houston shortly after 9 p.m.
"Looks like folks are coming out of the crowd complaining of difficulty breathing, crushing-type injuries," one official said over the police radio at about 9:21 p.m., according to the audio obtained by the newspaper. "Seems like the crowd is compressing on itself."
Scott continued performing his set, which lasted about an hour. The newspaper reported that police officers spotted people leaving the crowd but that their voices remained calm on the recordings through the first half hour.
"I'm at the medical tent," one officer radioed in at about 9:30 p.m. "There's a lot of people trampled and they're passed out at the front stage."
Later, another officer says: "We're getting multiple reports of people getting injured. We have another report of cardiac situation with CPR by the stage."
Performances continued after order to shut down
Houston police Chief Troy Finner said Wednesday that police told organizers to shut down the performance when fans in the crowd were administered CPR.
Authorities gave word at about 10:03 p.m. that the concert was in the process of shutting down, but witnesses say Scott and Drake, the Canadian superstar rapper who came on toward the end of Scott's set as a special guest, kept performing.
Finner repeatedly refused to provide timelines on Wednesday in what was just his second press briefing since the tragedy, saying the case was still under investigation. He said over 500 officers were working the festival, more than double the number assigned in 2019, the last time the festival was held.
But Finner said festival organizers had not provided clear records of how many private security guards were working the show, describing what they turned over as "just not good."
It was up to Live Nation Entertainment, the show's promoter, to secure two mosh pits in front of the stage, he said.
Scott's lawyers on Wednesday pointed to an operational plan for the event that states only the festival director and executive producers have the authority to stop the show, "neither of which is part of Travis's crew."
"Investigations should start proceeding over finger-pointing so that together, we can identify exactly what transpired and how we can prevent anything like this from happening again," Scott's lawyer, Edwin F. McPherson, said in a statement.