Travis Scott should have paused Astroworld Festival performance, Houston Fire Chief says

Houston Fire Chief: Officer may have been injected with drugs at deadly Astroworld concert

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena discussed the latest on the investigation into the deadly stampede on ‘America’s Newsroom.’

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena appeared on the “Today” show Tuesday where he updated the public on the investigation into the deaths at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival.

During the interview, Pena seemingly blamed the rapper for not doing more to control the crowd from the stage. 

“Look we all have a responsibility, everybody at that event has a responsibility, starting with the artist on down,” he told Savannah Guthrie.

The Fire Chief noted that it is merely his opinion that “the artist has control of the crowd” and that the official investigation will determine any culpability on the part of Scott, the event’s organizers or the venue. However, he believes the rapper could have been more instrumental in helping first responders and security regain control and respond to victims.

“If that artist knows something is going on, he can certainly pause the performance, turn on the lights and say, ‘hey, we’re not going to continue until this is resolved,” Pena said. 

Pena’s comments on “Today” echo those he previously made to the New York Times. In an interview with the outlet, he was quoted as saying that it is his opinion that Scott should have paused the show as soon as it became clear ambulances were responding to the scene. 

Travis Scott was criticized by the Houston Fire Chief for not pausing his Astroworld Festival performance to assist first responders. 
(Rich Fury/Getty Images)

“The one person who can really call for and get a tactical pause when something goes wrong is that performer. They have that bully pulpit and they have a responsibility,” he told the outlet Sunday. “If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, shut this thing down and turn on the lights until this thing gets corrected’ — and that coming from the person with the mic — I think could have been very helpful.”

The chief doubled down on those claims during his latest interview. He did note, however, that he does not believe Scott’s conduct on-stage led to the deadly crowd surge. Instead, he said that investigators are looking into the crowd control tactics that were being used that could have led to people in the center of the audience getting crushed by one another. 

Travis Scott performs onstage during the third annual Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
(Rick Kern/Getty Images)

“The investigation is still ongoing, it’s still in its infancy for sure,” he told the host. “We’re starting to get some picture of what may have caused this incident. It seems as though the crowd began to push toward the front to get as close to the stage as they could when Mr. Scott’s set began.”

Fans during 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
(Erika Goldring/WireImage)

He added: “What was happening was the barricades that were placed to prevent the surge toward the stage, in essence, caused other areas of pinch points. As the crowd began to surge and press and compress toward the front, it was those people in the center that began to get crushed and the injuries started to begin. We’re still trying to figure out what caused the crowd to being that surge, but we’re looking at everything.”

Pena appeared on “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday as well where he discussed the investigation further nothing that a plan was in place by the event organizer that the Houston Fire Department was not a part of. However, he said he pre-deployed first responders out of an abundance of caution. This came in handy once the situation got out of control, Houston Fire Department resources were already on the scene when the surge happened. 

“As soon as the incident commander determined that the incident was escalating, he was able to request additional resources and pre-deploy them to respond,” Pena explained.

He added: “I don’t know at what point the plan… fell apart, or the emergency operations plan or who made what call. What we do know now is the actions that the Houston Fire Department took and we are fully participating with this investigation.”

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