Family of Astroworld victim to speak, security at show unclear, chief says

Local

The Astroworld main stage where Travis Scott was performing Friday evening where a surging crowd killed eight people, sits full of debris from the concert, in a parking lot at NRG Center on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Houston. ( Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (KIAH) — The family of a 22-year-old Texas A&M student who is in very critical condition will give an update on her condition and whether they will take legal action against parties involved in the tragic Astroworld Festival last Friday.

Bharti Shahani’s parents, Karishma and Bhagu “Sunny” Shahani, and other family members will make comments later Thursday afternoon, joined by lawyers James Lassiter and Mohammed Nabulsi to update their daughter’s condition and to “call for accountability for those who are responsible.”

Right now, Bharti is in intensive care at Houston Methodist Hospital when she was trampled during the Travis Scott concert at NRG Park. She suffered several heart attacks and doctors have said that she may be brain dead.

Bharti’s family has set up a GoFundMe page for donations.

There are 46 lawsuits that have been already filed in relation to the incident that left eight concert-goers dead and several injured.

Meanwhile, organizers of the Astroworld music festival have not provided investigators with clear records about private security personnel working the grounds when a massive crowd surge during headliner Travis Scott’s set  led to at least eight deaths, Houston’s police chief said Wednesday.

It was up to Live Nation Entertainment, the show’s promoter, to secure two mosh pits in front of the stage Friday night at the sold-out festival of 50,000 people, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said at a news conference. He described staffing records handed over by organizers as “just not good” but emphasized that he was not placing any blame.

But key questions are still unknown five days after the tragedy, which left hundreds of other concertgoers injured, including at least two who were still in critical condition. Finner said police told organizers to shut down the performance when fans in the crowd were administered CPR. But he repeatedly declined to provide timelines, making it unclear at what point that order came in Scott’s roughly hourlong set, and how much longer the show lasted after the directive was given.

“When you say authority and ability to end the show, we don’t hold the plug. But it’s always in the plan, it’s always a discussion of how that would happen,” he said. “We had those discussions with the promoters.”

Scott’s attorneys 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,” attorney Edwin F. McPherson said in a statement.

Finner also forcefully defended his department’s ability to handle the criminal investigation on its own, rejected calls for an outside probe and said he did not have a close relationship with Scott, who is from Houston and founded the festival.

Finner said he expressed safety concerns to Scott before the Friday night show but did not go into detail. He said he has only ever spoken with Scott twice.

“I had no reason to believe that it wasn’t going to be safe,” Finner said. “But I’m the kind of chief that I meet with people whenever I can, and that includes him. We had a very respectful, few minute conversation on my concerns.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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