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First lawsuits filed against Travis Scott, Astroworld organizers after deadly festival

Eight people were killed and more than 300 were treated after the chaos unfolded Friday night.
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More than a dozen lawsuits against Travis Scott and the organizers of Astroworld have been filed as of Monday after eight people died and dozens were injured following a crowd surge.

"We are sickened by the devastating tragedy that took place on Friday night. Travis Scott has a history of inciting violence and creating dangerous conditions for concertgoers," attorneys from Kherkher Garcia LLP said in a statement.

The Houston personal injury firm is representing Manuel Souza, who "suffered serious bodily injuries when the uncontrolled crowd at the concert knocked him to the ground and trampled him," according to his suit.

"So many people were hurt, and so few emergency personnel were provided by defendants, that patrons themselves had to conduct CPR on their fellow concertgoers," the suit alleges. "Yet defendants made the conscious decision to let the show go on, despite the extreme risk of harm to concertgoers that was escalating by the moment." 

Kylie Jenner, who is pregnant with her second child with Scott, came under fire shortly after the concert for posting images of the show, in which an ambulance can be seen. Many on social media criticized Scott for not stopping the show as the tragedy unfolded.

Jenner appeared to address the backlash in a statement, saying she and Scott were unaware of what was happening in the crowd until after the show.

"I want to make it clear we weren't aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show and in no world would have continued filming or performing," she wrote early Sunday on Instagram.

Attorney Benjamin Crump said Monday he’s been retained to represent the parents of a 9-year-old who was in a medically induced coma after he was trampled at the event.

“The suffering that this family is going through is immeasurable,” the lawyer said in a statement that alleged event organizers were negligent."

“This little boy had his whole life ahead of him — a life that is currently hanging in the balance because of the reckless mismanagement that ensued at the Astroworld Festival," Crump said.

The chaos at the Houston festival unfolded Friday shortly after 9 p.m. when the massive crowd “began to compress toward the front of the stage,” officials have said.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Saturday afternoon that a few people started “going down” at 9:30 p.m. He said officials informed producers of what was happening, and the show ended at about 10:10 p.m.

The department is conducting a criminal investigation, with the involvement of the homicide and narcotics divisions, Finner added.

On Monday, Finner confirmed in a statement that he had met with Scott and his head of security "for a few moments" Friday to ask him to work with the police department throughout the weekend and "to be mindful of his team’s social media messaging on any unscheduled events."

"I expressed my concerns regarding public safety and that in my 31 years of law enforcement experience I have never seen a time with more challenges facing citizens of all ages, to include a global pandemic and social tension throughout the nation," Finner wrote. "The meeting was brief and respectful, and a chance for me share my public safety concerns as the Chief of Police."

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo identified the eight victims on Monday as Mirza Baig, 27; Rodolfo Peña, 23; Madison Dubiski, 23; Franco Patiño, 21; Jacob Jurinke, 20; Axel Acosta Avila, 21; Brianna Rodriguez, 16; and John Hilgert, 14.

"In the days to come we’ll hear more about their stories, their dreams and what they hoped to accomplish in life. To the parents, family members, and friends with a gaping hole in their hearts today, on behalf of the people of Harris County, we are with you," Hidalgo wrote on Twitter.

Twenty-five more people were taken to nearby hospitals, and more than 300 people were treated throughout the event Friday at an on-site field hospital, officials said.

Souza's lawsuit said that "Scott actively encourages his fans to 'rage' at his concerts. His express encouragement of violence has previously resulted in serious violence at numerous past concerts."

In 2017, Scott was arrested after he encouraged fans to bypass security and rush the stage — which he often does — leaving a security guard, a police officer and several others injured during a concert in Arkansas. Scott pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and had to pay more than $6,000 to two people injured at the show, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In a separate incident, he was sentenced to one year of court supervision after pleading guilty to reckless conduct charges stemming from a 2015 incident in Chicago at the Lollapalooza music festival.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Tuesday that there’s no evidence Scott had encouraged the crowd to get rowdy or rush the stage, but the investigation is ongoing.

“I’m not prepared to say that he was fully aware of the — of what was going on,” Peña said.

But “everybody at that event has a responsibility, starting from the artist on down,” he said, adding that people in the crowd were trying to get help from Scott’s private security, and an ambulance moved through the crowd at one point.

Scott launched the Astroworld festival in 2018 in his hometown of Houston as an annual event. The festival made its return Friday after a hiatus in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m honestly just devastated. I could never imagine anything like this just happening,” he said in an Instagram story posted on his account Saturday.

“I want to send out prayers to the ones that was lost last night. We’re actually working right now to identify their families so we can help assist them through this tough time.”

A second lawsuit filed against Scott, organizers of the festival and rapper Drake on behalf of Kristian Paredes also accused Scott of inciting "mayhem and chaos at prior events."

The suit said Drake was performing with Scott when the crowd started to get out of control Friday. But Drake "continued to perform on stage while the crowd mayhem continued," the suit said.

Reps for Drake declined to comment in an email to NBC News regarding allegations in Paredes’ lawsuit.

But in a statement posted to Instagram, Drake wrote: "I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy. I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself."

"My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering. I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can. May God be with you all," Drake said.

“Live musical performances are meant to inspire catharsis, not tragedy,” Texas attorney Thomas J. Henry said in a statement accompanying the suit. “Many of these concert-goers were looking forward to this event for months, and they deserved a safe environment in which to have fun and enjoy the evening. Instead, their night was one of fear, injury, and death.”

In a statement, Live Nation said the company will "continue to support and assist local authorities in their ongoing investigation so that both the fans who attended and their families can get the answers they want and deserve, and we will address all legal matters at the appropriate time."

Scott did not comment specifically on the suits.

Sources close to Scott on Monday told NBC News that he would refund Astroworld attendees and would not perform at this weekend’s Day N Vegas Festival, which he was set to headline.

Scott also said he would cover all funeral costs for the victims and had partnered with BetterHelp to supply free online therapy for those affected by the tragedy.

“These are the first of many steps Travis plans on taking as a part of his personal vow to assist those affected throughout their grieving and recovery process,” Scott's representatives said in a statement.

On Monday, at least 11 more suits against Scott and Live Nation Entertainment Inc. were filed in Harris County.

Tragedies like the one at the Astroworld festival are not new. In 1979, 11 people died in a scramble to enter a Cincinnati concert by The Who. At a soccer stadium in England, a human crush in 1989 led to nearly 100 deaths. In 2015, a collision of two crowds at the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia caused more than 2,400 deaths, based on an Associated Press count of media reports and officials’ comments.