A new website set up by the FBI is asking people that attended last year’s Astroworld festival – where a tragic crowd surge killed 10 and left hundreds more injured – to submit photos and video taken from the event.
The site – fbi.gov/astroworld – was launched in tandem with the Houston Police Department. Noting that they’d already sifted through “countless hours of video evidence”, the administration wrote in a statement shared yesterday (January 14): “To ensure that we have captured all possible evidence for a complete investigation, we have partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for additional technical assistance.”
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) January 14, 2022
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Dr. Darrin Porcher – a former lieutenant with the NYPD and adjunct professor at the Pace University School of Criminal Justice – said: “I think this took far too long. They should have hit the gas immediately upon starting the investigation.”
Opining that the Houston PD’s delay in setting up the website implied “the chain of command kind of fell asleep at the wheel”, Porcher continued: “For the life of me, I can’t understand why this wasn’t done immediately, because they clearly understood the police department only has so many people. You’re conducting an investigation with 50,000 people at one location.
“It’s clear, and it’s apparent, that the Houston Police Department didn’t have the ability to get this done, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They didn’t drive it as quickly as they should have.”
Travis Scott performs during the 2021 Astroworld Festival. Credit: Erika Goldring/WireImage
According to Rolling Stone, Porcher is “serving as an expert to Hilliard Martinez Gonzalez LLP, a plaintiffs’ law firm already representing more than 700 Astroworld attendees”, and says the FBI “has a large field office covering the Houston area with resources that would be well-known to local police”.
The publication also spoke with lawyer Alex Hilliard, who said the delay was unlikely to have an impact on the value of any footage submitted. “The plaintiff lawyers have been diligently obtaining all of this information,” he said, “so to the extent that prosecutors need it and are asking for it, it’s already within organized, available portals that exits in a lot of the firms.
“In the next couple of weeks, there will be a lot of information provided to prosecutors to establish that there was absolute criminal activity which occurred in this case.”
Last month, it was ruled that all 10 deaths from Astroworld would be classed as accidental, and were caused by compression asphyxia. Some 300 people were injured during headliner Travis Scott’s performance, with victims trapped by barricades on three sides when the 50,000 person crowd pushed towards the stage.
Speaking out on the tragedy in his first public interview since it happened, Scott said: “Fans come to the show to have a good experience and I have a responsibility to figure out what happened here. I have a responsibility to figure out a solution.”
The families of several victims have since spoken out against Scott for his statements, arguing that he was merely punting the blame elsewhere. Half of the victims’ families have rejected Scott’s offer to cover funeral expenses.
Reports later surfaced that he had been taken off the Coachella 2022 line-up, after more than 60,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling on festival organisers to remove him. It followed with the news that Dior had indefinitely postponed their collaboration with the rapper out of respect for the victims.