The city of Houston’s fire department chief is sharing his early thoughts and reactions to the Astroworld Festival tragedy that has devastated the city and concert-goers everywhere this week.
Samuel Pena spoke to TODAY on Tuesday about rapper Travis Scott‘s hometown festival and the tragedy that has so far claimed at least eight lives and injured hundreds more after an apparent crowd surge.
Related: 9-Year-Old Suing Travis Scott After Being ‘Trampled Nearly To Death’ At Astroworld Festival
Giving his opinion to TV journalist Savannah Guthrie about the matter, Chief Pena (pictured top right in inset, above) didn’t hold back in saying that he believed the 30-year-old rapper “absolutely” could have played a role in helping to head off the tragedy.
The fire chief said (below):
“The artist has command of that crowd. In my opinion, and this is my opinion right now because everything is going to be fleshed out throughout this investigation, but certainly, the artist, if he notices something that’s going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights and say, ‘Hey we’re not going to continue until this thing is resolved.’”
Of course, Travis Scott has been catching a lot of criticism on social media the last few days as more videos pop up showing just how many fans were begging him to stop the performance amid the ongoing tragedy. But to hear a public servant in a role like fire chief say it is definitely major, to say the least.
Even so, Chief Pena was not yet ready to say whether Scott is in any way legally or criminally liable for what happened on Friday night. When Guthrie asked if there was any evidence indicating the performer somehow directly incited the crowd in order to create the tragic situation, Pena was noncommittal:
“No, not at this point, I’m not prepared to say that. I’m not prepared to say he was fully aware of what was going on.”
That may change — as of Tuesday morning, the Houston PD is conducting a criminal investigation — but no one has yet been arrested or charged for any alleged actions at the festival tragedy.
Here’s more from Pena’s interview with TODAY that aired on Tuesday morning:
In the meantime, Scott and Astroworld organizers are already facing more than a dozen civil lawsuits stemming from the Friday night tragedy.