In the week since a Houston music festival turned deadly, questions have emerged about who should be held accountable for the nine people who died and the hundreds who were injured.
Audience members described an unruly crowd surge on November 5 that pulled them into what felt like a “death trap,” leaving many struggling to breathe. Some concertgoers were left administering CPR on those who passed out.
“I picked some kid up and his eyes rolled to the back of his head, so I checked his pulse. I knew he was dead,” concertgoer Billy Nasser said. “I checked the people around me. And I just had to leave him there. There was nothing I could do.”
A 22-year-old college student died Wednesday, becoming the ninth victim. The ages of those who died range from 14 to 27. In addition, a 9-year-old boy who was seriously injured is in a medically induced coma.
The question of safety measures at the event has been a focal point over the past week, leading to criticism from concertgoers and others.
“Everybody in that venue, starting from the artist on down, has a responsibility for public safety,” Peña told CNN earlier this week.
Scott has maintained he did not know what was happening in the crowd during his set – disputing city officials’ account of his responsibility in the deadly surge.
McPherson, in a statement Wednesday, blasted Houston city officials for what he said was “finger-pointing” and “inconsistent messages.”
Scott said he was devastated by what happened and said he will cover all funeral costs for the victims.
As the investigation unfolds, here’s what we know so far.
Operations plan laid out chain of command
Multiple concertgoers told CNN that the crowd surge happened after Scott took the stage.
Jeffrey Schmidt said he and his friend tried to escape when breathing became more challenging.
“Little did we know, all hell was about to break loose. People started to pass out and fall to the ground,” Schmidt told CNN.
The “ultimate authority to end a show (was) with production and the entertainer, and that should be through communication with public safety officials,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said earlier this week. “We don’t hold the plug.”
Finner has said the investigation revealed that police personnel told the production team that CPR was underway on at least one individual and to stop the show. Finner did not specify who the production team is or the timing of the notifications.
Firefighters who were stationed outside the venue were not in radio communications with the emergency medical providers hired by the concert organizers as the situation unfolded, said Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
Lancton added firefighters were instead given phone numbers, which are not a reliable communication method during emergencies, given potential signal weakness during events involving large gatherings.
A 56-page operations plan for the concert was obtained by CNN this week, showing a clear chain of command in case of an incident.
The plan identifies the role of the executive producer as well as the festival director as the only people with the authority to stop the concert. The document CNN obtained is marked Version: 0.1, and it is unclear whether it was the final version of the plan and when it was drafted.
McPherson said neither the festival director nor executive producers are part of the rapper’s crew.
McPherson pointed to Finner’s comments on Saturday that authorities had concerns about stopping the show early due to potential rioting.
All the victims were under 30
Authorities have said it could take weeks for the medical examiner to determine the causes of death.
Here’s a glimpse into what we know about the victims.
Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old Texas A&M University student, died Wednesday night after being ventilator in critical condition for days, attorney James Lassiter said.
Axel Acosta Avila, 21, was a junior at Western Washington University and had an interest in computer science, according to the university. He was from Tieton, Washington.
Danish Baig, 27, died trying to save his fiancée, who was getting stomped on and hit in the crowd surge, his brother Basil Baig told CNN. He was from Euless, Texas. “People would admire him for who he was,” Basil Baig said.
Jacob Jurinek, who was a 20-year-old junior studying journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, was also among the victims, the university said.
Another student, Franco Patino, was a senior at the University of Dayton studying mechanical engineering technology and human movement biomechanics, the university said. “He was loved by so many because of the loyal, loving, selfless, protective, funny, and caring person he was,” his family said in a statement.
Rodolfo Peña, 23, lived in Laredo, Texas, and studied at Laredo College, according to his Facebook page.
Brianna Rodriguez, 16, was a junior at Heights High School in Houston, according to a verified GoFundMe account established by her family. “Dancing was her passion and now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates,” the fundraising post says.
John Hilgert, 14, was freshman at Memorial High School in Houston, a school district spokesperson said.
Madison Dubiski, 23, was from Cypress, Texas.
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Melissa Alonso, Travis Caldwell, Alanne Orjoux, Jenn Selva, Keith Allen, Victor Blackwell, Amir Vera, Maya Brown, Andy Rose, Caroll Alvarado, Jennifer Henderson, Chloe Melas, Claudia Dominguez, Gregory Lemos, Amanda Watts, Josh Campbell, Raja Razek, Anna-Maja Rappard, Kay Jones, and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this report.