Tenth Astroworld victim dies


November 15, 2021

The number of people who have died as a result of the crowd surge at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival has now risen to ten. The latest victim to die of the injuries they sustained at the festival is nine year old Ezra Blount, the youngest victim, who attended the event with his father.

According to reports, Treston Blount put his son on his shoulders as Scott’s headline set began on the evening of Friday 5 Nov at Houston’s NRG Park, standing towards the back of the crowd where he thought things would be calmer.

However, he was still caught up in the subsequent crowd surge. Treston lost consciousness resulting in Ezra falling to the ground, where the nine year old was trampled, sustaining significant injuries. Ezra had been on life-support in an induced coma ever since the evening of the Astroworld tragedy.

Confirming that Ezra had now died from his injuries, the legal team representing the Blount family – which includes noted civil rights attorney Ben Crump – said: “The Blount family tonight is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son”.

“This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration”, the lawyers added. “Ezra’s death is absolutely heartbreaking. We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family. But tonight we stand in solidarity with the family, in grief, and in prayer”.

Crump and his colleagues had already filed litigation on behalf of the Blount family. Indeed, Crump held a press conference outside the Harris County Civil Courthouse in Houston on Friday, announcing that he was filing more than 90 lawsuits on behalf of over 200 people who attended the festival.

Among others, those lawsuits target Scott and his Cactus Jack company, as well as Astroworld promoters Live Nation and Scoremore. The Crump-led litigation joins countless other lawsuits filed in relation to the crowd surge.

Meanwhile, Scott’s lawyer, Edwin F McPherson, who previously issued a statement on his client’s behalf, gave an interview on ‘Good Morning America’ on Friday.

In it he discussed why Scott’s headline set continued for more than half an hour after police had declared a “mass casualty event” at the festival, and also whether the rapper’s past encouragement of dangerous behaviour at his shows contributed to this month’s tragedy.

McPherson had previously criticised the Houston Police Department, which initially defended the decision not to call off Scott’s performance as soon as a “mass casualty event” had been declared – saying that doing so could have incited a riot – but later sought to shift responsibility for the show continuing onto the rapper and his team.

Asked whether Scott was aware of what was a happening in the crowd during his Astroworld performance, McPherson was adamant that neither the rapper nor his crew knew about the scale of the crowd surge or the “mass casualty event” declaration, adding: “Travis didn’t really understand the full effect of everything until the next morning”.

He also insisted that Scott couldn’t be expected to see or hear the problems as they unfolded, and could therefore only stop the show if told to do so by others working at the event.

The rapper, the lawyer said, “does not have any ability to know what’s going on down below. When he’s up on the stage and has flash pots going off around him and he has an ear monitor that has music blasted though it and his own voice – he can’t hear anything and he can’t see anything”.

Beyond what specifically happened at Astroworld 2021, the lawsuits against Scott and Live Nation will also argue that the rapper has a long history of encouraging and celebrating dangerous behaviour at his shows, and that it was therefore inevitable that eventually his performances would lead to some kind of tragedy.

Although not commenting specifically on past charges Scott had faced – not to mention an ongoing lawsuit – all as a result of him allegedly inciting dangerous behaviour during his shows, McPherson argued that the rapper had become more responsible in that domain in recent years.

“Travis as an artist has really grown up a lot”, he said. “I have spoken personally to him about this – and he really didn’t understand the magnitude of his power up on the stage, I think, as a young performer. He has matured over the years, he does understand that”.

McPherson then noted that, during his Astroworld set earlier this month, when the rapper did become aware of issues – first seeing an ambulance as it tried to make its way through the crowd, and later when he saw that a fan had collapsed near the stage – he did pause the show, and urge security and audience members to help.

And when asked about Scott encouraging his fans to “rage” at his concerts, McPherson insisted that, while his client wanted an engaged audience, he also wanted a safe show. “You want your audience to be engaged”, McPherson said. “You want them to be standing up, you don’t want them to be sitting down – he wanted them to be engaged, he wanted them to have a good time”.

We discuss the legal fall out from Astroworld 2021 in more detail in this week’s edition of Setlist.

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