A security guard working at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival in Houston, where at least eight people died and hundreds more were seriously injured, was not in fact jabbed with a needle containing opioids, as was initially suggested by authorities, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said at a news conference on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Finner said that medical staff reported treating the guard with Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and said that emergency responders had observed what appeared to be a needle mark on the unnamed guard’s neck.
He urged people not to jump to conclusions about the cause of the mass casualty event. “There were some individuals that were trampled, and we want to be respectful of that, but we just ask that y’all give us time to do a proper investigation,” he said.
But Finner today walked back the needle prick claim, saying that investigators managed to track down the security guard in question, who told police that “no one had injected drugs in him.”
Contrary to previous reports, the guard said he “was struck in his head,” according to Finner, after which the guard “went unconscious” and “woke up in the security tent.”
No eyewitness accounts had thus far backed up the claim of people in the crowd being unwittingly injected. There have been calls for an independent investigation because county officials helped organize the event at NRG Park, a county venue.
The day after Scott’s doomed performance, Madeline Eskins, an ICU nurse who was there, told The Daily Beast, “I’ve seen people die. Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed last night. I was about to tell my boyfriend to tell my son that I loved him, because I really thought that I was not gonna see him again. And before I could say anything, I fainted.”
She said rumors that the injuries or crowd surge were caused by a man randomly jabbing attendees with a syringe seemed extremely far-fetched.
“This is a lie,” she told Radar Online. “They trying to cover their asses. Nobody who actually was there has said this shit. Nobody saw this shit.”
Journalist Ben Westhoff, author of the 2019 book Fentanyl, Inc., also discounted initial claims circulating about random concertgoers being injected with drugs by an unknown assailant.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before,” Westhoff told Billboard. “First of all, that place was packed to the gills, so how are people preparing spoonfuls of fentanyl powder and loading up syringes? If someone went to the trouble of obtaining the fentanyl, why would they want to waste it on someone else?”
Multiple festival-goers who were injured, as well as the families of the deceased, have filed lawsuits against Scott and the festival organizers, who they claim failed to implement an adequate safety plan, did not properly control the crowd, and did not have sufficient medical staff or equipment on hand.
A crowd surge that began shortly after Scott took the stage led to a crush of attendees that left eight people dead, ranging in age from 14 to 27.