Families and friends mourn the loss of Astroworld victims

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Family and friends gathered on Sunday to mourn the first of eight music fans who died in a mass onslaught at the Astroworld Festival hosted by hip-hop star Travis Scott in Houston on Friday night as the criminal investigation into the circumstances of the death continued.

At a funeral at the Colleyville Masjid in the suburbs of Dallas, 27-year-old Dane Baig, a Karachi, Pakistan-born AT&T district director who attended high school in Karachi, Pakistan, Euless, Texas, was thought to be more cheerful by relatives remembered, devout Muslim who loved spending time with family.

“He was an amazing soul,” said Basil Mirza Baig, 25, of his brother in a telephone interview after the funeral. “His smile would light up the room. He had the biggest heart, the biggest heart in the room. “

Basil Baig, who attended the concert with Danish and his fiancée Olivia Swingle, said his brother died trying to protect Swingle when people in the crowd stepped on her and slapped her in the face, arms and legs.

A memorial in Houston for the victims of Astroworld.

(Robert Bumsted / Associated Press)

“He was there for a second and then gone,” said Baig, noting that he was standing in front of Danish and Olivia and was separated in the crowd. “My sister-in-law fell; he tried to save my sister-in-law and in a second they were gone. The crowd just pushed, pushed, hit and did terrible things. “

“I couldn’t find her,” he said, sobbing. “I’ve looked everywhere. And I couldn’t find it. “

Baig, who lives outside of Houston, said Swingle, his brother’s childhood sweetheart, was hospitalized Friday night. On Sunday, he said, she came to the funeral with bruises on her face and body.

“She still has blood in her eyes,” he said.

Houston officials investigated what led to the deadly riot, which also resulted in injuries to concert-goers, including a 10-year-old who was hospitalized in critical condition. The Houston coroner had not released autopsy results late Sunday.

Houston police and fire services have not commented on the causes of death of the victims. At a press conference on Saturday, they said some concert goers had been kicked. At least one security guard has been treated with the opioid overdose antidote Narcan for a needle stick in the throat, authorities said. Both murder and narcotics investigations are ongoing, according to Houston Police.

At least one lawsuit was filed this weekend in the Harris County District Court in Houston by an injured concert-goer, Manuel Souza, against Travis Scott, concert company Live nation, Co-Organizer of ScoreMore and Scott’s Cactus Jack Records. The lawsuit alleges that concert promoters “did not properly plan the concert and conduct it safely … ignored the extreme risks of harming concert-goers and, in some cases, actively encouraged and encouraged dangerous behavior”.

Baig accused Scott of causing the mayhem and not stopping the show, saying his family are also planning to file a lawsuit.

“He didn’t stop the show because people were dying,” he said, noting that his brother died towards the end of the event. “He’s got blood on his hands. He is responsible for that. Everyone connected to Astroworld is accountable. “

When emergency vehicles snapped into place in front of 50,000 people during the outdoor event, Scott continued his performance. About 30 minutes after his set, which was streaming Apple Music live, the rapper noticed flashing blue and red lights and said, “There’s an ambulance in the crowd. Whoa, whoa, whoa. ”A minute later the music started again and the concert lasted about 40 minutes.

On Sunday, Scott, who had previously tweeted that he was “devastated” by the tragedy, promised investigators “total support”. In an Instagram post, he said, “Any time I could make up something that was going on, I’d stop the show and help (the fans) get the help they need.” He “can never imagine the gravity of the situation,” he added.

Those who died included 14-year-old John Hilgert, a freshman at Memorial High School in Houston, who released a statement confirming his death. On Sunday, supporters tied green ribbons – the school color – around the fence in his honor.

“The boy influenced everyone who met him,” said Justin Higgs, Hilgert’s former baseball coach, wrote on Facebook. “The privilege of being able to train him in these phases of his life.”

Also killed was 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, a junior at Heights High School, where she was on the dance team.

“She was an excellent student and loved to dance,” former teacher Linda Gordon said on Facebook Messenger. “She has a younger brother and sister and they were very close! She had so much potential. “

Gordon said other former students attended the concert and survived.

“I’m still in shock and crying every day,” she said. “… I pray that they will find a solution to prevent something like this from happening again.”

The dead also included Rodolfo Angel Peña, 23, an aspiring model and psychology student from Laredo, Texas; Axel Acosta, 21, a student at Western Washington University; Franco Patino, 21, a student at the University of Dayton; Jacob Jurinek, 20, a student at Southern Illinois University; and Madison Dubiski, 23, from Houston.

“In any case, Axel was a young man with a dynamic future. We extend our condolences to his family on this very sad day, ”said Melynda Huskey, vice president, Enrollment and Student Services, Western Washington University.

Letters, candles and flowers for the victims of Astroworld.

Letters, candles and flowers for the victims of Astroworld.

(Alex Bierens de Haan / Getty Images)

Some of Dubiski’s relatives visited a makeshift memorial outside the arena where the concert was taking place on Sunday but declined to comment. A portrait of Dubiski – long blond hair draped over a pink cloak – was placed between rows of bouquets of flowers and notes thrown off by those who flocked by all day to pay their respects.

Among them was Maximiliano Alvarado, 20, from Houston, who texted a friend who was hospitalized after an ankle injury at the concert.

“I’m only here to support,” said Alvarado.

Leya Contreras, 24, came from San Antonio to pay her respects to her mother after attending the concert where she said she escaped the hustle and bustle of the crowd only to see a woman being resuscitated.

“It could have been my daughter,” said Bonnie Contreras, 39, as they faced photos of Dubiski, Patino and other victims among dozens of bouquets of flowers on the arena fence.

The Times writer Suzy Esposito, based in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.


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