AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the wake of a deadly concert in Houston over the weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott has formed a Texas Task Force on Concert Safety.
Eight people were killed after a crowd surge at the Travis Scott Astroworld music festival in Houston on Nov. 5. The victims ranged in age from 14 to 27 years old, according to Houston officials.
The governor announced the formation of the task force on Wednesday. The task force is expected to produce a report of recommendations and strategies to “ensure concert safety and protect concertgoers.”
“Live music is a source of joy, entertainment, and community for so many Texans — and the last thing concertgoers should have to worry about is their safety and security,” Abbott said in a statement. “To ensure that the tragedy that occurred at the Astroworld Festival never happens again, I am forming the Texas Task Force on Concert Safety. From crowd control strategies to security measures to addressing controlled substances, this task force will develop meaningful solutions that will keep Texans safe while maximizing the joy of live music events. I thank the members of this task force for coming together to work on this important issue.”
Kevin Lawrence is the executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, one of the groups on the task force.
“A tragedy that shouldn’t have happened,” he said.
The task force will hold several roundtable discussions to analyze concert activity and ultimately make recommendations regarding state policies that can be put in place to keep crowds safe.
Lawrence says he expects venue layouts and security will be major topics.
“We typically go with the lowest bidder, and companies will cut corners where they can to try and save costs and maximize profits, and very often security is one of those things that gets trimmed,” he said.
Chase Brunson, who is familiar with the event scene, believes “something failed at that concert,” and he’s happy the state is stepping in to put better event plans in place for the future.
“At these larger venues, we need more security. We need eyes on security. I should be able to look around a crowd and say, ‘I know where security is at, they’re over here, they’re over there,'” he said.
The investigation into the deadly music festival is ongoing, but authorities have identified the eight victims:
- Mirza Baig, 27, from Houston
- Rodolfo Peña, 23, from Laredo
- Madison Dubiski, 23, from Cypress
- Franco Patiño, 21, from Illinois
- Jacob Jurinke, 20, from Illinois
- John Hilgert, 14, from Houston
- Axel Acosta Avila, 21, from Washington
- Brianna Rodriguez, 16, from Houston
The two-day event was underway at NRG Park Stadium and an estimated 50,000 people were in attendance at the time of the incident.
During a press conference Saturday, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner called for calm and urged people not to jump to conclusions about what caused the surge. Authorities said the investigation into why the surge happened will take weeks, possibly even months.
The governor’s task force includes representatives from:
- Texas Music Office
- Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas
- Sheriffs’ Association of Texas
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Texas Municipal Police Association
- Texas Police Chiefs Association
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
- Texas State Association of Fire Fighters