Houston police chief: Security guard not injected with drugs at Astroworld Festival

Texas

HOUSTON (KXAN) — The Houston police chief said there’s no truth to a widely-circulating story that someone injected a security guard with drugs while working during the deadly crowd surge at the Astroworld Festival.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Chief Troy Finner said police spoke to the security guard in question and asked him about the allegations that “someone had pricked his neck.” However, Finner said the man’s story now “is not consistent with that.”

“He said he was struck in his head. He went unconscious. He woke up in the security tent,” Finner said. “He says no one injected drugs in him.”

Previously, the police chief told reporters about officers looking into claims of possible druggings happening at the festival as well as Narcan, the opioid overdose antidote, being used on the security guard. However, he did not discuss that latter claim in any further detail Wednesday.

In addition to clearing up that drugging rumor, Finner addressed concerns about Houston police handling the ongoing investigation into the crowd surge that killed eight concertgoers and injured hundreds more. He said the department’s homicide unit will remain the lead on the investigation. He also pushed back against the calls from some leaders that an independent law enforcement agency take over now.

“We’re going to hold people accountable,” Finner said. “And I think, to the families, we owe that to them.”

He also responded to a question that meeting Travis Scott, the rapper performing at the time when the crowd rushed the stage Friday night, should affect the fairness of the police department’s investigation.

“I’m a 54-year-old man, 32 years on this [department]. I meet a lot of people. I was born and raised here in Houston,” he said. “If somebody’s referring to a special relationship — if you call meeting [Scott] twice a special relationship…that’s not a close relationship to me. I’ve only spoken to him twice. Let’s put that to rest.”

Finner also would not rule out the possibility of criminal charges eventually being filed. However, he declined to specify which possible crimes officers are looking into now, saying it’s simply too early in the investigation.

“We’re investigating anything, any and every aspect of this,” Finner said. “I and the department owe it to those families, just as said, to look at every aspect of how [and] why it happened.”

Police have already questioned many festival attendees as well as reviewed “hours” of footage from the event, Finner said. He also explained that the Houston Police Department had at least 530 officers at Astroworld on Nov. 5, though their exact locations or responsibilities throughout the event are not yet known.

The same day the Houston police chief shared his update, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the creation of a new task force to look into concert security in light of what happened at Astroworld Festival. The group is set to hold several roundtable discussions and come up with a list of recommendations and strategies to better protect concertgoers, Abbott said.

Travis Scott and festival organizers are already facing a number of lawsuits for the tragedy that unfolded Friday night. Texas attorney Thomas J. Henry filed a $1 million lawsuit on behalf of an Austin victim against Scott, Drake, Live Nation and NRG Stadium. The victim Henry’s office is representing attended the event and was “severely injured” after a stampede began, the lawsuit said.

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