Astroworld: Half of victims' families reject Travis Scott's funeral costs offer

Published
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Rapper Travis Scott says he is devastated by what happened at the Astroworld festival

Travis Scott's offer to pay the funeral costs of Astroworld victims has been rejected by half of the bereaved families.

This includes the family of nine-year-old Ezra Blount - the youngest of 10 concertgoers killed during a crush at the rapper's festival in Texas.

Scott made the offer last week, amid multiple lawsuits over the tragedy.

A lawyer for the family of 14-year-old John Hilgert called the gesture "demeaning and inappropriate".

"Of all the things this case is about, that's the least of any concern," he told Rolling Stone.

"This family is set on making change, and ensuring this never happens at a concert again."

The crowd surge occurred during Scott's headline set on Friday, 5 November. At the time, there were about 50,000 people attending the festival at Houston's NRG Park complex.

Ten of the victims have now died. The eldest was 27.

Blount, who lived in Dallas, died nine days after the concert. He had previously been placed in medically induced coma due to the severity of his injuries.

'Lessen public outcry'

Scott's lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, wrote to the nine-year-old's family the day after his funeral, on 23 November, offering to pay for the service.

"Travis is devastated by the tragedy that occurred at the Astroworld Festival and grieves for the families whose loved ones died or were injured," the letter read.

"Travis is committed to doing his part to help the families who have suffered and begin the long process of healing in the Houston community. Toward that end, Travis would like to pay for the funeral expenses for Mr Blount's son."

The family immediately declined the offer, said their lawyer Bob Hilliard.

"I have no doubt Mr Scott feels remorse," he wrote in a letter to the musician's representative. "His journey ahead will be painful. He must face and hopefully see that he bears some of the responsibility for this tragedy."

Other families have portrayed the rapper's offer as an attempt to repair his public image.

Philip Corboy, the lawyer for the families of 21-year-old friends Jacob Jurinek and Franco Patino, said the rapper's approach through legal teams had left the impression "that all he was trying to do was... lessen the public outcry".

"If he's trying to impress upon the families that he's sincere and has concern for them and realise that funerals can be expensive, what Scott's team did is not the way to do it," Corboy added.

"You don't get a piece of paper in the mail from a lawyer in Beverly Hills who says he represents Travis Scott. These families are raw right now; that lacks any personal touch."

Tony Buzbee, representing the family of Axel Acosta, 21, also questioned Scott's motives in choosing to make the announcement through "a press release for everyone to see".

"He says he feels sorry for them but he's quick to say it wasn't his fault. He's no different than any defendant pointing fingers to someone else. They don't want funeral expenses from him. Whatever we get from him we're going to get through the court system."

Scott, one of the biggest names in rap music, launched Astroworld with concert promoters Live Nation in 2018.

Media caption,
"I'm honestly just devastated" – Travis Scott posted this video on Instagram

The 30-year-old has asked victims to reach out to him, saying he "desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid", according to a statement.

He also stated in an Instagram video that he was not aware how bad the situation had become during his set.

"Any time I could make out anything that's going on, I just stopped the show and helped them get the help they need," he said. "I could just never imagine the severity of the situation."

'Time to grieve'

Separately, rapper Megan Thee Stallion has cancelled a Houston tour date this Friday, as a sign of respect to the Astroworld victims.

The Houston native performed at a previous edition of Scott's festival in 2019.

"Houston is still healing and it's important that our community be given the appropriate time to grieve," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

"My heart goes out to all the families that are suffering during this difficult time," she added.

Meanwhile, event safety organisers in 15 countries, including the UK and US, have created a new body to develop and promote unified safety standards around the world.

The Global Crowd Management Alliance, which was launched on Tuesday, was initially created in response to the pandemic. In a statement, its deputy chair Steve Adelman said recent incidents have shown that "crowd management remains an essential issue for everyone".

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

More on this story