Astroworld Festival death toll rises to 9 as Bharti Shahani, 22, dies from injuries

A ninth person has died as a result of injuries sustained at Friday's Astroworld Festival disaster — as Travis Scott continues to try to support the victims.

Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old Texas A&M student who was in critical condition and not showing brain activity, has died, her family said Thursday.

Shahani was at the concert with her sister and cousin but they were split up when the crowd surge started. Her cousin Mohit Bellani told Houston news station KTRK, "people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other... We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive."

Shahani suffered multiple heart attacks amid the frenzy. She was taken by ambulance to Houston Methodist Hospital, with paramedics administering CPR on the way, but she succumbed to her critical injuries on Wednesday night.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 05: Travis Scott performs during 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Erika Goldring/WireImage,)
Travis Scott performs during 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on Nov. 5, 2021 in Houston. (Photo: Erika Goldring/WireImage,)

Shahani's family has a GoFundMe to cover costs for them to be at her bedside, raising more than $60,000 so far.

The eight others who died are Axel Acosta, 21; Danish Baig, 27; Madison Dubiski, 23; John Hilgert, 14; Jacob E. Jurinek, 20; Franco Patino, 21; Rudy Peña, 23; Brianna Rodriguez, 16.

On Thursday, the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who attended the show with his dad and was trampled, requested that people "never stop praying." The boy is in a medically induced coma.

Houston native Scott — who was performing at the festival he founded in 2018 — has offered to cover funeral expenses for victims, and his spokesperson has provided an email address to Yahoo Entertainment to help facilitate that.

"Over the last week, Travis Scott and his team have been actively exploring routes of connection with each and every family affected by the tragedy through the appropriate liaisons. He is distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to them as soon as possible, but wants to remain respectful of each family’s wishes on how they’d best like to be connected, the statement said. "To those families who would like to reach out directly to his team, please send an email to the below address where we will have a team on hand to assist."

Scott was photographed for the first time since the tragedy at his show. The Daily Mail had photos of him — well, the back of him — pacing outside his Houston mansion. His lawyer Neal S. Manne was spotted arriving at the home, ushered in by the rapper's large security detail.

The number of lawsuits filed — with Scott, ScoreMore Shows (promotions and management), Live Nation (ticketing), Contemporary Services Corporation (security), Harris County Sports, Convention Corporation (property owner) and even Drake, a special guest performer at the festival, as defendants – just keeps jumping. There are now somewhere between 58 and 68. One lawsuit alone has 110 plaintiffs so far, with the plaintiff attorney saying the number is expected to double by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues into what happened and if there should be criminal charges.

The general timeline is that Scott was performing with guest Drake at about 9 p.m. when the crowd started to surge toward the stage. Some of the approximately 50,000 concertgoers started being crushed and trampled amid the scene. By 9:38 p.m. authorities deemed it a mass-casualty event, and two minutes after that, the first person was treated by medics.

However, amid the flashing lights of an ambulance and medical crews helping ailing concertgoers, Scott continued performing — until approximately 10:15 p.m. Saying he was unaware of the extent of the emergencies in the crowd — in which 100s of people were injured — he wrapped up the show and went to an afterparty, hosted by Drake, at a Dave & Buster's.

While at the party, he learned about the tragedies at the show — and immediately left, sources told Yahoo.

At a press conference Wednesday, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the "ultimate authority to end a show [was] with production and the entertainer, and that should be through communication with public safety officials." Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said something similar — that Scott should have halted his performance — this week on the Today show.

There has been a lot of finger-pointing over the management of the event. A man who was hired to be security for event said he quit on the spot because the venue was so chaotic when he arrived. Medics have said the music was so loud people couldn't hear their radio calls.

On Thursday, the president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighter Association said the district fire chief, whose station was closest to NRG Park, was denied access — twice — by venue security when they attempted to do a standard pre-show walk-through.

Scott's attorney Edwin F. McPherson of McPherson called out the finger-pointing in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment.

“There has been multiple finger-pointing, much of which has been by city officials, who have sent inconsistent messages and have backtracked from original statements," he said.

"Houston Police Chief Troy Finner was quoted in the New York Times as saying 'You cannot just close when you got 50,000 and over 50,000 individuals. We have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that’s that young.' Yet, just a short time later, Chief Finner states the responsibility to stop the show falls on Travis.

"It was reported that the Operations Plan designated that only the festival director and executive producers have authority to stop the show, neither of which is part of Travis’s crew. This also runs afoul of HPD's own previous actions when it shut down the power and sound at this very festival when the performance ran over 5 minutes back in 2019."

It concluded: "Investigations should start proceeding over finger-pointing so that together, we can identify exactly what transpired and how we can prevent anything like this from happening again."

Meanwhile, the investigation will "take weeks, possibly months," Finner also said.

Scott, who's known for his high-octane shows, broke his silence Saturday on social media but has largely let his team do the talking. Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a friend of the singer, is one of them.

"His heart is bleeding for his fans," Rawlings-Blake said on CNN, noting she spent four hours with Scott on Wednesday.

"We're doing everything that he can do in his power to make sure that no fan ever loses their life at another concert," she said. "He is angry. He is upset that this happened... The finger-pointing is ... unproductive. He at his heart wants to reach out to the families. He also wants to reach out to make sure that something like this never happens again."