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Someone in the crowd at the Astroworld festival was reportedly "injecting other people with drugs" before several people were killed in a stampede, Houston police have revealed.
At least eight people are said to have been crushed to death — including a 14-year-old — and many more injured during rap superstar Travis Scott’s sold-out performance on Friday night (local time).
Authorities have confirmed a criminal investigation has been launched after a disturbing theory involving "needle spiking" emerged following the "mass casualty event".
Needle spiking is a terrifying new trend where unsuspecting victims are jabbed with an unknown substance.
City Police Chief Troy Finner said one report involved a security officer "who felt a prick in his neck" as he was trying to restrain or grab someone.
The man then fell unconscious, only to be revived with a dose of the opioid antidote NARCAN from medical staff who noted what appeared to be a needle mark on the officer's neck.
It’s not yet clear whether detectives suspect such allegations played a role in the crowd surge, but Finner vowed, "we're going to get down to the bottom of it."
The chaos unfolded at Houston's NRG park around 9.30pm on Friday (local time) following what police and festival goers have described as an escalation of unruly behaviour, which sent panic rippling through the largely young crowd of 50,000 people.
Nick Johnson, 17, said he witnessed a steady rise of disruptive behaviour before the stampede.
"It was going on for over two hours, and it just got worse and worse," he said.
Some audience members fell unconscious and others apparently suffering cardiac arrest as the harrowing crowd surge edged the stage.
"It happened all at once. It seemed like it just happened ... over the course of just a few minutes," said Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was at the front of the event when the situation began.
Horrifying footage captures chaos
Distraught festival-goers have been caught on camera screaming for help during the deadly crush.
Distressing vision has emerged on TikTok showing a woman scrambling up a ladder to scale a camera tower hovering over the heaving crowd.
“There’s someone dead, stop the show,” she can be heard crying.
She frantically points and screams again when no one responds.
“There’s someone dying in there, there’s someone dying in there”.
Another man is then seen climbing up to desperately beg for assistance in the short clip.
“Stop the show, stop the show,” he can be heard shouting.
A separate video showed people waving toward the stage and chanting "stop the show!"
Prior to the show, hundreds of revellers were filmed pushing over a gate and stumbling to the ground and over each other as they tried to get into the festival grounds.
13 festival-goers in hospital
Some 25 people were rushed to hospital by ambulance following the stampede.
At least 13 of those, five of whom are under 18, were still hospitalised on Saturday (local time).
The eight people who died were aged between 14 to 27.
The investigation into the tragic incident is likely to focus on security and safety protocols.
Two weeks ago, another Houston concert was cancelled after fans pushed into a Playboi Carti show being held within the same NRG Park complex.
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