A man who says he was hired to work in a security capacity at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival 2021 has shared details about the training experience, including what ultimately pushed him to walk away from the gig.
Per TMZ, Darius Williams was hired by the event staff and security company Contemporary Services Corporation, who would been contracted by either NRG Park (the site of the festival) or festival promoters. In a video interview, Williams recalled being hired “a few days” before the event that ultimately left eight people dead.
“It was pretty vague exactly what the roles would be,” Williams recalled of the job, a detailed listing for which can be viewed here. “The day before Astroworld, I completed the orientation and the training for the process, and when I arrived on Friday morning around 7 a.m., they were still pretty vague. [They] didn’t really tell us what we would be doing.”
As for the state’s level II security licensing requirement, Williams said the exam was conducted the evening prior to the Houston-set festival. “It was an open book test,” he told TMZ. “The teacher, he was actually giving us the answers as we were going through the books ourselves and trying to hurry up and fill out the answers.”
Immediately after checking in on the first day and walking the perimeter, Williams said he knew the team was “definitely understaffed in every sense of the word.” Williams also recalled worrying that morning what would happen during the show if someone were to rush the gate.
“From what I saw, I would say there was probably one security guard for every 500 to 1,000 people,” he said. “Severely understaffed.”
When Williams told a supervisor that he didn’t want to work the front gates, he says he was offered a different (although still security-related) role. Deciding he didn’t feel prepared for either, he left the event.
“I just decided it would be best to just leave and to just not work the festival altogether because I just had a feeling that I would be in unsafe conditions,” Williams said, adding that he had also heard other workers expressing a desire to walk off the job that day. See more from Williams above.
At a news conference over the weekend, Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said that a crowd began rushing toward the stage at around 9:15 p.m. local time on Friday. A mass casualty incident was declared.
“The crowd for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed—they were unable to escape that situation,” Peña said on Saturday.
Criticism has mounted in the days since the tragedy. On Monday, Scott announced plans to cover the funeral costs for the eight people who died at the festival. The victims ranged in age from 14 to 27 years old. In a video statement shared to Instagram, the Utopia artist said he was “devastated.”