After eight people died in a mass casualty event at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival on Friday, 24-year-old DJ Billy Nasser says the scenes of chaos keep replaying in his head.
“I couldn’t really sleep last night. I was still hearing the screams of people in my head,” Nasser tells PEOPLE on Sunday, two days after attending the event at NRG Park in Houston.
The Indianapolis resident, who is an avid festivalgoer, says the Astroworld Festival — where 300 people were also injured — “wasn’t safe.” He says, “This is like the 9/11 of music festivals. It’s bad; they’re never going to be the same after this.”
“Basically, there was overcrowding at the festival. The way the barricades were set up wasn’t safe for 50,000 to 100,000 people. The barricades was set up to fit maybe about five to ten thousand and it was basically just a death trap,” Nasser recalls.
He also tells PEOPLE that fans were already getting “squished” and “falling on the floor” before Scott’s performance, but once the 30-year-old rapper hit the stage, the situation quickly escalated.
Nasser says, “People were just drowning. There was layers of people on the floor and people couldn’t see what was behind them. They were just tripping over the people that were on the floor and causing mass piles.”
- Eight people reported dead, others hospitalised following incident at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival show
Nasser, who attended the festival as a devoted Scott fan, dressed in a set of scrubs for the festival as he usually does for his DJ sets.
He says that because of his outfit “people thought I was a real doctor in the crowd and they were calling for medic. ‘Doctor, doctor, help, help.’ And they were just showing me all the dead bodies, where everyone was out on the ground.”
“I was trying to pull people up,” he explains. “I’ve never seen a dead body before. So when I was holding onto these kids, I thought they were just passed out or asleep. I was trying to slap them awake. I was holding this kid’s head up, trying to lift him up. And then his eyes were rolled the back of his head. So when I realized he was dead, I realized everyone around us on the floor was basically done.”
Nasser says he and his girlfriend revisited the traumatic event on Saturday by watching videos other concertgoers posted of the mass hysteria.
“You could hear the screams of people. And just seeing that, I keep seeing this kid’s face in my head, over and over. And it’s just gut wrenching. I keep grabbing my chest and my heart, it’s just — I don’t know how to cope with it yet, really,” he says.
John Hilgert, 14, Brianna Rodriguez, 16, Franco Patino, 21, Axel Acosta, 21, Jacob Jurinek, 21, Rudy Pena, 23, and Danish Baig, 27, have been identified as seven of the eight victims who died in the tragedy.
A source close to Scott told PEOPLE that the rapper was unaware of the magnitude of the situation while on stage. “The lights were shining in his eyes and he couldn’t see what was happening,” said the source. “He thought someone had just passed out, which happens during concerts.”
In a statement shared on Saturday, Scott said he was “absolutely devastated” by the events that took place. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival,” the rapper posted on Twitter. “Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life.”
He continued, “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need. Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department and NRG Park for their immediate response and support.”