Rodolfo “Rudy” Peña was the youngest of five siblings and the undisputed “favorite” of his tight-knit family when he attended Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston on Friday – and never returned, his eldest sister tells Rolling Stone.
“My God, how do I even describe him? He was the sweetest person. He was responsible. He was there for everybody,” Jennifer Peña says. “He loved to be close to his friends and family. He helped a lot. He was always smiling. He would come to me for advice. I loved that.”
A former wide receiver on his varsity football team at Joseph W. Nixon High School in Laredo, the 23-year-old Laredo College student loved music, dancing and cowboy gear and was studying criminology with the goal of one day working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, his family says.
Instead of fulfilling his dreams, he became one of the eight people who senselessly lost their lives in the crowd-control disaster at NRG Park. The tragedy, which injured hundreds more, is now part of a criminal investigation involving the Houston Police Department’s homicide division.
“He was everyone’s favorite. We’re in shock,” Jennifer says. “It’s hard for all of us, but for my mom, she’s devastated. We had to look for a psychologist. She’s not in this world right now. She says she’s angry. She doesn’t know how to process the pain. She says nobody knows the pain that she’s feeling. We’re a super united family. We’re very close.”
Jennifer tells Rolling Stone it was one week ago that she saw her baby brother for the last time at her family’s regular Sunday dinner. During the week, Rudy filled his days with studying and working as an assistant to a physical therapist.
“Whenever we would feel down, he’d say, ‘Come here, I’ll give you a hug.’ He made us all feel better. He was so positive, always in a happy mood. With his smile, he would shine,” she says. “We have a hole in our hearts. We lost a very special person in our lives.”
She said her family wants answers but has received few so far. “I don’t have any words. I don’t understand how it went down,” she says. “That concert took my little brother.”
Her husband Sergio Gonzalez was more direct: “Who’s going to be held responsible? This rapper? The police department of Houston? The organizers of the concert? Something happened. We are watching videos of people in the audience trying to stop the concert, and nobody did anything. He was singing and Rudy was dying. We have a lot of videos. Why did this happen? I want answers. All the family does.”
Jennifer and her husband were escorting Rudy’s mother back to Laredo from Houston on Sunday when they spoke to Rolling Stone. Gonzalez, 35, said authorities told the family it was too soon to see Rudy’s body, so they turned around and headed home.
“They didn’t even tell us where the body is. They didn’t give anything to us. They said in two to three more days, they’ll send his body to Laredo,” Gonzalez said with frustration.
And contrary to some reports, Gonzalez said Travis Scott’s camp has not reached out directly to the family to offer help with funeral arrangements. “We haven’t received any calls, no apology. Not anything. I’m not sure if he’s the one who’s responsible, but he hasn’t talked to us,” Gonzalez said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up in Rudy’s honor to help the family with funeral costs, he confirmed.