Emergency services personnel stretcher a person who was
struck by the car. REUTERS/Jay Janner/American-Statesman
A car evading a police sobriety checkpoint ploughed into
a crowd at high speed outside a nightclub in Austin, killing
two people and injuring 23 near the South by Southwest
festival, police say.
The driver, identified only as a black male, fled from police
and was subdued by an officer using a stun gun after the
incident near the SXSW festival. He will face two counts of
capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a
vehicle, police said.
The two people killed were a Texas woman who was riding on a
moped and a Dutch man who was riding a bicycle, Austin Police
Chief Art Acevedo told a news conference.
"This is an individual that showed no regard for the human
beings that he plowed into in his attempt to get away,"
Acevedo said of the suspect, whose name was to be released
when he was formally charged later on Thursday,
Acevedo said police had taken blood samples from the man and
have video of the incident from a police dashboard camera.
The suspect was asked to pull over at a sobriety check point
and instead sped away from a police car. He smashed through a
police barricade and then plowed down people, some of them
lined up outside a nightclub, over a span of two blocks.
Witnesses said victims were flying in the air after being
The suspect then tried to flee on foot but was subdued by an
officer with the stun gun.
Emergency medical teams, on standby for the festival,
responded quickly and the most severely injured victims were
transported to nearby hospitals, officials said.
"All of our critical patients were off the scene within 15
minutes of the time we received the first call," James
Shamard, chief of staff for Travis County EMS, told the news
Five of the victims were initially in critical condition and
two remained in that condition after suffering head injuries,
medical officials said. Five other victims were initially
listed as being in serious condition.
The suspect had minor injuries and was treated at the same
hospital as many of the victims. He was then taken into
police custody, hospital officials said.
SXSW, running from March 7 to 16, began as a music event in
1987. It features technology conferences, a film festival and
music shows that draw tens of thousands of people to the
Texas capital annually.
Many roads in downtown Austin are closed to traffic each
night of the event as thousands take to restaurants, bars,
clubs and movie theaters. Police set up numerous checkpoints
in the area to look for people suspected of driving under the
Roland Swenson, the festival's managing director, said the
event would continue.
"As much as we would just like to go home and spend time
absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel that our
best use is to continue to operate today," he said.