The South By SouthWest Festival (SXSW) was shaken to the core today when a car drove through barricades and into a crowd of festival goers outside of the Mohawk music club on Red River Street in Austin.
Two people were pronounced dead at the scene, with 25 more taken to hospital, several with serious injuries and five in a critical condition. The driver attempted to flee on foot before he was stunned with a Taser gun and detained by the police.
The driver, named by police as Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen, was being pursued by police, after he had evaded being stopped earlier. He hit a taxi and a parked car, and then smashed through the barricades, when a cyclist and a scooter passenger were killed.
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According to the Statesman:
Scott Jakota, a musician from Indiana in town to play SXSW, said he was one of the first people hit. He said the driver "gunned" the car, "and I was thrown up in the sky." He appeared to have a leg injury and was being helped by his friends.
Ally Hulton, a 28-year-old from Los Angeles, was smoking a cigarette on the balcony of her friend's apartment on Red River when she saw a car drive down the street "at full speed" before hitting someone. It then appeared to accelerate into a crowd of people. "About 10 bodies went flying," Hulton said.
A Statesman photographer on the balcony of the Mohawk at the time of the incident said he saw some bystanders attempting to provide first aid to victims while others sat stunned on curbs with their hands over their mouths. He said the band playing at the time, X, finished its set, unaware of what had happened.
Police Chief Art Acevedo said the man will face two charges of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault.
A video report can be seen here:
Condolences and thoughts are with all of those affected, and their family and friends.
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