Published Mar 13, 2014Tragedy has struck the crowded streets of Austin, TX, during the SXSW festival as a suspected drunk driver crashed into a crowd outside of the Mohawk venue last night (March 12). Two people are dead and 23 are injured, with five listed in critical condition.
The venue, which is located at 9th Street and Red River Street, was hosting a House of Vans show featuring performances from Tyler, the Creator, X, the Black Angels and more. A suspected drunk driver crashed into the crowd outside, killing a man and a women who were riding on a moped.
The New York Times points to a statement from Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, who explained the driver fled from police when a drunk-driving patrol officer tried to stop the vehicle. The driver refused to pull over, instead breaking through the police barricade that was blocking Red River Street, hitting a moped, a taxi, a van, other vehicles and pedestrians.
The driver then got out of his car and ran away. When he resisted arrest, a police officer tasered him.
Speaking with Dallas News (which you can watch below), Acevedo said the driver is being charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault. The police chief also asked for anyone with any information about the incident to come forward.
UPDATE: In a press conference this morning, Acevedo revealed eight people remain in the hospital, with two still in critical condition and three receiving treatment and/or surgery. He said, "We cannot allow one individual to ruin a wonderful event. I urge SXSW to continue."
UPDATE 2: The suspect has identified as 21-year-old Rashad Owens of Killeen, TX. He was reportedly at the festival to perform under his rap moniker KillingAllBeatz or K.A.B254. Owens is currently in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $3 million.
SXSW also issued the following statement:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic accident that took place last night here in Austin.
We appreciate and commend the first responders, as well as the city agencies who so quickly sprung into action.
We will be making schedule and venue changes for programming in the surrounding area of last night's events. All other programming will continue as previously scheduled.
Please watch sxsw.com and twitter.com/sxsw for updates throughout the day.
SXSW managing director Roland Swenson also released this statement:
The SXSW staff is stunned and deeply moved by the events of last night.
Dozens of us were on the scene when the incident occurred and we worked closely with APD to create a perimeter around the area, turning back all the visitors spilling out of the clubs who headed north on Red River Street.
To avoid confusion we plan to carry on with our scheduled daytime events at the Austin Convention Center in order to serve our tens of thousands of participants during this tragic time.
All of the SXSW staff and volunteers reported for their regular duties this morning and will continue working today on the event.
We are contacting all of the venues to find out if they have made any decisions about their operations that might impact our visitors.
Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels. As much as we would like to just go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel our best use is to continue to operate today.
One of the fatalities was a SXSW registrant, a gentleman from the Netherlands. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and with the families of the fatalities.