Driver Crashes Through SXSW Crowd, Killing 2 And Injuring 23
We'll be posting updates with new information and eyewitness accounts throughout the day.
A driver plowed through a barricade into a crowd of people in downtown Austin where South By Southwest Festival events were happening around 12:30 a.m. A woman on a moped and a male cyclist were killed and dozens of others were injured, three critically. The driver had been fleeing from police after trying to avoid a sobriety checkpoint that had been set up nearby. Police have the driver in custody, identified as 21-year-0ld Rashad Charjuan Owens, and are charging him with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.
UPDATE: Two Fort Worth Teens Among Injured; SXSW venues will continue with shows (5:30 p.m.)
Curtisha Davis, an 18-year-old from Fort Worth, was among those listed as injured by the Austin Police Department. Also injured was Deandre Tatum, a classmate of Davis' at Trimble Tech High School. KERA spoke with her briefly while she was at the hospital with him.
SXSW and music venues Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie's said they would continue with their scheduled shows tonight after initially canceling their planned programs because of the incident.
SXSW, Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie’s staff, after consultation with the Austin Police Department and the City of Austin officials, have determined that with very heavy hearts, they will open for business this evening at 7:00 p.m.for their regularly scheduled SXSW official showcases. “After talking with the Austin Police Department, we have determined that the most prudent course of action is to move forward with the SXSW shows scheduled at the Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie's tonight. If we were to turn away potentially thousands of people who will arrive to see the shows, it would create a serious safety issue,” said SXSW Founder Roland Swenson.
The press release also announced the creation of SXSW Cares, a fund created to help those who were affected by last night's event.
UPDATE: North Texans among witnesses of horrific crash in front of music club (2:30 p.m.)
KERA Producer Lyndsay Knecht spoke with North Texans who were waiting to get into The Mohawk, the music venue outside of which many people were hurt. Jesse Hidalgo from Arlington said he noticed one of the club's security guards urging people to get out of the street onto the sidewalk.
“And then next thing you know you hear you this this huge like horrific 'THUMP,'” he told Knecht. “I was actually looking to my left. When I heard the sound I looked to my right and there was a bunch of people flying up in the air.”
You can hear Jesse's and other witness accounts here.
A Dutch music company says an employee was one of the victims who died in the incident. Massive Music identified him as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr.
UPDATE: KUT has confirmed the ID of driver in the SXSW crash (1:30 p.m.)
21-year old Rashad Charjuan Owens from Killeen has been booked at the Travis County Jail for two counts of capital murder.
The Austin Police Department has also announced via their Twitter account that the American Red Cross Central Texas has a list of names of the injured. If you would like to check if someone you know may have been injured in this incident, call the Red Cross at 1-800-928-4271.
The Mohawk tweeted they have canceled all of today's shows and are figuring out the "next steps" with SXSW and the city.
UPDATE: Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo held a press conference this morning with Austin Mayor Tom Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Austin Fire Dept. Chief of Staff Harry Evans, EMS Chief of Staff James Shamard, and SXSW managing director Roland Swenson.
Acevedo said the woman who was killed was from the Austin area and the male cyclist was from the Netherlands. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. He did not release the name of the driver or any information about his history. When pressed about the effectiveness of the barricades that were set up, Acevedo said, "When somebody acts intentionally, it's very difficult to stop."
Here is the audio:
South By Southwest released a statement earlier this morning about the incident:
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 this website and twitter.com/sxsw for updates throughout the day.
Many victims were hit in front of the Mohawk, a music venue that was hosting SXSW shows. Here is a tweet they sent this morning:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims from tonight's tragedy. Make sure everyone you know is home safe tonight.— Mohawk Austin (@mohawkaustin) March 13, 2014