Gunman suspected of shooting 2 officers is connected to 6 deaths, Austin Police say
A daylong "series of violent incidents" throughout Austin, and stretching to San Antonio, are all connected to one suspected gunman who is now in custody and charged with capital murder, Austin interim Chief of Police Robin Henderson said.
Six people were killed Tuesday and three others injured, Henderson said, warning that the information she released during the 1 a.m. Wednesday news conference was preliminary and could change as the investigation continued. The police chief said the department did not know the tragic events on Tuesday were connected until after the final shooting.
The three people injured include an Austin Independent School District police officer who was shot as he arrived to Northeast Early College High School Tuesday morning, placing the campus on lockdown for much of the school day. The shooting near the Austin school was the first incident the public was aware of involving the alleged gunman.
Suspect connected to San Antonio-area homicides
Police officials now believe the string of shootings and killings began in eastern Bexar County, in a neighborhood just outside San Antonio city limits, where two people were found dead in their home. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Austin Police contacted his office at 7:45 p.m. to say the suspect had links to a house on Port Royal Drive.
When deputies arrived, they found water pouring out of the house and made the decision to force their way inside, Salazar said. The sheriff said his deputies could see a man and a woman in their 50s who were "obviously deceased," noting officers were unable to reach them at the time because of the way the victims were positioned in a small room inside the home.
Salazar said investigators believe the suspect, who he described as a man in his 30s, killed the two that morning before heading to Austin.
APD believes the suspect then shot an Austin ISD police officer in the leg around 10:40 a.m. in the 7200 block of Berkman Drive, just north of Northeast High. AISD Police Chief Wayne Sneed said Tuesday the officer would be released from the hospital soon. AISD said classes and after-school activities at the school were canceled for Wednesday following the shooting near campus. No students were injured.
At 11:59 a.m., several people called 911 for help on Shadywood Drive in a South Austin neighborhood — about 10 miles away from the school — reporting multiple gunshots. Police officers arrived at 12:04 p.m. and began helping two victims, one male and one female, who had been shot, APD Sgt. Destiny Silva said. Both died from their injuries, Silva said.
Hours later, at 4:57 p.m., a male cyclist called 911 and said he had been shot at 5701 W. Slaughter Lane, not far from the Circle C neighborhood in Southwest Austin, Chief Henderson said. The cyclist's injuries were not life threatening.
Day of violent events ends in police chase and crash
At 6:48 p.m., in the Circle C neighborhood, Austin 911 received a call reporting a burglary on Austral Loop. At 6:54 p.m., an APD officer arrived and found the suspect in the home's backyard. The suspect immediately opened fire on the officer, shooting him multiple times, Henderson said. The officer returned fire but the suspect was not shot, the police chief said.
About four minutes later, arriving police officers radioed that the suspect had fled in a vehicle. The officer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Henderson said.
The suspect was then chased by police until he crashed at the intersection of State Highway 45 and FM 1826 — about four miles from the previous shooting — and arrested. The police chief says the suspect had a gun in his possession.
When officers entered the home on Austral Loop, they found two people dead.
In addition to the capital murder charge, Henderson says the suspect, who has not yet been named, was also booked into the Travis County Jail on an outstanding charge of assault with injury-family violence.
"The nature of the relationship, if any, between the victims and the suspect is unknown," Henderson said.
The police chief said body camera video worn by the officers involved would be released within 10 business days, in accordance with APD policy. The officer who fired his gun, who has 12 years of service with the department, will be placed on administrative duty during the investigations into the shooting, Henderson said, noting this is standard APD protocol.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the shootings is asked to call the APD Special Investigations unit at 512-974-6840 or Capital Area Crime Stoppers at 512-472-8477. Tips can also be submitted online anonymously at AustinCrimeStoppers.org.
"I'd like to express my deepest condolences to all the victims and their families who have been affected by this series of tragic events and horrific criminal acts," Henderson said at the conclusion of the news conference.
KUT education reporter Becky Fogel contributed to this story.
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