AUSTIN, Texas – Police in Austin have arrested a man in a nighttime shootout that injured 14 people, officials said. The arrest was made by Austin police and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force.
The arrest came after the city’s Sixth Street entertainment district, filled with revelers resuming post-pandemic life, again became the scene of chaos and bloodshed early on Saturday, escalating questions about public safety and gun violence in one of the country’s most dynamic cities.
Police previously said they had focused on two suspects involved in a previous dispute and were working quickly to arrest them.
Acting Police Chief Joe Chacon said he was confident investigators would soon be able to unravel more details of what sparked the gunfire and suspects could face a slew of charges which include attempted murder and aggravated assault with a lethal weapon.
Authorities say the shooter appears to have fired at random. Officials said they believed most of the victims, whose injuries ranged from moderate to critical, were innocent bystanders.
Of the 14 injured, 12 were in stable condition and two in critical condition.
Police said the shooting appears to be an isolated incident, but the investigation is ongoing. Investigators are aided by the FBI and off-duty detectives from various units.
The shooting marked the largest mass incident emergency services responded to across the city since 2014 in an incident that also occurred in the same area when four people died and 30 were injured after that a man drove his car into a crowded and barricaded street.
Other U.S. cities – including Chicago and Savannah – also saw shootings with multiple victims Friday night through Saturday morning, marking the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Austin-Travis County EMS medics responded at 1:25 am to what they described as an “active attack.” When first responders arrived, they found people covered in blood and lying in the street and sidewalk.
Medics took four people to hospital by ambulance, Austin police took six more to hospital and three were taken by private vehicle, EMS officials said.
“It was very difficult to contain the scene, it was very difficult for EMS to make their way through this crowd,” said Acting Austin Police Chief Joe Chacon. “And due to the nature of the injuries, the police had to go ahead and use their police vehicles to put some of these gunshot victims into their vehicles and transport them themselves.”
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Police told the American-Statesman, who is part of the USA TODAY Network, that the crowd in the city’s entertainment district at the time was close to the size of a “pre-pandemic” group. which potentially means tens of thousands of people gathered in the area anchored by Sixth Street.
The Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally in Austin this weekend also typically draws thousands of motorcyclists to the city and the Entertainment District.
At the time of the attack, “a large crowd of people began to disperse in the area,” police said in a statement on Saturday.
“The officers first located several victims who had been shot and wounded,” and began treating people, police said.
Taylor Blount was in a Sixth Street bar when he heard a barrage of gunfire.
“I only heard them from one gun and then everyone started running in different directions,” he said. “People were panicking a lot, and there were people crying, but most of the people were just panicking.
Blount, 26, said he ran inside a bar, closed the door and locked it because he couldn’t immediately determine where the shots were coming from.
Moments later, when he believed it was safe, he said he went out and saw police drag a man who had been shot in the ribs to safety, then lavish the first on him. care. “It was very intense,” he said.
Chacon said the city has seen an increase in gun violence in recent months.
“So it’s just iconic of that,” he said. “And this is something that we are trying to reduce.”