Update: Austin Police Department identified the suspect as 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens of Killeen to the Associated Press. The vehice used was reported stolen from a Ft. Hood soldier. The AP confirmed new details for the deceased victims. One woman was an Austin, Texas resident while a man was a reported Dutch citizen.
TEXAS–Two people died and at least 23 have been injured early Thursday morning after a reportedly drunk driver plowed into a crowd in Austin according to police reports offered to the public. The deadly incident happened at the annual South by Southwest festival.
Breitbart Texas contacted the Austin Police Department this morning. Public Information Officer Veneza Bremner stated that APD has not confirmed the driver was intoxicated–nor was a drunk driving task force in operation, contrary to recent news reports. A follow-up press conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Central time.
Local news reports state that during a news conference at 12:30 a.m., Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo revealed that officers attempted to pull over a man driving a grey Toyota. The driver would not stop–speeding off in the wrong direction on 9th street, a one-way road.
With an officer giving chase, the driver turned onto Red River Street and then drove through a barricade set up for the South by Southwest festival. The Toyota plowed through a crowd of people. A man and woman on a moped were hit and immediately killed. The Huffington Post compiled a collection of social media updates from the scene. After striking numerous people in the crowd and several other vehicles, the driver finally stopped and began to run.
Police were quick to apprehend the driver when on foot. According to the Star-Telegram, the driver will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggregated assault with a vehicle.
Of the 23 people injured, five have serious injuries.
At 4 a.m. this morning, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell released a statement that said, “I have been made aware of the tragic accident that occurred early this morning near 10th and Red River. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, as well as those being treated in area hospitals. First responders rushed to the scene to provide aid to the victims. The Austin Police Department is investigating this matter as allegedly involving drunk driving. If this is true, this fact angers me. Drunk driving is never acceptable, and can lead to deadly consequences.”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate