Shortly after midnight on Thursday morning, during a routine DWI check set up by Austin Police, a suspected drunk driver broke ranks, wove through traffic, drove at high speeds the wrong way down a one-way street to avoid pursuit, broke through a police barricade and plowed into a large number of pedestrians who were exiting a music venue as part of the South-By-Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival.
Two minutes later, two people were dead, and twenty-three others were injured—five critically.
According to Austin Police, the suspected male motorist, currently unnamed, was allegedly attempting to evade arrest at a DWI checkpoint at around 12:30 a.m. when he weaved his vehicle through a gas station and turned the wrong way down a one-way street at a high-rate of speed. When an officer attempted pursuit in a patrol car, the suspect sped up and broke through a barricade set up to close off Red River Street for the SXSW festival. He drove for two blocks at high speeds, hitting a number of pedestrians along the way. He also hit a man and woman on a moped and crashed his car into a taxi before taking off on foot. A police officer overtook the man and tased him in order to bring him into custody.
The event instantly sent shock waves through the crowds as festival goers scrambled to post to social media, Tweeting and posting news of the accident and asking whether friends and loved ones were okay. The couple on the moped were pronounced dead at the scene, while the injured were treated at a nearby hospital.
Art Acevedo, Austin chief of police, said in a statement to the press (which you can view below) that the suspect will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 charges of aggravated assault. He also asked witnesses of the incident to come forward and for any photos and videos taken of the event to be submitted to police rather than posted to the Internet, out of respect for the victims.
Several shows were cancelled as an immediate result of the accident. A portion of Red River Street remains closed during the investigation. Otherwise no announcements of further cancellations have been made at press time.
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