Two people were killed along a busy stretch of venues on Red River street in Austin at the South by Southwest music festival early Thursday after a car crashed through temporary barricades into a crowd of pedestrians.
Police Lt. Brian Moon told the Associated Press that two were dead and 23 injured in the accident which happened around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday morning outside the Mohawk, a club on the corner of 10th and Red River where the veteran punk band X were playing. Police said 23 people were taken to the hospital, five with critical injuries.
At a press briefing Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said that a suspect in custody would be charged with two count of capitol murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.
The car had been stopped by police checking for drunk drivers at a nearby Shell station. The driver then weaved through traffic to avoid police and fled by driving the wrong way down a one way street "at a high rate of speed," Acevedo said.
Many streets are shut off to cars during the music festival. A police officer guarding a barricade on foot moved to avoid being hit by the car, Acevedo said, and the suspect continued on, striking multiple pedestrians on Red River and crashing into a moped and a taxi.
The male adult on a bike and the female on the moped were pronounced dead on the scene. After crashing into a van, the driver attempted to flee on foot and was tased by police before being taken into custody. Acevedo urged witnesses to not post video online and to contact police at 512-974-5186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday morning, South by Southwest issued a statement saying: "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." Lady Gaga is scheduled to perform nearby Thursday night at Stubb's BBQ.
"We do these events very well," Acevedo said. "But you cannot stop a person who decides, rather than face potential drunk driving charges, to continue at a high rate of speed, go around a uniformed officer forcing him to run out of the way, then at a high rate of speed show total disregard for human life."
"Nothing like this has happened at SXSW during the seven years I've been chief officer," Acevedo said.
The crash happened on the first full scale night of the SXSW music festival, at which over 2000 acts from all over the world will play this week. the festival runs through Saturday. Shows were canceled along Red River after the crash, including one by rapper Tyler the Creator, who scheduled to follow X on stage. He tweeted,"Show Isnt Happening, Something Sad Happened. I'm bummed."
Rocco Avallone took the picture of the scene. More of his photos are here.