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At least one of two suspects is a juvenile in Austin shooting that injured 14

Blood stains remain in the street in Austin, Texas, where a man shot at least 14 people on June 12, 2021. (Aaron E. Martinez/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)

A suspect arrested in connection with the mass shooting on Austin’s 6th Street that wounded 14 is a juvenile, and authorities Sunday were still considering what charges he will face, officials told the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV.

Police and prosecutors have up to 48 hours from the time of a person’s arrest to file charges against him. The suspect’s age was not immediately released, and because he is not an adult, his identity and court records in the case likely will remain confidential.

Officials also were continuing efforts Sunday to locate a second suspect, and it was not immediately clear if that person also is a juvenile.

Those details emerged after Austin’s 6th Street entertainment district, filled with revelers resuming post-pandemic life, again became the scene of chaos and bloodshed early Saturday when at least 14 people were wounded in a mass shooting that intensified questions about public safety and gun violence in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities.

Interim Police Chief Joe Chacon said the shooters could face a range of charges that include attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

“It was very difficult to contain the scene. It was very difficult for EMS to make their way into this crowd,” interim Police Chief Chacon said of the chaotic scene that first responders initially faced on East 6th Street in the moments after Saturday’s shooting.

Officials said most of the victims, whose injuries ranged from moderate to critical, were innocent bystanders. Chacon said he believes no one died because of swift and heroic actions his officers took.

The shooting marked the most significant mass casualty incident local emergency officials have responded to citywide since 2014 — an incident that happened in the same area when a man plowed his car into a crowded, barricaded street during South by Southwest. Four people died, and 30 were injured. Although no one died in Saturday’s shooting, the incident also marked the first time that many people were shot in one event in Austin since the infamous mass shooting from the University of Texas Tower in 1966 that left 15 dead.

Interim Police Chief Joe Chacon says shooters involved in Saturday’s incident could face a range of charges that include attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The scene began unfolding at the height of a typical weekend night on 6th Street. Austin-Travis County EMS medics responded at 1:25 a.m. to what they described as an “active attack” in the 400 block of East 6th Street. Officials said security video footage they reviewed as part of the investigation showed victims enjoying themselves one moment, then dropping to the ground from injuries as shots rang out. When first responders arrived, they found people covered in blood and sprawled out on the street and sidewalk.

“It was very difficult to contain the scene. It was very difficult for EMS to make their way into this crowd,” Chacon said.

Police told the American-Statesman that the crowd in the city’s entertainment district at the time was near the size of a pre-pandemic group, meaning potentially tens of thousands of people gathered in the area anchored by East 6th Street. The Republic of Texas biker rally is happening in Austin this weekend, which typically draws thousands of motorcyclists to the city and to the entertainment district. But Chacon said they have no information that the rally played any role in the violence.

Amid the chaos, medics tended to the most seriously wounded and raced them to the hospital.

Dramatic video shows Austin police officers racing toward the scene, then administering first aid to some of the victims. Cameras captured two officers carrying a woman wearing red high heels, and, in other footage, officers could be seen crouched over a victim in the street providing help. Police said that as ambulances struggled to reach the area, officers put victims in squad cars and other police vehicles to drive them to the hospital a few blocks away.

“We had a lot of trouble getting our command vehicles and ambulances where they needed to be — the streets were blocked off, the crowds were so heavy, and there was so much chaos,” Selena Xie, union president for Austin-Travis County EMS, said of Saturday’s shooting.

“We had a lot of trouble getting our command vehicles and ambulances where they needed to be — the streets were blocked off, the crowds were so heavy, and there was so much chaos,” said Selena Xie, union president for Austin-Travis County EMS. “That’s why police have mounted units (on horseback), because that is much easier to maneuver than a vehicle.”

The shooting instantly sparked renewed conversation not only about safety in Austin’s cherished entertainment district, but also about a sharp rise in gun violence in the city overall. Police statistics show that gun crimes went from 689 in 2015 to 1,054 in 2020, a 53% increase.

“This is emblematic of that,” Chacon said. “It continues, and it is something we are trying to work to decrease.”

Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement Saturday that the uptick “locally is part of a disturbing rise in gun violence across the country as we exit the pandemic. APD and the City Council have initiated multiple violence prevention efforts in response, but this crisis requires a broader, coordinated response from all levels of government.”

Last month, council members voted on a measure to expedite getting a series of gun violence prevention programs in place. Other officials, including Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza and County Attorney Delia Garza, have adopted other programs, such as a requirement that some defendants released on bond must surrender any firearm as a condition of getting out of jail.

The city’s response to the rise in violence comes as Austin is searching for its next police chief.

In the three months that Chacon has served as interim chief, the shooting was the second major incident that has drawn a significant law enforcement response. The other involved the shooting of three people near the Arboretum that initially was reported as an active shooter incident and search for the suspect in what police later described as domestic violence. Former Travis County sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Broderick, was found and arrested the next morning in connection with that shooting.

State officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, also addressed Saturday’s shooting. Abbott said in a statement that the Texas Department of Public Safety is working closely with the Austin Police Department to “ensure that the perpetrators are captured and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

During the just-completed legislative session, Republican lawmakers successfully passed several bills loosening gun restrictions, including a measure that would allow anyone 21 or older who can legally possess a firearm in Texas to carry a handgun in public without a permit. Current state law allows residents 21 or older to carry a handgun only after completing training and criminal background check to obtain a license to carry. House Bill 1927, known as constitutional carry by gun rights advocates, has long been a legislative priority of many conservative Republican lawmakers, and Abbott has said he will sign the bill.

Other GOP bills approved this year will allow school marshals to carry concealed guns instead of keeping them locked away, let hotel guests bring guns to their rooms, remove sales taxes for firearm safety equipment and lift Texas-made firearm silencers from the state’s list of prohibited weapons.

Taylor Blount was at a bar on 6th Street early Saturday when he heard a barrage of gunshots.

Blount, 26, said he ran inside a bar, closed the door and locked it because he could not immediately determine where the shots were from.

Moments later, when he believed it to be safe, Blount said he went outside and saw police officers dragging a man who had been shot in the chest to safety and then performing first aid on him.

“It was very intense.”

Javier Garza, who lives on 6th Street, said he was asleep when the shooting happened, but awoke to notice that all of the music outside had stopped.

“Next thing I know, there was police everywhere,” he said. “I tried to come out at 5 a.m. and there was yellow tape across my door. Police said I had to stay in.”

Garza said he has lived in Austin for 22 years but is considering buying property outside of the city.

“I chose this place because it was really convenient for work, but in light of recent events, it’s just time to get out,” he said.



Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.