A shooter opened fire in a busy nightlife district of downtown Austin and injured at least 13 people before fleeing. Two of the people injured were in critical condition. Law enforcement investigators are watching video from the scene to try to determine the identity of the shooter that authorities believe was a man.
The shooting began shortly before 1:30 a.m. and paramedics responded to what they described as an “active attack.” They took four people to the hospital by ambulance while police transported six others to the hospital and three went by private vehicle. “It was very difficult to contain the scene, it was very difficult for EMS to make their way into this crowd,” interim Austin Police Chief Joe Chacon said. “And because of the nature of the injuries, officers had to go ahead and use their police vehicles to put some of these shooting victims into their vehicles and transport them themselves.”
The shooting took place in a popular nightlife district that is filled with bars and restaurants and was packed with people. Police characterized the crowd as being “pre-pandemic” in terms of size. The huge number of people in the area that was closed off to vehicles made it difficult for ambulances to get to the area. One witness who was waiting to get into a bar told local NBC affiliate KXAN that everything seemed “totally fine” until the shooting started. “We just heard like nine—a bunch—of gunshots going off,” Matt Perlstein said. “Everyone got on the ground. We couldn’t even comprehend what was going on at the time.”
Officials said this is the latest instance that shows how gun violence is increasing in the city. “What we have seen in recent months and over the last year or so is an increase in gun violence,” Chacon said, “and so this is just emblematic of that, it continues, and it’s something we’re trying to work to decrease.” Police said the shooting appears to have been an isolated incident.