The first night of SXSW Music was marked by tragedy when a car drove into a crowd near the busy Sixth Street corridor of Austin, Texas, and struck scores of people, killing two and injuring 23.
Reports of what exactly happened are sketchy, but multiple eyewitness accounts described a car traveling at high speed north up Red River Street—the north/south street that intersects the city’s famous Sixth Street and is home to a few famous music venues, including Stubb’s and Mohawk—and hitting numerous people. Many have speculated the driver of the vehicle was intoxicated, but nothing has been confirmed yet. Austin authorities have only said that 23 people were transported to area hospitals, five of them in critical condition, and two of them dead.
We’ll post updates as we know more. (The entire A.V. Club crew is safe.)
UPDATE: The Austin American-Statesman explained that police looking for drunk drivers had attempted to pull over the suspect at a nearby gas station. According to the police report, the driver weaved through the gas station, went the wrong way down one street, then turned up Red River, which was closed to vehicle traffic.
He drove two blocks through the pedestrians and at 11th, he struck a moped with a man and woman, who both died at the scene, Acevedo said.
The driver kept going, hit a taxi and a parked van, before jumping out of the car and fleeing on foot. The same officer who initiated the stop chased him all the way through and tased him, the police chief said.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said the driver will face capital-murder charges for the deaths and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle. Authorities say a large portion of Red River will be closed for most of the day Thursday.