The man who police sayplowed his car into a crowd of music fans standing on an Austin, Texas street early Thursday morning (March 13) has been identified.
Though authorities are not naming him, according to the Austin American-Statesman, the suspect is named Rashad Charjuan Owens, 22, of Killeen, Texas.
At press time police were waiting to identify Owens until they file capital murder charges against the driver who allegedly slammed into a crowd outside the Mohawk club, where Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator was preparing to take the stage for a SXSW showcase shortly after midnight on Thursday.
Just hours after the suspect was taken into custody, Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters that the driver will face two capital murder charges and 23 aggravated assault counts in the incident. Acevedo also revealed that the two people killed were a man from the Netherlands who was hit while riding his bike and an Austin woman who was on her moped, both declared dead at the scene.
The Dutch man has been identified by his employer, Massive Music, as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr, who was a “creative director & sonic branding specialist” at the Amsterdam firm.
Blood samples have been taken of the suspect, but Acevedo said that no blood alcohol levels have been determined yet and Texas law prohibited him from revealing if he had any prior arrest record. KVUE TV reported that the Toyota the suspect was driving was reported stolen in Killeen.
Shortly after midnight local time, the suspect was stopped on suspicion of DUI and reportedly sped away from police through a gas station, drove several blocks and broke through a barricade, speeding the wrong way down a one-way street crowded with festivalgoers. His Toyota allegedly struck several pedestrians before hitting the scooter and killing the female victim. The car then struck a taxi, injuring two and crashed into a parked van before the suspect attempted to flee on foot.
The suspect was subdued with a stun gun and Acevedo said he suffered minor injuries and was transferred into police custody after being checked out at a local hospital. Acevedo described the accident as an “intentional act” committed by the suspect, which caused one of Acevedo’s officers to jump out of the way to avoid injury.
“When somebody decides to do the things that this man did, it’s part of life and ultimately we have to hold people accountable for their actions,” Acevedo said. “This individual acted in a reckless, willful disregard for the people that were here at this event.”
At press time, two patients were described as being in critical condition with head injuries, another was in intensive care with a prognosis University Medical Center Brackenridge officials described as “worrisome.”
All daytime events at SXSW on Thursday were scheduled to go on, as was Thursday night’s Dorito’s-sponsored Lady Gaga gig , though organizers left it up to individual venues to decide whether to cancel or postpone events.
Organizers released a statement about the incident on Thursday morning. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic accident that took place last night here in Austin,” it read. “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.”
Austin police are asking anyone with information about the incident or eyewitness accounts to call (512) 974-5186.