The man accused of killing two people and injuring 23 early Thursday morning at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, was an aspiring rapper who was in town to perform a showcase that night.
Rashad Charjuan Owens , 21, who will face two capital murder charges and 23 counts of aggravated assault, is accused of crashing his car through a crowd on the streets while trying to evade police during a high-speed chase.
His brother, Lamar Wilson, told the Austin American-Statesman that Owens was an aspiring rapper who goes by the name KillingAllBeatz, or K.A.B254, and that he last saw him on Wednesday night just before K.A.B’s scheduled 1 a.m. show at a nearby club. Wilson said Owens, who hails from Killeen, Texas, had been drinking and was not familiar with the streets of Austin.
Owens’ brother and grandmother also said the accused, suspected of driving drunk in the incident, had been raised in a Christian home, was enrolled in college and had been trying to provide for his six children, ages two months to five-years-old.
“I can’t grasp it. I can’t believe it,” Wilson told the paper. “Everything was going good. We were just there trying to perform, and it made a whole other turn.” Wilson said Owens had borrowed the grey Honda used in the incident from a friend and fellow rapper, Andrew Bramwell, a soldier at Fort Hood in Killeen, who had reported his car stolen Thursday morning.
While police would not discuss Owens’ criminal history at a briefing on Thursday, the paper reported that public records show he had several misdemeanor arrests in Fairbanks, Alaska, including charges of a minor drinking alcohol and criminal trespass. In October 2011, he was charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass in Killeen in 2010 and sentenced to 60 days in jail, and then sentenced to an additional 60 days for another criminal trespass incident in January 2011.
The two people killed in the incident were identified as Jamie Ranae West, 27, of Austin, who was hit while sitting on her moped and Steven Craenmehr, 35, a Dutch musician who was on a bicycle; both died at the scene. As of Thursday night, three of the 23 injured were reported in critical condition, with two suffering severe head injuries.
Six of the victims were still in area hospitals, five in fair condition and one in good condition, with injuries that ranged from broken bones and teeth to deep cuts. According to a list of 19 of the victims, 12 were in their 20s, six were between 17-19 and one was 39.
Police are still awaiting results of tests on Owens’ blood alcohol level, which was taken following his booking. The Statesman also reported that Austin residents and visitors held a vigil on Thursday night at downtown’s St. David’s Episcopal Church.
A fund has been set up to help people affected by the incident at sxswcares.com.