April 20, 2014


SXSW Drunk Driver Facing 4 New Charges & Additional $500K Bail

Update (4/20): Rashad Owens is facing four new charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Austin-American Statesman. The new charges reportedly stem from injuries ranging from scratches to a fractured neck. Owens now faces a total of 24 charges of aggravated assault. Police also tackled on an additional $500,000 to Owens’ $5 million in bail. 

UPDATE (4/1): The driver, 21-year-old Rashad Owens, has also been charged with 20 counts of aggravated assault. He's already been charged with one count of capital murder for the incident that left four people dead.

UPDATE (3/27): Two weeks after a drunk driver drove into a crowd in Austin during SXSW, Austin police confirm a fourth person passed away from injuries sustained during the crash.

UPDATE (3/17): Sandy Le, a resident of Austin, passed away on Tuesday. Le, who was last listed in critical condition, is the third person to die as a result of the crash. 

UPDATE (3/13): Mohawk Bar, which was one of the sites of this morning's accident, has announced in conjunction with SXSW that it will go on with its scheduled shows tonight. "After talking with the Austin Police Department, we have determined that the most prudent course of action is to move forward with the SXSW shows scheduled at the Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie's tonight. If we were to turn away potentially thousands of people who will arrive to see the shows, it would create a serious safety issue," said SXSW Founder Roland Swenson in a press release.

The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Owens was arrested in Alaska in 2011 for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. He also has an open warrant in the state.

Original story: Two people were killed and ten others remain hospitalized after a drunk driver plowed through a barrier and into a crowd early Thursday morning at SXSW in Austin, TX. A total of 25 people were hurt during the incident, and of those ten still in the hospital, five suffered life-threatening injuries.

According to Austin police, the driver, whose name will be released later today, was initially pulled over at a nearby gas station under the suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Before police could approach the vehicle, the driver sped away from the gas station and down 9th Street before making a right turn onto Red River Street, where he crashed through a gate and into a crowd lined up at Mohawk Bar to see Tyler, the Creator's set at House of Vans.

From there, the suspect continued to speed down Red River Street, crossing 10th Street before striking a man on a bicycle and two people riding a moped. He came to a stop on 11th Street after hitting a taxi and a parked van. The suspect fled on foot, but was Tasered by police and apprehended. The manriding the bike, who has been identified by the creative music firm MassiveMusic as employee Steven Craenmehr, was pronounced dead at the scene. So was one of the two, a woman, on the moped. The other occupant of the moped, a man, remains hospitalized.

According to police, the driver will be charged with two counts of capital murder and multiple other counts of aggravated assault. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon that he considered the incident an "intentional act." Acevedo also stressed that he believes SXSW should continue, saying that a cancellation of the festival would be "a win for evil."

Festival directors announced Thursday afternoon that SXSW will go on as planned, with the exception of events scheduled to take place on the streets that now constitute the crime scene. Those will either be rescheduled or cancelled; Stereogum, which had its showcase set for this afternoon at Mohawk, announced that it has been canceled.

Roland Swenson, the managing director of SXSW, said on Thursday that this is the first time that there has been a "loss of life" at the festival. Police told reporters that they were first notified of the incident at 12:32 a.m. local time, and that trauma victims were removed from the scene and transported to area hospitals within 15 minutes. Other victims with less severe injuries were taken away within 47 minutes.