AUSTIN—Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says a woman is in custody Saturday after hitting two pedestrians on 6th Street and driving toward an officer.
It happened not long after bars closed for the night, at 2:20 a.m. He said the woman got in a gray Pontiac that was parked near Trinity, along 6th Street, which had been closed to vehicles for the evening. Acevedo said the woman suddenly sped into the crowd of pedestrians, leaving skid marks on the road.
She then hit a 21-year-old man and a 24-year-old man, and narrowly missed several other pedestrians who managed to get out of the way. Acevedo said an officer on the scene ordered the driver to stop, but she kept going, and turned the Pontiac toward that officer.
"At that moment, the officer, fearing for his own personal safety and life and the safety and lives of the other pedestrians, fired several shots," Acevedo said. He said the shots hit the vehicle’s windshield, but not the driver.
Acevedo said the driver stopped near San Jacinto after the officer fired, and was arrested without further incident. He said the driver was alone in the vehicle.
"We don’t have any information at this time as to why she did what she did," he said.
Acevedo said police had recovered surveillance video from street cameras that they would use in the investigation. He said there were also fourteen civilian witnesses, as well as several other police officers who saw the incident.
He said he didn’t know yet whether alcohol was a factor, but that the department’s DWI experts were investigating.
Emergency crews took the two pedestrians to UMC Brackenridge Hospital, where they were stable Saturday morning. Acevedo said their injuries were not life-threatening.
"It’s amazing to me that no one else was seriously injured or killed, especially when you think about that time of night, on a Friday night, the amount of pedestrian traffic we have out here," Acevedo said.
Acevedo said the incident happened while 6th Street was still closed to vehicle traffic. "Folks do park in the enclosure prior to the closure, and when they leave at night, what they typically do is drive very slowly and cautiously along the street until they get out of the enclosure," he said.
Acevedo said the officer who fired the shots would be placed on administrative leave, which is standard for the department after officer-involved shootings. He said, though it was still early in the investigation, it appeared the officer had followed protocol.
"Our policy does not preclude and absolutely allows officers to discharge firearms at the driver of a vehicle if that driver poses an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death to an officer or any innocent third party," Acevedo said.
Acevedo said he planned to release the name of the officer, and that of the suspect, Saturday afternoon.
Doorman at the Dizzy Rooster Chase Peres said he heard the entire ordeal. Peres said he looked outside after he heard the screeching tires but it wasn’t until he heard gun shots when he started to panic.
"We were over here at the windows trying to figure out what was going on," Peres said. "The cops were everywhere. Then the ambulance started coming in and the firetruck was coming in."
Peres said he saw one of the victims on the ground on 6th street after he had been hit by the car. He said he saw the victim moving and awake while he was being transported to the hospital.