A suspected drunk driver was arrested for killing two and injuring at least 23 after his speeding car drove into a packed crowd of pedestrians outside a downtown Austin nightclub during the South by Southwest music festival early Thursday.
The incident occurred shortly after midnight when a suspected drunk driver tried to speed away from police after breaking through a barricade. The silver Toyota sedan plowed through the barricade close to The Mohawk nightclub, striking two people, a man and a woman on a motorized scooter, killing them instantly. The car then hit a number of pedestrians of whom five are reportedly in critical condition.
“There is only one person responsible for this, someone with no regard for the sanctity of life,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo reportedly told the media. "Our focus is on gathering evidence and seeking justice for the people who lost their lives."
Acevedo reportedly said that the man also hit a taxi before jumping out of his car and trying to escape on foot. Officers chased the man and hit him with a stun gun before taking him into custody.
According to Associated Press, the man, whose name was not revealed, will be facing two murder charges and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.
"We had a large crowd," Acevedo reportedly said in a news conference, adding, “I just thank God that a lot of the folks had already been pushed on the sidewalk or this could have been a lot worse."
Yvette Ruiz, 27, of Austin, told the Washington Post that she was attending the festival with her boyfriend when they both saw the car break through the barricade plowing through “clusters” of festival-goers.
“I could hear the rev of the engine and people screaming,” she reportedly said. “I turned around to see people falling off the hood of the car. Then there was a police car immediately on its tail so we assumed the person was evading arrest.”
“There was a lot of blood everywhere. People on the street. People on the sidewalk,” Ruiz said. “It was barricaded. It was supposed to be safe.”