The suspect who ran his car into a crowd near the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on Thursday morning has been identified.
The American-Statesman in Austin first confirmed the identity of the suspect in the SXSW incident as Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen, Texas. Owens was taken into custody early on Thursday morning, following the incident that killed two and 23 injured. Police revealed during an early morning press conference that the suspect would be facing two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, Reuters reports.
"This is an individual that showed no regard for the human beings that he plowed into in his attempt to get away," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told a news conference on Thursday. He added that the suspect's name would be released after he was formally charged on Thursday.
The two people killed in the incident were a Texas woman who was riding on a moped and a Dutch man who was riding a bicycle, said police.
Acevedo said the chase started a little after midnight, when an officer saw a man driving the wrong direction on a one-way street. The suspect was asked to pull over to a sobriety checkpoint at a gas station. The suspect then acted like he was going to comply, but sped off through the crowded gas station parking lot and down the street. The suspect drove for about two blocks, slamming through a police barricade during and plowing into people. Many of the individuals struck were waiting in line outside of a nightclub. Witnesses report seeing victims flying in the air, reports CNN.
After crashing into the crowd, police say the driver fled from the scene. He was eventually caught, with an officer using a Taser to subdue him.
— Mashable (@mashable) March 13, 2014
Closeup of cycle or moped involved in deadly crash on Red River st in Austin, Texas pic.twitter.com/zNViSuu7c1
— Anthony Quintano (@AnthonyQuintano) March 13, 2014
Officials said most of the severely injured were taken to area hospitals, with the festival's emergency medical teams offering a quick response to those needing assistance. "All of our critical patients were off the scene within 15 minutes of the time we received the first call," James Shamard, chief of staff for Travis County EMS, told the news conference.
Two of the victims remained in critical condition after sustaining head injuries. The suspect, described only as a black male, was treated at the same hospital as several of the victims. He only had minor injuries and was taken into police custody, say hospital officials.
SXSW launched as a music festival in 1987. The annual event has since grown to include feature films and interactive events, drawing thousands to Austin every year. Each night, several roads in downtown Austin are closed to traffic, and police organize checkpoints around the area to look out for people who may be driving under the influence.
Many attendees immediately took to social media to share videos and photos from the accident scene. Acevedo is now urging those people to turn those videos and images over to authorities. In a statement on its website, the festival said the event would continue.