After two back-to-back homicides early Sunday morning, Austin reached a 60-year high of 60 homicides this year.
The number is the highest the Austin Police Department has recorded in its 60 years of record-keeping and surpasses the murders in 2020 by 25%, when the city saw 48 slayings.
The numbers came quick early Sunday morning, when police officers responded to a call at the El Nocturno Night Club on 7601 N. Lamar Blvd after reports of gunfire. A man was found with several gunshot wounds at the scene and was later pronounced dead.
Less than 10 minutes later, officers responded to a reported stabbing downtown. When they arrived at the scene, they found an injured man who later died. No more information has come from either report.
According to the Austin-American Statesman's Tony Plohetski, the homicide rate when using 2020 census data is 6.2 per 100,000 residents, up from a previous high of around 5.0 in 2020.
Austin Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the city's "boomtown" growth is now being met with "boomtown" problems.
"This is about us truly becoming a big city," Chacon said. "We are starting to experience big city problems. Having said that, I still think that among the big cities, that we remain one of the safest in the country."
Rising crime in Austin has been part of contentious political debates, including a controversial proposition from Save Austin Now to increase police staffing and statements from Gov. Greg Abbott.
Some politicians have pointed to Austin's police budget cuts following the George Floyd and Michael Ramos protests in the summer of 2020 as the culprit for the city's rise in crime. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said the city is "now one of the most dangerous cities in America and definitely in Texas."
But some, like Chacon, say this is more indicative of a nationwide uptick in violent crime in recent years. According to the most recent FBI crime data, Austins violent crime rate sat at 400 incidents per 100,000 residents, or 28th out of the nation's 30 largest cities, in 2019. The city's murder rate for 2019 sat at 3.2 murders per 100,000 residents in 2019, putting Austin in the middle at 15th among Texas' 25 largest cities.
Still, Chacon worries that murders will only rise as the year's final four months come to a close, and the department responded in May by introducing a Violence Intervention Program aimed at preventing gun violence.
"As we go through criminal justice reform, we cannot forget why we have a police department, which is to keep the public safe," Chacon said. "So, we are looking at public safety through that lens, as well."
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Whether you became a home chef when the pandemic began or have always enjoyed crafting delicious meals, it’s undeniable that no home is complete without a cozy kitchen.
Take a peek at these five gems on the market now.
In the South Austin Parten community, this castle-like four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom stunner puts you just minutes from Austin, Dripping Springs and other nearby communities. Stark white and black contrasting features give the interiors a clean look, while a large curving staircase serves as a centerpiece for the ground floor. The chef’s kitchen is spacious, facing the living room and multiple windows, and immediately draws the eye. Upstairs you’ll find a spa-style bathroom, game room with a wet bar and Hill Country Views.This listing is held by Adam Zell and Lexie Zell.
This hyper-modern, 3,300-square-foot Scandinavian-styled home is a paradise for natural light in Hyde Park. With four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms spread across one story, the home rests on concrete columns to protect from extreme climate conditions. Inside, you’ll find crisp, clean trim in the open-plan kitchen with built-in luxury appliances and a walk-in pantry. Lofty 12-foot ceilings and gigantic windows set the tone, with a wet bar and second living room for entertaining. When you retire to the master bedroom, enjoy a warm bath in the soaking tub or enjoy the multi-output shower.
This listing is held by Austin Stowell.
In the heart of Westlake, this stacked three-story new build is a sprawling 4,483 square feet with five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. The home is centrally located and full of natural light, especially on the open concept first floor, which includes the kitchen, casual dining space and living area. The third floor has a bedroom and loft, perfect for the at-home worker.
This listing is held by Jen Templeton and Cheryl Albanese.
This 3,539 square foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Tarrytown townhouse is newly remodeled but still holds on to its vintage charm. Bright white cabinets, a green accented island and quartzite countertops in the kitchen give the space a cheery feeling. Entering on the second floor, you’ll have to walk downstairs to get to the bedrooms, which include ensuite baths and walk-in showers. The third level bonus room is the perfect place for an at-home office.This listing is held by Cindy Fowler.
Just outside Austin in the sleepy town of Wimberley, the Backbone Ridge Ranch is one of the city’s most “iconic and pristine” properties. On nearly 50 acres of land, the house takes you into nature without getting too far from nearby cities. With 4,369 square feet, six bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows effortlessly light the entire space. You’ll feel like a celebrity chef while cooking in the kitchen, even more so entertaining from the outdoor kitchen and living space. The 33,000-gallon quarried limestone pool is perfect for those hot Hill Country summers!This listing is held by Nicole Kessler.
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Sample some spirits
When: 11:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Where: Desert Door, 211 Darden Hill Rd. Driftwood
What: Attend Desert Door Distillery’s first Explorer Series of 2022. Guests will be able to sample Caliber on its own or in a delicious cocktail.
Eat some chili
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sagebrush, 5500 S. Congress Ave.
What: Enjoy great chili and great music at the 14th Annual Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off. All proceeds will be donated to Health Alliance for Austin Musicians in memory of Nick Curran.
Enjoy some local art
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St.
What: The Neil-Cochran House Museum will host a multi-media art exhibition by Austin artist Nell Gottlieb, titled “Land as Persona: An Artist’s Journey.” Gottlieb works in multiple media to reexamine her coming of age, white and female in the Jim Crow South.
Catch some improv comedy
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: GameOn! ATX, 1515 Dungan Ln.
What: ColdTowne ThrowDowne is an improv comedy tournament between troupes that will take place in front of a live studio audience and streamed live to the world on Twitch.
Catch a Johnny Cash-style show
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgetown Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave.
What: Experience music history with a unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and the healing power of home and family set to the tune of the legendary Johnny Cash.