One man was killed and a woman was injured during an Austin police officer-involved shooting in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The incident initially took place just after 12:30 a.m. in the 2500 block of Wickersham Lane.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said in a press conference that an off-duty officer was driving southbound toward his home in his personal vehicle when a car cut him off and then pointed a gun at him.
"The officer fired at the suspect at this point. Multiple rounds were fired by the officer," Manley said.
The off-duty officer then called 911 at 12:34 a.m. to report the incident and continued to follow the vehicle down Wickersham Lane in southeast Austin until the driver stopped his vehicle.
APD officers responded to the scene at 12:37 a.m. and asked the driver to get away from his car, subsequently shooting him when he reached into his back passenger side door instead. After shots were fired, it was discovered a baby was in the back seat.
"As he reaches into the vehicle, the on-duty Austin police officer fired shots at him," Manley said.
A gun was found at the scene and is believed to be the deceased driver's, who is yet to be identified.
There was also a 33-year-old Hispanic woman in the passenger seat who was struck by gunfire. According to Manley, she was transported to a local hospital where she underwent surgery and is currently in stable condition.
The officers involved have been with the department for five years and two years—Manley did not clarify which officer was on-duty or off-duty. Both are on administrative leave while an investigation is pending.
A criminal investigation will be conducted by the Austin Police Department Special Investigations Unit and will have oversight from the Travis County District Attorney's office.
There will also be an administrative investigation to determine if the actions were compliant with APD policy. It will be conducted by the Austin Police Department Internal Affairs Division and will have oversight from the Office of Police Oversight
"This is a very dynamic and unfolding investigation right now," Manley said. "There's a lot of work that will continue to be done through the early morning and through the day today."
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Everyone knows that Austin has built its reputation on being “the Live Music Capital of the World.”
Whether you’re being greeted by a guitar-laden crooner upon arrival at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport or enjoying breakfast tacos in the shadow of statue and mural tributes to legends like Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan, nods to the famous moniker are apparent throughout the city.
But following a pandemic that turned the entire world upside down, what’s it actually like to be a musician in Austin right now?
Julie Nolen has been part of the local music scene for 23 years, not only as an alt-country artist but also as the host of open mic and songwriter nights across the city. She said her goal is “to keep getting better and meet a few heroes along the way.”
Nolen described the Austin music community “like a college – you can learn from the best here.” She said that while it can be difficult to make ends meet at times, musicians are fortunate to lean on local organizations such as the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and the SIMS Foundation, which offers mental health and substance use recovery services for those in the music industry.
She added that the pandemic caused her to shift focus from performing to talent buying. After initially booking music for the Rustic Tap, Nolen’s reputation as a talent buyer spread – her Pearlsnap Music Group now books for eight bars and produces one festival – the OUTlaw Pride Fest, which is this Saturday, Sept. 24 – each year.
Bobby Cheatham and Liz Feezor, founding members of synth-rock band Candy Riot, said the pandemic forced them to write lyrics first, then build music around the words.
“We were heartbroken when Austin’s music scene shattered for 20 months,” Cheatham and Feezor said. “Writing, rehearsing, recording and performing are all communal activities, so we’re grateful to see everything and everyone come back together.”
The band, which has now expanded to include Ricky Rodriguez and Erica Porter, held a launch party for its debut album, “Moonstar,” earlier this month and will release a cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” in collaboration with the Foxtales on Oct. 4. A show at Empire Control Room and a music video release for the band’s single, “Black Tie,” are also planned for November.
“We take emotions and give them a soundtrack, and hopefully some people will like the songs,” Cheatham and Feezor said, adding that their music was featured recently on 101X Homegrown. “It feels good when they’re played on the radio and when friends come to the shows. The band has given us great opportunities to create art, befriend other musicians and spend more time having fun.”
“You'd better be really different and good, but more than anything, you'd better work really hard. Harder than everybody else.” - Bobby Cheatham and Liz Feezor
Cheatham and Feezor said the challenges facing new bands in Austin post-pandemic include finding places to play, writing music and finding the money to record. They added that new bands also need “good songs, pretty pictures, a well-written bio, and traction on social media to get the attention of the venues. Knowing the right people is also important.”
Nolen said that while music is still abundantly available in Austin, pay, fair treatment, affordable housing and transportation also remain major issues for artists. She added, however, that Austin remains “very receptive” to new bands and that, like so many other things, making it in the music business here comes down to hard work.
“Mostly it's how to differentiate yourself from the rest of the hay in the haystack,” Nolen said. “You'd better be really different and good, but more than anything, you'd better work really hard. Harder than everybody else.”
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