A peaceful Black Lives Matter rally turned violent Saturday night when a person drove up to a crowd of protesters on Congress Avenue before stopping, shooting a man and quickly driving off, according to newsreports, Facebook Live video and police.
The victim, identified by his family and later by police as 28-year-old Garrett Foster, died at Dell Seton Medical Center. No other injuries from the incident were reported, but police said that a second person in the crowd drew a weapon and fired at the car as it drove away. Both shooters were questioned by police, but both have since been released.
Watch: @Chief_Manley provides media briefing in regards to Homicide #28 https://t.co/PSZRZAVwWz— Austin Police Department (@Austin Police Department) 1595804001.0
Much of the hours-long march was live-streamed on social media, including around the time the suspect shot Foster. Gunshots can be heard during this Facebook Live video.
The incident began around 9:50 p.m. when the suspect, driving down Fourth Street, honked at protesters before turning and speeding down Congress Avenue. The car came to an abrupt stop after appearing to hit an orange barrier. Several protesters then approached the car, including Foster, who may have been holding a rifle, police said. The driver of the car then pointed a gun out his window, fired several times and left the scene.
Foster had been attending the protest with his fiancé, a quadruple-amputee, and was pushing her wheelchair, according to Good Morning America, which spoke to Foster's mother.
A protester who had seen Foster before said he often brought his rifle with him, the Austin American-Statesman reported. His sister told the newspaper that she did not believe he would ever point a gun at someone.
Foster and his fiancé, Whitney Mitchell, had attended many protests peacefully over the past few months, according to his mother and other protesters. After initially dispersing following the shooting, Mitchell and several dozen other protesters reconvened by the Austin Police headquarters early Sunday morning. Mitchell was surrounded by protesters chanting Foster's name and sharing their condolences.
A GoFundMe page has been set up as a memorial to Foster.
This story has been updated with new information.
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Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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