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Austin homeless count canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

Save Austin Now has garnered enough signatures to place the camping ban on the May ballot if verified by the city.


The group, who wants to reverse City Council's 2019 decision to allow the homeless to camp in designated areas, has said they received 30,000 signatures—well over the 20,000 needed to ensure the issue gets put on the ballot.

On Jan. 19, Save Austin Now submitted the signatures to be reviewed by the city clerk. This comes just two months after the group filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin, citing that the clerk tossed out thousands of legitimate signatures in a bid to keep the issue off the ballot in November.

Homes Not Handcuffs, a local group comprised of representatives from various community, legal and advocacy organizations such as Austin Mutual Aid and University United Methodist, met in front of City Hall on Tuesday morning to oppose the camping ban.

The group said reinstating the ban would be detrimental to Austin's homeless population, citing the known COVID-19 exposure inside local jails.

Austin's homeless population has been on the rise for the past several years, seeing a 45% increase from 2019 to 2020. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the 2021 homeless count has been canceled.

The city clerk has until Feb. 12 to validate the petition's signatures for it to be on the May 1 ballot.

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Austonia file photo. (Christa McWhirter/Austonia)

Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.

The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.

Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.

The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.

No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.

According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.

Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be


The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.

Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.

Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."

"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.

This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.

Austin police are investigating a homicide in North Austin where a woman was shot and killed, just hours after a mass shooting in Downtown Austin hospitalized 14 people.

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