The Austin Police Department has identified a new suspect they say was involved in the 6th Street mass shooting that killed one and injured 14. The suspect, 19-year-old De'Ondre Jemirris White, is still at large.
Authorities are dropping charges against 17-year-old Jeremiah Roshawn Leland James Tabb and a 15-year-old, who were originally arrested last week. They were taken into custody for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and deadly conduct, respectively. Police have since determined that they were not responsible for the injuries and death that occurred.
The investigation is still ongoing and Interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said based on witness interviews, ballistic evidence and video evidence, they were able to confirm that White fired the shot that killed 25-year-old New York tourist Douglas John Kantor.
"When he is apprehended, he will be charged with murder," District Attorney José Garza said.
An arrest warrant was issued last night for White, who remains unfound, though police know he changed his appearance and went into hiding in Killeen after he was interviewed. Police consider him "armed and dangerous." They have yet to determine whether or not shots were fired from both parties.
Police said the incident was a culmination of a disagreement between two groups from Killeen, resulting in the shooting. Police said after the shooting, Tabb and White, who was in the same group as Tabb, "fled to an apartment" and "discussed the shooting."
Police said many of the people in both groups had guns. Police have seized the handguns from suspects, which are now evidence, and said White's weapon has been connected to several violent crimes.
No final decisions have been made as of now but Garza said it will be in the best interest of the prosecution to release the two teenagers at this time. Tabb remained in the Travis County Jail until Tuesday morning for his assault charge. Garza said when the time comes, the district attorney's office will evaluate all of the evidence and make final charges.
Police are still asking for the public's help in locating White. Police ask anyone who comes in contact with the suspect to call 911.
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Stephanie Ashworth lived in a neighborhood north of Tarrytown, near W. 35th St. and Balcones Drive the summer of 2013. One of her neighbors wanted to move to a different school district and decided to rent out their home on Airbnb upon leaving.
“We’re like—’ok’—we didn’t know any better,” Ashworth said. “And it was awful.”
Ashworth said guests played loud music, used the pool naked and would return from trips at the lake stumbling drunk out of party buses.
“It ruins your peace of mind where you should be able to have it. Where you should be able to feel safe, where the kids should be able to go out front,” Ashworth said. “And we shouldn't find used condoms, empty beer bottles, the trash, the parking, it's so disturbing.”
Ashworth is now head of the Austin chapter of the Texas Neighborhood Coalition, a statewide group that assists people looking to restrict and regulate short-term rentals in their residential neighborhoods. She talked to Austonia following Airbnb’s announcement this week that it will deploy new anti-party technology in the US and Canada.
The initiative aims to prevent potentially high-risk reservations by being a more robust version of the “under 25” system, which reviews guests under the age of 25 without positive reviews who are booking locally. A similar variation of this system has been piloted in Australia since October 2021 and has resulted in a 35% drop in incidents of unauthorized parties in pilot areas.
Airbnb is hoping for similar success in other regions but noted that there could still be some hiccups once the system is in effect.
“While we are optimistic that this technology will have a positive impact for the safety of our community and our goal to reduce unauthorized parties—we want to be clear that no system is perfect,” Airbnb wrote in a statement announcing the new tech. “We work hard to deter bad actors from using our platform, but ultimately Airbnb is an online platform that facilitates real world connections.”
For Ashworth, this system falls short of what she’d like to see from the company and she’d like for them to be clearer about what constitutes a party in the company’s eyes.
“So I have no doubt that this technology they're touting for the party houses is nonsense,” Ashworth said. “They are not a company that's run with integrity, they're not a good corporate citizen.”
But people will continue to flock to Airbnb as Austin continues to be a major tourist destination with festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest drawing in thousands. Even on a regular weekend pandemic recovery has been in full swing with downtown entertainment districts seeing visits close to 2019 levels.
Ultimately, Ashworth sees room to accommodate tourists while ensuring neighborhoods remain homey for Austinites.
“My personal opinion is the home team comes first,” Ashworth said. “The whole city doesn't need to be turned over to the tourist industry and areas that are zoned residentially should remain for residents. I do understand that we are a tourist destination. But you can have a short-term rental pretty much anywhere in the city except in residential zones.”
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