WATCH: Shooting at Black Lives Matter Protest in Austin Leaves One Dead

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A shooting at a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin, Texas, left one person dead. The victim was identified as Garrett Foster, a Libertarian who frequently attended the protests. Some witnesses said the shooting started after a car drove up to a crowd of protesters near Sixth Street and Congress. Police later said in a press conference the driver may have shot at Foster from the car. There was another shooter in the crowd, but Foster did not shoot the weapon he was legally open carrying, officials said. The suspect has been detained.


The Shooting Happened in Downtown Austin Just Before 10 PM

The shooting happened on Saturday night, July 25 just before 10 p.m. near the intersection of Congress Avenue and East 6th Street, KXAN reported.  An initial call said multiple patients were involved, but Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) said on Twitter that one person was being transferred to a trauma center with life-threatening injuries. Austin Chronicle reported that a car pulled up and opened fire on protesters. KVUE reported that this was a Black Lives Matter protest.

You can see the video of the shooting below.

WARNING: The following video may be disturbing for viewers and contains footage and sounds of multiple rounds of gunfire and people fleeing the scene and screaming. Viewer discretion is advised.

The video above was shared on Twitter by Nick, who said the video was originally recorded by Hiram Gilberto. According to his Facebook page, Gilberto often reports live from the front lines, offering “raw footage of our history in the making.”

He wrote on Facebook: “A protestor was shot with LIVE ROUNDS today. I was no more ten feet from the shooter and running towards his car. It was TOO CLOSE. Currently on my way to give a witness statement to APD. KEEP THOSE AFFECTED IN YOUR THOUGHTS.”

On his full video, Gilberto said that someone got out of the car and shot one of the protesters. A woman then said: “A car drove up. We were taking the streets, and he shot [the protester.]”

Austin Chronicle shared the following video, taken right after the shooting.

Another video was shared later, showing a car stopping at a light, away from the march, and then driving into the crowd.

A witness to the shooting, James Sasinowski, shared on Twitter what he saw happen. He wrote: “So I just watched someone in our Austin #BLM protest get shot by some random white dude in a luxury sedan. I was 20 ft from the firing. That was…sobering? I’m not sure I have the right words right now… The driver aggressively drove into a crowd of people. The driver instigated the entire incident… Police were there in seconds, but EMS took forever. It was weird… There were hundreds of protesters marching north up Congress Ave and had started to make their way into the 4th St intersection… There is no way the driver saw Garrett before accelerating. Garrett was in the middle of a crowd of hundreds.”

He also retweeted a detailed explanation he wrote about what he saw.

Sasinowski wrote that he saw a black luxury sedan attempting to turn right, but the march was in the way.

He wrote:

Instead of waiting for the protestors to move beyond this space or simply slowly moving so we could make room for them, the driver quickly accelerated and almost ran over some protesters. Another witness told me they actually hit some bodies. They then quickly slowed down about halfway through the turn only to speed back up to get onto Congress, again almost running over protesters. This time, many protesters started banging on their vehicle and some intentionally got in front of their path to force them to stop, which they did. A crowd rapidly grew around the vehicle and people were trying to get a picture of the license plate. At this point, I was probably about 10-15 feet north and about 5 feet east of the northeast corner of the now south-facing vehicle… Within ten seconds of the driver stopping, while I had my head turned forward, I heard 1-2 shots fired. I turned my head back and witnesses at least two more shots being fired. The driver had their arm fully extended out of the driver’s window with what I would guess was a semi-automatic handgun…”


Austin Police Said the Shooter Fired from the Car

ATCEMS first reported the shooting on Twitter, asking people to avoid the area. The account’s final update said that the patient count was at one and no additional patients were found.

The Austin Police Department later tweeted that they were investigating a homicide at Congress Ave. and 4th Street, which is near where the original shooting was reported.

In a press conference, the Austin police said that the man who was shot died of a gunshot wound after he was transported to a hospital. Officials said that the man who was shot was carrying a rifle and may have approached the suspect’s vehicle. (The man who was shot was later identified as Garrett Foster, who had explained in an interview earlier before the shooting that he was carrying an AK 47. Open carry is legal in Texas.)

The video below is an aerial view of the scene after the shooting. Although the tweet says multiple people were involved, this ended up being incorrect. One person was shot and killed.

Senior police officer Katrina Ratcliff told the press: “One adult male victim was located with a gunshot wound. That victim was transported…but was pronounced deceased shortly thereafter. Initial reports indicate that the victim may have been carrying a rifle and approached suspect vehicle. Suspect was in the vehicle and shot at the victim. Suspect was detained and is cooperating with officers… There’s no longer a threat to the public and no one else has been reported injured.”

A witness on the scene told Mose Buchele from KUT a slightly different version of what the Austin Police Department shared. The witness said that a blue car came swerving into the middle of the street, almost hitting protesters.

The witness told KUT:

As we’re walking down passing 4th street, a blue car just comes swerving out into the middle of the street almost runs over a bunch of protesters… Everybody around starts, like, smacking the car trying to get him to slow down. And they stop. And some guy, he walks up and he’s like ‘Hey just don’t do that you’re going to get somebody hurt.’ And he [in car] pulls down his window and he fires three shots into the guy. From point blank. No words no nothing. And then rolls up his window and zooms off. He just fired straight into the mess of the crowd. Not away from it, but towards it.”

Another witness shared a similar story, which you can watch in the video here.

Officials later clarified that there were two shooters involved, but Foster was not one of them. Tony Plohetski of the Austin American Statesman shared the updates on Twitter, saying that officials believed one shooter was the driver and the other was in the crowd, possibly firing when the car drove away.

 

In a press conference on Sunday, Police Chief Brian Manley said that the driver was the first person to shoot a weapon. He said the driver claimed that Foster pointed his weapon at him and then the driver shot him multiple times. This has not been confirmed, however. He said Foster had approached the driver’s side window and others were striking the vehicle before the driver fired shots. Another person who saw the car driving away drew their own concealed handgun and fired multiple shots at the vehicle.

Manley, when asked if the driver was the first to shoot his weapon, said: “Based on what we know right now, that is what we believe. We believe that as he turned onto Congress Ave…and some of the protesters are striking his vehicle…his account is Mr. Foster pointed the weapon directly at him and he fired his handgun at Mr. Foster.”

When asked why the man was driving in the protest in the first place, Manley said: “That information is specific to the investigation and we’re not going to release anything the driver told us at this point about why he was there and what he was doing.”

Manley added that there is video showing the driver turning just before the shooting. You can watch the press conference below.

Both people who shot their guns have been released pending an investigation and officials did not release their names.

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