Suspect in fatal car crash to be charged with two counts of capital murder, 23 counts of aggravated assault in a vehicle
[UPDATED 6:30 p.m. PT March 13] AUSTIN — Two people were killed and 23 more were injured after a car drove through SXSW festival barricades and struck a crowd of pedestrians early Thursday morning, police said.
At a press conference held in front of the crime scene, Austin Chief of Police Art Acevedo said that the two deceased victims were confirmed dead at the scene in downtown Austin. The man was later confirmed to be Steven Craenmehr, 35, creative director for Amsterdam-based music management and promotion agency MassiveMusic, who was on a bicycle. The woman was Central Texan Jamie Ranae West, 27, who was riding on a moped with her husband.
West’s husband is among the others listed in critical or serious condition and has not been released from the hospital. Those whose injuries were consistent with wounds sustained in vehicular collisions, were transported to three area hospitals, Commander Mike Benavides said.
“I’ve been here for seven years, and this (sort of thing) has never happened,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo said the crash occurred at about 12:30 a.m., when a man in a silver Toyota, allegedly intoxicated and being pursued by police, drove the wrong way down Red River Street, a one-way thoroughfare. He then plowed through the barricade and struck multiple pedestrians, a taxi and the moped before crashing into a van.
The driver, who has now been identified by police as Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, got out of the car and attempted to flee on foot, but an officer pursued, tased and apprehended him.
Acevedo said the suspect will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault in a vehicle. He said more information on the investigation would be released at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
“There’s one person responsible and that’s that person who got behind that wheel and decided to drink and drive … and then when stopped by police, cared more about himself than these people out here,” he said. “He needs to go to jail, and hopefully for a long time.”
Six fire apparatus and 24 firefighters were deployed to the scene, said Harry Evans, chief of staff for the Austin Fire Dept.
The crash occurred outside the Mohawk Bar, a busy festival venue where musical performances were being held at the time. Music venues up and down Red River Street shut down during the police investigation, and the only sound that could be heard was that of a single idling police car.