AUSTIN, Texas – A former DeKalb County woman was one of two people killed when a driver plowed through a street barricade and into a crowd of South by Southwest festival attendees early Thursday.
The crash injured 23 others and cast a pall over one of the nation's hippest celebrations of music, movies and technology.
The driver, who was fleeing police, struck multiple pedestrians around 12:30 a.m. on a block filled with concertgoers, then sped down the street, hitting and killing a man from the Netherlands on a bicycle and an Austin woman on a moped, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
The driver eventually crashed his Honda Civic into a parked van and tried to flee on foot before police used a stun gun to subdue him.
Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, will face two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, Austin police said Thursday afternoon. The statement did not provide a city of residence.
Police said the incident started when an officer on a drunken-driving patrol tried to stop a vehicle. Acevedo said he believed Owens was so intent on evading the police that he willfully drove into the crowd.
Three people were in critical condition Thursday afternoon, up from two earlier in the day.
Acevedo said the crash transformed Red River Street – packed at all hours of the day and night during South by Southwest – into "basically a very long crime scene."
Still, concertgoers streamed in for another day of festivities Thursday, and by early afternoon, bass boomed through the area as bands played scheduled concerts nearby.
Now in its 27th year, South by Southwest has grown from a small showcase for up-and-coming bands to an international extravaganza, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and top music and Hollywood stars. Acevedo said the festival had never experienced a similar deadly incident before.
The Travis County Medical Examiner identified one of the victims as 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West of Austin. She was formerly of Garrett, Ind., according to West's Facebook page. West was on a moped struck by the car. Her husband, Evan West, was among those hospitalized.