Two dead and 23 injured at SXSW as car ploughs into crowd on busy street

The incident took place in the early hours of March 13 in Austin, Texas

Two people have died at SXSW in Austin, Texas after a driver drove down a busy street, injuring 23 other people – five critically.

According to Austin’s Chief of Police Art Acevedo, who addressed the media at around 2.30am local time, the sole suspect is a black male adult, who was arrested at the scene after being tasered. The incident took place at 12.30am local time, after the suspect tried to drive away from a drink driving checkpoint. He ended up driving the wrong way down a one way street – East 9th – before accelerating down Red River Street, during which he hit a number of pedestrians, as well as a male and female adult on a moped. Both the man and the woman died, stated Acevedo. The suspect crashed into a parked van and then attempted to flee on foot, after which he was tasered. The entire incident took place over the course of one minute, starting at 12.30am and finishing at 12.31am.

The rest of the victims were transported to three local hospitals, with multiple extremity injuries and internal injuries. Five are reported as critical, whereas the others were ‘walking wounded’, with moderate injuries. Most of the victims were pedestrians.

Acevedo has asked witnesses to contact the Austin Police Department. “There is only one person responsible for this and that’s the person who had no respect for the sanctity of life,” he told the press. “From our perspective, he needs to go to jail.” Acevedo added that the suspect was uninjured and in custody and will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

Red River Street – home to a number of venues and bars which form part of SXSW, including Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlies – will be closed for most of today, according to Acevedo, who added that it was the most serious incident he had seen at SXSW in his seven years with the local police force. Tyler, The Creator was due to play Mohawk at 1am. Following the incident, he tweeted: “Show Isnt Happening, Something Sad Happened. I’m Bummed”.

Mohawk wrote on their Facebook page: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and injured from tonight’s tragedy. Please check and make sure everyone you know is home safe tonight.”

An urban festival, South By Southwest takes place across multiple venues in Austin, Texas. Due to its concentration of venues and bars, Red River is one of the busiest streets for the duration of the event.