SXSW Carries On in Wake of Fatal Crash; New Details on Victims, Suspect

AP Photo/The Daily Texan, Shweta Gulati
SXSW managing director Roland Swenson address the media during a news conference on Thursday, March 13, 2014 in Austin, TX

UPDATE: Suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens

Organizers of South By Southwest planned to carry on with all daytime events in the wake of last night's deadly car accident that left two dead and 23 injured.

At a press conference at the scene on Thursday morning, SXSW co-founder and managing director Roland Swenson expressed his shock and sympathies for the victims, adding "as much as we want to go home and absorb the shock of this event," the day's events will go on.

The accident occurred on Red River between 9th and 11th St. outside The Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie's. Swenson said individual venues in the area would decide whether to cancel or postpone events. The Mohawk announced they were canceling today's House of Vans showcase with Cloud Nothings and Fu---d Up, and one of the artists scheduled to perform in the Homesick Philly showcase at Cheer Up Charlies today, Chill Moody, posted on his Tumblr that the set had been canceled.

"We're talking to [the venues] to see how they should best proceed," said a visibly emotional Swenson. "We feel we have an obligation to the people who have traveled here from all over the world."

Two blocks south, at 8th, is the legendary Stubb's BBQ, where Lady Gaga is slated to perform tonight.

"We have not been in touch with Gaga [about her gig at Stubbs] but it would probably cause more problems if anyone canceled," he said.

Chiefs of Police, Fire and EMS departments, and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, also addressed the media Thursday morning, detailing the rescue efforts and the incident that led up to the suspect driving through the crowded street at 12:30 a.m.

The suspect, a black male suspected of driving while intoxicated, was booked on two capital murder charges and will be arraigned this afternoon at which time police will release his name. The Austin Statesman and other media outlets have identified the suspect as Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21.

The two fatalities were only identified as a man from the Netherlands riding a bike and a local woman on a moped. Both were adults.

Of the 23 people injured, two are still in very critical condition, three are receiving treatment and considered seriously injured. The Red Cross will be releasing a list of names and their condition Thursday afternoon.

Police Chief Art Acevedo provided details of the incident: An officer looking for drunken drivers pulled over a suspect on Frontage Road next to Interstate 35.  The suspect pulled into a gas station and before the officer could stop the suspect he accelerated through the gas station and up 9th Street.  He turned right onto Red River plowing though street barricades and accelerating for two blocks hitting people waiting in line at the clubs, a bicyclist, two people on a moped and a taxi. He drove through a parking lot and crashed into a van. The suspect then ran on 11th street and the officer who had been pursuing in a vehicle chased him on foot, before tasing him and making the arrest.

"This is a selfish individual with no regard for other people,” Acevedo.  “It’s a tragedy and an opportunity for a gut check. We can be scared for a minute but I can tell you I saw the best of humanity come together to restore order.” Acevedo said."The investigation is ongoing and moving rapidly." The police have requested that people with video hand it to them rather than post on social media.

If you or anyone has eyewitness knowledge of what happened the police request you call them at 512-974-5186.

Additional reporting by Marc Schneider and Harley Brown


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