Austin Guitarist Shot in Shoulder During Robbery on Opening Night of SXSW

Police block off an area in downtown Austin, Texas.
Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

Police block off an area in downtown Austin, Texas. 

Austin musician Michael Sanders was shot in the shoulder during an armed robbery on Friday night (March 10) while walking home from a local concert that coincided with the first night of this year's SXSW festival. The guitarist for the local band Löwin was attacked near a spot that is popular for short-term rentals during the fest, according to the Austin Chronicle; the concert Sanders attended was not affiliated with SXSW and Sanders' band is not performing at the festival.

Speaking to the paper on Sunday (March 12), Sanders said he was on his way home from a Friday night performance at the Hotel Vegas by the band A Giant Dog when three masked men, armed with handguns and an AR-15 rifle, jumped out of the bushes near his home and stole his money and cell phone. As the robbers fled, Sanders said he was walking in the same direction toward his house when one man turned around and fired his handgun, hitting the guitarist in the shoulder. 

“It wasn’t as scary as it was matter of fact and surreal,” Sanders told the Chronicle. “My first thought to myself was ‘Oh my god, he shot me.’ My second thought was realizing that it didn’t hurt as bad as I would have expected.” Bleeding heavily, he was transported to a local hospital and learned the bullet had missed any major arteries, but fractured his humerus, likely rendering him unable to perform at the three shows his band has over the next week. 

Last year's SXSW drew to a close with a scary scene in which attendees ran for cover when someone shot into the air at the busy intersection of Sixth Street and Trinity. This year's event got off to a rough start after New York musician Told Slant canceled their appearance and a number of other acts spoke out on social media over a provision in the fest's contract that stated organizers could notify U.S. immigration authorities if SXSW determined that an act behaved in a way that could negatively impact the event, including playing non-sanctioned shows; organizers later removed that language from the contract.

Read the full Chronicle account of Sanders' scary night here.


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