AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN sat down with the family of Douglas Kantor, the 25-year-old man who was shot and killed on June 12, 2021 after a mass shooting on Sixth Street in downtown Austin.

The family arrived in Austin from New York for the second time in nearly 10 months. Unfortunately, their purpose for being here is not the typical reason thousands of others come to Austin every year, including the reasons Doug initially chose to visit Austin.

“He chose Austin, because he heard it was a fun, beautiful city,” said Doug’s mother, Julia Kantor. “He thought he was going to be safe.”

Doug came to Austin to visit a friend and celebrate his recent graduation after receiving his master’s degree from the University of Michigan.

One day before Doug was supposed to fly home, Julia’s worst nightmare became a reality when she received a phone call from an unknown Austin number in the early morning hours of June 12, 2021.

The caller informed her that her son had been shot below the rib cage while on Sixth Street.

He was an innocent bystander enjoying Austin’s entertainment district the night De’Ondre White is suspected to have opened fire on crowds of people after a confrontation with a rival group of individuals on Sixth Street.

The Kantor family flew to Austin from New York as quickly as possible, but after multiple surgeries, life-saving measures were unsuccessful, and Doug died from his injuries.  

Now nearly 10 months later, the Kantor family has returned to Austin so they could see the man accused of killing Doug in court for the first time.

The Kantor family said the return has not been easy.

“I get knots in my stomach every time I think about this city,” said Julia.

  • The family of Douglas Kantor speaks to the media after a hearing Tuesday, April 5. Kantor died after a shooting on Sixth Street in 2021. (Photo: Chris Nelson/KXAN)
  • The family of Douglas Kantor speaks to the media after a hearing Tuesday, April 5. Kantor died after a shooting on Sixth Street in 2021. (Photo: Chris Nelson/KXAN)
  • The family of Douglas Kantor speaks to the media after a hearing Tuesday, April 5. Kantor died after a shooting on Sixth Street in 2021. (Photo: Chris Nelson/KXAN)
  • The family of Douglas Kantor speaks to the media after a hearing Tuesday, April 5. Kantor died after a shooting on Sixth Street in 2021. (Photo: Chris Nelson/KXAN)

The Kantors’ message

The Kantors expressed their gratitude to the police officers that responded to the scene of the crime that night.

Due to the crowds and traffic in the area, it was difficult for ambulances to navigate to the scene, so police officers on scene put Doug in their patrol car and drove him to the hospital.

“We’re all very grateful for the police to just disregard all that and get him to the hospital and give him the best chance of survival,” said Julia.

However, the family feels the political climate between the city and its law enforcement at the time had an impact on the circumstances leading to Doug’s death.

“Had things been done differently in this city, and the police not been defunded, I don’t think we’d be sitting here having this press conference or interview. I think that my brother would still be alive,” said Nick Kantor.

The “defunding” Nick Kantor is referencing relates to the 2020-21 budget that the Austin City Council adopted that moved $150 million dollars from the Austin Police Department, which created a shift in how policing and public safety were carried out in the city.

In August 2021, the Austin City Council approved a record-high 2021-22 budget for the Austin Police Department.

Not only do the Kantors say they want to see justice for Doug and the other 14 injured victims, they want to make the tragedy of Doug’s death something that will hopefully bring positive change to make Austin safer.

“I want this to be the landmark that turns this city from where it is now to where it was when my brother was on the computer research, and I want the city to turn back and remember what happened to my brother and say this is never going to happen again,” said Nick.