AUSTIN (KXAN) — Describing a night out on Austin’s Sixth Street in 2021, Assiah Howard stood up in the witness box to reenact what she saw.
She showed a jury what she remembered: a teen in a different friend group “purposefully” pulling up his shirt to “flash” his gun from the waistband of his pants. She testified, “I really felt like he was going to shoot the gun.”
She went on to say, “It would have been us.”
Shots were fired, but Howard’s friend De’Ondre White, 21, is the person accused of firing them into a crowd after a confrontation between the two friend groups. 25-year-old bystander, Douglas Kantor, was hit and later died; more than a dozen others were injured in the mass shooting.
White has been charged with one count of murder and 14 counts of aggravated assault. He pleaded not guilty in court earlier this week. On the fourth day of his trial, the jury heard from Howard and White’s other friend, Heaven Chappell, who were both on Sixth Street at the time of the shooting.
Prosecutors had Howard walk through her recollection of the moments leading up to the shooting and of what happened afterward — at one point putting up a picture of her with White, taken prior to when their group of friends headed downtown.
Howard told the jury her group of friends ultimately blamed Jeremiah Tabb, 19, for instigating the shooting. Tabb, or “JT,” had come to Sixth Street with Howard and White’s group.
He faces felony charges of tampering with evidence. Police believe Tabb tried to dispose of the gun that White is accused of using in the incident.
Howard testified that Tabb “went out of his way to call” over another group of kids from Killeen and then described seeing one of them — identified earlier this week as Tyshawn Degrate — show the weapon in his waistband.
Degrate took the stand on Wednesday and testified that he never shot his gun.
Howard described see flashes from three “back-to-back” gunshots coming from her left, before everyone began running.
She said their group of friends, including White and Tabb, gathered in the parking lot of a motel nearby in the minutes after the shooting. Howard said everyone in the group started arguing, and White was being the “mediator.”
Howard said Tabb had thanked White in the aftermath of the shooting, saying she believed Tabb looked up to White and liked him, but wasn’t in his regular group of friends. Howard also agreed when the defense counsel asked her, “If [Tabb] had never gone with you, all this wouldn’t have happened?”
The defense then asked Howard if it was possible Degrate was showing his weapon as a warning. She disagreed and said she “wholeheartedly” believed that if White hadn’t fired the gun, that her group would have been shot.
When asked by prosecutors whether she was grateful, Howard said she was grateful for her life everyday, but that what happened “sucks either way.”
Prosecutors asked both Howard and Chappelle about conversations that happened after the group returned to an apartment in Killeen that night. The latter testified that she knew Tabb had asked for White’s weapon, but that was all.
Both women testified they never saw a gun back at apartment.
The Kantor family sat in the front row of the courtroom, and their attorney, Doug O’Connell said they plan to attend “every minute of every day of the trial.”
O’Connell said he doubted some of the testimony given by witnesses so far in the trial.
“That’s incredible because even if you had nothing to do with the shooting, having just been at ground-zero of a shooting that left people sprawled in the street, you would have been talking about that. Anyone would have been talking about that,” he said.
Proceedings wrapped up earlier in the day on Friday, and the trial is scheduled to continue on Tuesday. The judge told the court he hopes the trial will wrap up Wednesday or Thursday morning, at the latest.