DPS ‘stepping up’ surveillance in Austin after violent crimes over weekend

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is asking for the public’s help while also turning to the Texas Department of Public Safety following a weekend of violent crime in Austin

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley met with the media Monday to provide an update on six open investigations and to call for a larger police presence in order to quell violent crime in the city.

Currently, there are 180 vacancies in the police department, Manley said. Texas DPS has stepped up its surveillance in Austin to deter more violent crimes in the community.

“I believe some in this community have information on…these shootings, this murder, these lives that are forever changed. It is important that you come forward. We need to clear these cases. We need to solve these crimes and we need to hold people responsible,” APD Chief Brian Manley said.

Six shootings Chief Manley discussed at the briefing

Manley talked about six shootings, one of which was deadly, at Monday’s news conference. Most happened in a 24-hour period between last Friday and Saturday.

  • Jan. 8: Villita Avenida Street
    • Callers reported a drive-by shooting
    • A juvenile victim went to a local emergency room clinic with a gunshot wound
    • Second incident reported from the same area on January 10
  • Jan. 11: Reinli Street
    • 2nd homicide of 2020
    • Police believe it to be an isolated incident
  • Jan. 10: Hickok Court
    • People in two cars shooting at teach other
    • Five homes hit
    • Later, two people dropped off a gunshot victim at Dell Children’s Medical Center
  • Aggravated assault on Airport Blvd.
    • Someone knocked on a woman’s door. When she went to answer the knock, someone shot through the door.
  • Jan. 11: E. Parmer Lane
    • Two people involved in a disturbance shot at each other
  • Jan. 10: Interstate 35
    • Someone shot at a tow truck driver

Homes struck with stray bullets

“It was like a bad dream, too ugly to wake up from,” said Dalila Acuna whose home was hit by a bullet near Hickok Court, one of the shootings Manley talked about. “I was feeling so many emotions.”

One of her neighbors captured people in two cars shooting at each other on their home security camera.

Acuna said her first instinct was to yell “Gunshots! Gunshots!” and check on her kids. A bullet broke her bathroom window.

“I don’t know what’s wrong here. And for that we could’ve lost our lives in an instant,” she said.

Manley said after APD got calls about these shots, they got a call to respond to Dell Children’s Medical Center.

He said two people dropped off a man suffering a gunshot wound off at the hospital, but left without giving any information.

Police are now searching for the men.

Deadly shooting in east Austin

One person died after a shooting in east Austin Saturday morning. Medics were dispatched to the 1100 block of Reinli Street near Sheridan Avenue.

The shooting happened in the parking lot of Mueller City View apartments. Witnesses told officers three men fled westbound on foot.

Man accused of holding tow truck driver at gunpoint in northeast Austin

A man whose truck was about to be towed at a northeast Austin apartment complex is accused of holding the tow truck driver at gunpoint until he got his car back.

According to court documents, Austin police received a 911 call on Friday about the incident at the Cricket Hollow Apartments located at 11441 North Interstate Highway 35 Northbound. The area is east of the highway and north of Braker Lane.

Other incidents that happened

Austin-Travis County EMS responded to reports of a gunshot wound in south Austin Friday evening.

One man was shot and taken to the hospital with serious potentially life-threatening injuries, according to ATCEMS. The incident happened in the 7800 block of Wynne Lane near West Dittmar Road.

In East Austin, police are searching for a suspect after a man was seriously injured Saturday night.

Austin police first thought the man was shot when they arrived at the scene because the victim couldn’t speak, but investigators say after speaking with him at the hospital, he was possibly hit with a rock.

Officers responded to the 5700 block of Manor Rd. in Windsor Park around 10:30 p.m.

Public Safety Commission Chair reacts

Ed Scruggs, Chair of Austin’s Public Safety Commission, said hearing about these shootings is “very troubling.”

“I think it’s a warning sign to Austin that our level of gun violence is increasing,” he said. “We’re a safe larger city, but we’re starting to experience some of the problems that we see in Dallas and Houston and San Antonio. I think some people were fooled into thinking we were immune from this because of the economics of the city, our growth, our economy, but we’re not.”

Scruggs said data shows the number of violent crimes involving guns spiked between 2015 and 2016.

In 2018, there were 996 reports of homicide, robbery, aggravated assault and rape.

He said it’s also notable the number of guns stolen from cars has been increasing as well. He believes it’s important for the city to take a closer look at all the data.

“These bullets are landing in the homes of innocent people,” Scruggs said. “It’s a big wake up call.”

He said the city should consider how it can work with the community so community members can help de-escalate arguments, so disputes between people do not become crimes involving guns.

“Now is the time to get in there and take all the steps we need,” he said.

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