AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is seeking the public’s help finding a person of interest in connection to the stabbing of a minor in downtown Austin early Thursday, the agency said in a news release.
At approximately 5:40 a.m., 911 dispatch received an urgent service call in the 200 block of West Avenue, according to police. Officers and Austin-Travis County EMS responded to the scene and found a victim with stab wounds.
In a social media post, the Austin Police Association said a minor was on his way to work near the Seaholm District and was “brutally attacked” by the suspect. Furthermore, the association said this was a random act.
The minor was taken to a local hospital with non-serious injuries, according to police.
The person of interest is described by police as:
- Race: Unknown
- He was last seen carrying a brown/gray backpack, and wearing a turquoise-colored head covering, a black shirt, black pants, and black shoes.
Political action committee, APA link incident to camping ban
On social media, Matt Mackowiak, the co-founder of the Save Austin Now political action committee, claimed the incident was connected to the city’s lack of enforcement of the camping ban.
The City first lifted its camping ban in 2019. According to police data, the next year the city saw nearly 600 more aggravated assaults. But since the ban went back into effect in 2021,
aggravated assaults have continued to rise. More than 3,000 incidents were reported in 2022.
“This is a scary situation,” Mackowiak said.
Save Austin Now brought the camping ban to the ballot, and is now using this latest incident and others like it to criticize city leaders.
“You’re not going to eliminate violent incidents in our city, but you need to enforce Prop B, you will minimize them significantly. This was likely a preventable situation,” Mackowiak said.
“Of course, not every crime is committed by a homeless person, nor are we saying that in this case,” Mackowiak said. “We’ve been credibly told by law enforcement that this was a big threat, also from people associated with the building [where the latest incident happened].”
We asked Austin Mayor Kirk Watson about those criticisms. In a statement, his office said:
Austin voters said loud and clear in 2021 that they want the camping ban enforced, and the State passed legislation saying that there must be enforcement of the camping ban. It’s very difficult to enforce that camping ban effectively and humanely without having shelter capacity and having sufficient shelter capacity. And, while you can tell someone you can’t camp or be in a certain place, you can’t order them to go to another place.
In the past few months, we’ve moved swiftly to build up shelter capacity to give people a better place to go. We’ve created a new temporary shelter at the Marshalling Yard, which is now housing 200 people; we’ve expanded the Northbridge and Southbridge Shelters to accommodate 130 more people and are reopening the Downtown Salvation Army shelter that was abandoned by the Salvation Army.
On top of the work we’re doing to create more shelter space, we pushed for and were successful in preventing lay-offs and a reduction in important services at Integral Care, who are central to addressing the mental health needs of those living homeless in Travis County.
There is still a lot of work to do. And we will continue to move swiftly to enforce the campaign ban humanely.Statement from Mayor Watson
KXAN reached out to all city council members who are on the public safety committee. They either didn’t want to comment or weren’t available to respond to our request Thursday. We will update this article if any statements are received.
Anyone with any information about the stabbing may submit their tip anonymously through the Capital Area Crime Stoppers Program by visiting austincrimestoppers.org or calling 512-472-8477. A reward of up to $1,000 may be available for any information that leads to an arrest.