AUSTIN (KXAN) — A street fight in downtown Austin Wednesday morning escalated to the point where a scooter was thrown through the rear windshield of a car, according to the victim of the incident.
Lawrence Black said he was on his way to work when a man stepped into the intersection of Seventh Street and Brazos and blocked traffic.
Black said he’s seen the man panhandling in the past and said he began punching and kicking his car. When Black stepped out of his car to confront him, he said the man attacked him.
“He was trying to cause an accident,” Black said. “He threw a punch at me and I slammed him to the ground and held him there.”
Cell phone video, taken from the ninth floor of a high rise at that intersection, shows Black pinning his alleged aggressor down. You can see Black eventually release him.
That’s when the man jumps up, grabs a scooter off the sidewalk and hurls it into the rear windshield of Black’s parked car. He then runs down the street and out of the video frame.
“At this point I’m just waiting for the police to show up. I’m not going to chase the guy,” Black said.
APD said its property crimes unit is investigating this as criminal mischief. They said they haven’t found the suspect yet.
The suspect is described as:
- White male
- Between late 20s or early 30s
- Last seen wearing a bright blue shirt, black pants and black shoes
- Described as having dirty clothes and a foul odor
Sam Pohl, the communications director for the Texas GOP, witnessed the fight from above. His colleague shot the video that has garnered attention on social media.
He said the streets outside of his office has seen an increase in homeless panhandlers recently.
“There are quite a few there and we don’t usually see anything escalate quite that much,” Pohl said. “I can say they are homeless because I’ve seen them on the street consistently asking for money.”
Governor Greg Abott retweeted the video and posed a question: “Is Austin’s policy of allowing the homeless to do whatever they want really helping the homeless?”
Black, who said he didn’t have stable housing for around 20 years, does not attribute this morning’s fight to a homeless problem. He said it was likely instigated through apparent drug use.
“There’s a lot of people making assumptions. This guy was homeless, but that is not the problem. The problem going on here is drugs,” Black said. “I just don’t want people to blame it on the homeless. It’s a lack of resources, treatment and counseling available to these people.”
Black thinks Austin residents need to change the way they are seeing the city work through the homeless ordiances.
“We need to have this discussion and we are not all going to agree. But we need to find something that works and something that is not going to shove the problem under the carpet,” Black said.
Governor’s message to Mayor Adler
The governor’s tweet comes just days after he sent an ultimatum to Austin’s Mayor.
He said if Austin doesn’t fix its homeless crisis by November 1, he’ll unleash the full authority of every state agency to protect the health and safety of all Texans. The Mayor responded by saying he welcomed the support.