AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 24-year-old man is dead after he fired a gun at Austin police officers as they were chasing him early Sunday morning, the Austin Police Department said.
Police said the shooting happened in the 400 block of East Sixth Street, near Trinity Street, just before 2:45 a.m.
Austin police and family members have identified the man killed as Landon Nobles.
“We’re looking for answers because what eyewitnesses have told us does not line up to what the news is saying,” said Archie Lee Kelly Jr., Nobles’ pastor, employer, and uncle. Kelly spent the entire day Sunday grieving with friends and family at Nobles’ childhood home in east Austin.
“He was a great young man, I don’t understand what happened with the tragedy, it’s just a heartfelt situation and we just want to set the record straight,” Kelly said.
According to an Austin police press conference about the shooting, officers working on Sixth Street said they heard gunshots and reported this to a team monitoring HALO cameras in the area. After combing through HALO footage, a man firing a gun into the air in front of a bar was located. Officers issued a description of that man, and within minutes, police working nearby located him.
According to Austin police, when he saw the officers, the man began to run and officers began pursuit. They ran for half a block westbound on Sixth Street and then turned northbound in the 600 block of Trinity. The officers saw that he had a gun, and at one point during the chase, the suspect turned and fired at two officers following him, police say.
Both of those officers, identified Monday as Sgt. Richard Egal and Corporal Maxwell Johnson, returned fire and the man was hit.
Austin-Travis County EMS arrived within minutes and transported the man to University Medical Center Brackenridge with critical injuries. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 3:08 a.m.
Chief of Police Brian Manley said they found bullet casings at the scene that match the suspect’s weapon.
“I want to express my condolences to the family of this man,” said Manley at a news briefing Sunday morning. “Although he was involved in this situation, that he was down here, this is a tragic event that this community has seen before. Unfortunately we’ve seen this in communities across the country but it is no less tragic — it was a young life that was lost.”
Kelly said that his children and relatives were witnesses to the shooting on Sixth Street. He said their accounts of what happened don’t line up with what APD said.
“It doesn’t fit with [Nobles’] character, I don’t know where the gun came from, but from my understanding, from my children who told me, that saw everything — is that the bike police came and they threw a bike or something in front of him, and the gun went off, and when the gun went off he got up running and that’s when the officers fired the shots,” Kelly said.
Nobles was headed out for a birthday celebration with his cousins Saturday night, Kelly explained.
Kelly learned that his nephew had been shot at around 3:00 a.m. Sunday. He said that Noble’s immediate family all rushed to UMCB because a cousin heard EMS personnel mention that hospital while at the scene of the shooting. While APD stated that Nobles passed away at 3:08 a.m., Kelly was frustrated that Nobles’ family members waited at UMCB for three hours and were not informed that he had passed away until 6:30 a.m.
“I just think the police need to use non-lethal weapons because we have so many young men of African descent being killed all the time,” Kelly said. He explained that the family is still looking for more security footage and details about what happened to emerge.
“They say they have cameras, let the cameras be the evidence, whatever is on the cameras, that’s what we want to know,” Kelly said. “Show the cameras, show the tapes, let Austin know what really happened.”
Kelly described his nephew as a “fun, energetic guy” who leaves behind two young sons.
The officers involved in this shooting have both been placed on administrative duty. Sgt. Egal has been with the department for 18 years and Cpl. Maxwell has been with APD for seven years. Both APD and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office will conduct investigations.
Austin police said there were many witnesses in the area when the man fired his weapon into the air, but Manley would not say if the incident started as a fight. They are asking anyone with evidence such as photos or video taken with cellphones to provide that material to the department to aid in their investigation. They ask that people contact the APD tipline at 512-472-TIPS.
A YouTube user posted a video early Sunday morning of a fight where you can hear a possible shot being fired, but APD would not confirm if that was the incident that led up to the officer-involved shooting. Family member accounts of what Nobles was wearing Sunday morning line up with images of the man who was shot in the YouTube video.
This is the second deadly shooting involving APD officers this week. On Tuesday, May 2, an officer shot and killed 20-year-old Jason Sebastian Roque in northeast Austin. Police say they were originally responding for an attempted suicide involving a man waving a gun around erratically.