How secure are Austin’s bars? San Antonio shooting raises questions

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin has dozens of music venues downtown similar to Ventura in San Antonio.

That bar was the site of shooting on Sunday, when 19-year-old suspect Kieran Christopher Williams reportedly opened fire around 8 p.m. — killing two people and injuring five.

Back on Sixth Street in Austin, most bars have signs with “51%” posted in big red letters. This is a reminder that Texas law states guns aren’t allowed in any establishment whose primary business is selling alcohol.

Outside Friends Bar, doorman Sunny sees himself as the first line of defense.

“We try to keep people that have full bags out,” Sunny said. “If you have a purse or something like that, you look for signs that someone is up to no good.”

What you don’t see at many Sixth Street bars, however, is any sort of metal detector or pat downs — something Ventura didn’t have either.

Security expert Alan Trevino calls that an oversight.

“You’ve got metal detectors, you’ve got hand wands, and you’ve got pat downs so you’ve got a variety of methods in order to check and see if the clientele that are coming in are armed,” Trevino said.

One venue that’s taking some of those steps is Stubbs, which even hires off-duty Austin police officers during major shows. Red River Cultural District Executive Director Cody Cowan says all 50 businesses in the area do extra training as well.

“We have engaged our merchants in active shooter training underneath Austin Police Department,” says Cowan.

While Sunny says the area feels safe to him, he acknowledges it may be time to start thinking about extra security measures.

“People don’t really respond well to, you know, heavy security measures that are put in place. It kind of ruins the fun of everything, but at the same time, people want to feel safe. So yeah, we’ll see.”

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