AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin and Texas leaders are pouring out support for first responders and those hurt in a shooting early Saturday on the bustling Sixth Street in downtown Austin. One died and at least 13 people were hurt in the situation that Council member Mackenzie Kelly called “horrific.”
Mayor Steve Adler, Council member Kelly, Council member Greg Casar, Council member Kathy Tovo and many other leaders throughout the state thanked first responders for their efforts.
“I’m thankful for all of the first responders who quickly stepped in to take care of our community at last night’s mass shooting on Sixth Street,” Travis County Judge Andy Brown wrote. “My thoughts are with everyone affected directly and our entire community waking up to this tragedy.”
Adler said the focus right now is catching whoever is responsible. Both Adler and Kelly urged anyone with information about the shooting to share that information with police by calling 9-1-1 or the APD tipline at 800-893-8477.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the Texas Department of Public Safety is working with Austin police to investigate. He added “Cecilia and I ask our fellow Texans to join us in prayer for those who were injured.”
Kelly, who represents District 6 in northwest Austin, said she was also praying for those who were hurt and their families.
“Let there be no question: This despicable and cowardly act of gun violence only steels our commitment to making Austin lead the nation in being the safest city in America,” Kelly wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “No community should ever experience what occurred this morning in Austin.”
Mayor Adler said APD and the Austin City Council have “initiated multiple violence prevention efforts in response,” but didn’t elaborate. He added, “but this crisis requires a broader, coordinated response from all levels of government.”
“One thing is clear – greater access to firearms does not equal greater public safety,” Adler added, likely in reference to the permitless carry legislation the Texas legislature passed this session.
Casar, who represents district 4 in north Austin, echoed the sentiment of reducing gun violence.
“While the uptick in gun violence here in Austin is part of a national trend, we know that gun violence is preventable. We must recommit and double down on efforts locally to reduce violence, reduce the widespread proliferation of guns, and save lives,” he wrote.
Tovo reiterated that “At every level of government, we must work harder to prevent these terrible and preventable acts of gun violence.”
KXAN has reached out to other members of the Austin City Council and will update this story if they respond.
Texas leaders weigh in
House Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-47, said she was out downtown Friday night with friends. Her district includes parts of Travis County.
“This breaks my heart. There’s too much hate in the world. Blaming people or policy doesn’t help. Supporting one another, looking for solutions, being a community will move us forward,” Goodwin tweeted in response to the shooting Saturday morning.
State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-14, represents parts of Travis and Bastrop Counties. She said she was similarly heartbroken for the victims and all those affected by the violence, but also angry.
“I am angry because the politicians of Texas have failed to keep their constituents safe. 27 died in Sutherland Springs. 10 died in Santa Fe. 23 died in El Paso, and another 7 died in Midland-Odessa. Now, 13 innocent Texans are in the hospital. Every day in Texas, 10 people die from gun violence. Yet the legislature just spent five months making it easier for violent people to get guns. This problem will continue to get worse until Texas’ elected leaders have the courage to address it,” she said, adding she is “willing to meet anyone, anywhere, anytime who is serious about making Texas safer.”
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, whose district includes part of Austin, specifically highlighted the actions of Austin police officers overnight.
“It is noteworthy that it was Austin PD officers who were on the scene literally saving lives – applying tourniquets and taking people to the hospital – when EMTs couldn’t respond through the crowds. Crime in Austin continues to rise as our police force faces reduced resources, leaving Austinites feeling unsafe,” he added, referencing the Austin City Council’s efforts to cut $20 million from the Austin Police Department budget and move $130 million from its budget to other public safety programs.
Roy echoed others in saying the “perpetrator must face swift justice for this heinous crime.” He also called on city leaders to “make the right decisions” to ensure safety in Austin.