AUSTIN (KXAN) — An investigation has been launched after an Austin Police officer fired their gun during a shootout between two groups of people downtown overnight.
Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said two officers ran toward the sound of gunfire on East 6th and Sabine Streets at about 1:15 a.m. on Saturday.
When they arrived at the scene, the officers saw a group of men shooting at another group. In response, one of the officers fired their weapon, Chacon said, and the suspects fled the scene.
It is unclear if anyone was shot by the officer, Chacon said.
A few minutes later, officers found a 17-year-old Black male with a gunshot wound, Chacon said. The teenager was taken to a local hospital, but APD confirmed on Saturday morning that he later died from his injuries.
“Witnesses were located that advised that this appeared to be a dispute, and ultimately a gun battle between two different groups of individuals and multiple weapons were observed,” Chacon said in a media briefing early Saturday morning.
He said the officers were working a DWI investigation a block away from the incident when they heard gunshots.
A few minutes after the groups ran away from the scene, officers located two people that appear to have been involved and recovered a handgun.
They then found the critically injured 17-year-old. Police don’t know whether the teenager was shot by the officer or one of the other people involved in the shootout.
Chacon asked anyone who witnessed the incident or has video of the shooting to contact police by calling 9-1-1 or the Crimestoppers tipline at 512 472-8477.
This is the latest shooting to break out this summer in the downtown entertainment district.
“I think what we have to start changing is the type of development. I know we have a historic street, but those buildings are falling apart,” said an East 6th Street resident. “It’s time to start taking care of it and finding investors and developers who are willing to do things differently on 6th street.”
This East 6th street resident has lived near where the Friday night shooting happened for five years. He says crime has come and gone, but recently the shootings have become more concentrated.
“We need 6th street to be a place where people want to go everyday of the week for a lot of different reasons, not just party, get sick, buy drugs and maybe get shot,” said the resident.
Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo agrees.
“We need some culture changes down on 6th street, and among all of these things, we need to confront the very real presence of illegal guns in our community,” said Tovo.
Tovo sponsored the safer 6th street resolution after the deadly mass shooting this past summer in the historic district.
A memorandum was presented to Austin City Council members and the mayor days before this deadly shooting. In it are physical changes to 6th Street like increasing lighting and efforts to curb underage drinking.
Among the possible resolutions is creating “pop up” walkways instead of blocking off the street entirely.
“We want to have a safe passage for pedestrians. Right now, with the street closed, it creates a large area where people can gather,” said Tovo. “Unfortunately, we have seen multiple situations where those large gatherings lead to fights and real acts of gun violence.”
Body camera footage captured the moment the officer fired the weapon, Chacon said.
The officer involved in the shooting is a four-year veteran with APD and will be placed on administrative duty.