AUSTIN (KXAN) — In response to three shootings in downtown Austin last weekend, Chief of Police Brian Manley said his department is increasing the number of officers in and around the downtown entertainment district on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Part of the increased police presence will not be noticed by the public, Manley said.
There were two shootings on Saturday, Oct. 20 — only minutes apart — and another the following day, sending multiple people to the hospital.
The first shooting started at 2:11 a.m. on Saturday during a fight in the LAZ parking lot at East Sixth and San Jacinto Street. Officers responded to a shooting where a suspect pulled out a weapon and fired it at the feet of another person.
The crowd scrambled, and the suspect continued to fire into the crowd, Chief Manley said. One person not involved in the altercation was hit by the gunfire and taken to a local hospital.
The suspect, 21-year-old Dominic Lopez, is described by police as a documented Crips gang member.
Minutes later, at 2:15 a.m. in the area of Seventh and Trinity streets, several shots were fired in a separate incident.
The victim said he was walking toward his vehicle in the St. David’s Episcopal Church parking garage when he was approached by five suspects who started to beat him on this head and his body.
He was able to escape but was shot as he ran away from the suspects. The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment, Manley said. Officers detained several subjects in the area but were unable to find the suspect.
On Sunday at 2:26 a.m., in the LAZ parking lot at 400 E. Seventh St., officers were flagged down for a reported shooting.
The victim was walking with friends and became involved in a verbal altercation with another group. A suspect in the second group shot at the first group, hitting the victim in the hand.
No arrests were made.
From Jan. 1 to Oct. 22 of last year, there were 27 firearm incidents in the downtown area, Chief Manley said. In that same time period this year, there were 25 firearm incidents.
However, in the month of October, eight firearm incidents have occurred, compared to only two the previous year.
The police chief said they do not believe the shootings were linked.
Even though Austin police have a shortage of officers right now, Ken Casaday, the president of the Austin Police Association, said it won’t be difficult to put more officers downtown.
“We have people in organized crime and other areas of the department that can work with other officers on patrol,” Casaday said. “You heard Chief Manley say there’d be people in uniform and not in uniform, so those people don’t come from patrol. They come from other areas of the department.”
APD is working to increase portable lighting in areas that are not as well lit in the entertainment district.
“Make sure you go out and have a good time, but do so responsibly,” the chief said. “Do not overindulge. Do not leave yourself in a condition that you cannot take care of yourself.”