AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police is looking into several “street takeovers” that happened across the city over the weekend.
According to a press release from the department, they responded to four different “street takeover” incidents on Saturday night. During these takeovers, APD said the crowd threw rocks and bottles and pointed lasers at officers.
Witness videos show cars spinning and drifting around the intersection of Barton Springs and South Lamar with crowds of people standing around the cars.
The Austin Police Department originally characterized what happened as “street racing,” but on Sunday night instead called it a “street takeover.”
Another video shows a crowd pushing around an APD vehicle. Fireworks were also set off near the intersection, including one firework appearing to be on the APD car.
In an update Sunday evening, APD officials said one officer was injured and “several police cars” were damaged. The department said the officer was treated at a local hospital and released.
What was the timeline?
According to a press release, APD said it all started at approximately 9:01 p.m. A caller said five vehicles were blocking the intersection of Barton Springs Road and South Lamar Boulevard. Not long after, multiple people called 911 about “vehicles racing, circling the intersection, running red lights and shooting fireworks.” APD said there were no units nearby, so officers arrived at the scene at 9:23 p.m. The area was cleared at 9:46 p.m. But, they said it appeared the ‘Car Club’ continued to head North.
APD wrote, “At 10:27 p.m., an officer in the area of North Interstate 35 Service Road and East Anderson reported the ‘Car Club’ was at this location. Multiple vehicles began to drive recklessly, blocking the intersection and driving in circles disregarding traffic laws. Officers again dispersed the crowd.”
A few hours later at 12:52 a.m., officers responded to the area of Berkman Drive and Barbara Jordan Boulevard because of multiple 911 calls. “The officers reported glass bottles being thrown and again were able to disperse the crowd at 1:07 a.m.,” the press release said.
The last incident happened at 1:35 a.m. APD said the 911 calls stated, “vehicles were blocking the Metric Boulevard and Braker Lane intersection, doing donuts, and someone starting a fire.” The crowd was dispersed at 1:56 a.m.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office responded to one of the incidents in the north Austin area. Two TCSO cruisers were towed after their windows were shattered, a spokesperson said.
Has APD arrested anyone?
APD said two people were arrested for allegedly evading arrest. The department said its investigation into this incident continues, and further charges may be filed.
“The department wants to reiterate this behavior is reckless & poses significant risks and dangers to the public,” it tweeted. “APD remains committed to enforcing the law and keeping our community safe.”
What did witnesses see?
Brian Hillsman said he was on a nearby patio when cars began revving up. Cars and trucks with flags began doing donuts in the intersection. He said 40-50 vehicles were lined up with people hanging out of windows.
“People were here with professional cameras. It was planned,” he said.
He added he was concerned about cars spinning out of control. The group of people at the bar patio went inside for a while for safety, he said. Hillsman said police did not appear for 30-40 minutes.
“But I don’t think they could get here because traffic was backed up on every street from every direction,” he said. “When the cops did finally show up, it took a while for them to have any sort of presence. It was unreal.”
APD said it took officers about 20 minutes to arrive because there were no units nearby.
Mike Trevino said he was eating nearby when he saw the whole thing.
“There were probably at least two 300 people out there. Locking it down so that no one can get in there. And it shut down all the traffic from Lamar going all directions,” Trevino said.
What is the Austin Police Association’s response?
In a tweet early Sunday, the Austin Police Association blamed city policymakers for the incident, calling them “directly responsible for the overall safety of their citizens & visitors.”
“Looks like [Austin policymakers] failed to make the right decisions & continue to defund, destroy, & demoralize public safety. Austin was one of the safest cities, NOT anymore.”
Did social media influence ‘street takeover’?
“It is able to be out to the masses and there are people that have groups and clubs and they want their name to be pushed out to be shown off,” said car enthusiast, Isaac Rodriguez,
KXAN spoke to one witness who said people were going into the center of the street as cars did donuts around them.
“Everybody was breaking out their phones and filming this,” said a witness.
Some social media pages that seemed to update people on where to meet for the ‘street takeover’ were removed following the event.