AUSTIN (KXAN) – A mother and son say they were locked inside Perez Elementary for hours while a standoff between police and a man who allegedly hijacked a taxi cab was happing just outside.
“I was terrified, I didn’t want to die. It felt really scary,” said 12-year-old Carlos Rubio.
Rubio says he was playing with a friend outside of the school when a taxi cab along with multiple cop cars came speeding down the road. “I saw the taxi driving real fast and I quickly jumped to the sidewalk. I almost got hit,” he said.
Rubio says he then ran inside the school to his mother who was having a parent-teacher conference. “I look out the window and I see the cab and a bunch of APD getting close to him and pulling out the shields, weapons drawn,” said Rubio’s mother Juana Aguilera. “I was terrified. I could hear gunshots being fired and then we could hear the microphone yelling put the gun down, don’t hurt yourself.”
Police say the driver of the taxi cab aimed a gun at police several times before seven officers shot and killed him.
Aguilera’s home is close to where the shooting happened on Edge Creek Drive, her neighbor’s home has at least six gunshot holes. Aguilera’s husband and other children were at home while she was locked in the school, she says police evacuated her family just before shots were fired.
When the taxi was loaded onto a tow truck Tuesday morning, bullet holes could be seen all over the vehicle.
Looking at what’s left behind, neighbors can’t help but think about small mercies. “Children often playing outside could have easily been hit or anything like that,” said Aguilera. “Or if he decided to exit the vehicle at any point and take off through these houses or something, then that would have caused more damage.”
Aguilera and her son say police kept them inside the school all evening. They were released around 9 p.m. Monday night and allowed to return home just before 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Neighbors say their quaint community is shaken
Meanwhile, neighbors in the Chateau at Onion Creek community say they’re still trying to grasp what happened in their quiet, gated community. Many say they were forced outside and watched as negotiators and SWAT members cornered the suspect around the neighborhood’s exit gate.
“Police were going to the homes that were nearest everything that was taking place, evacuating people from their homes,” said community pastor Richard Villarreal, who lives just a couple of blocks down from where the shooting happened.“We were trying to decipher what was going on, and then all of the sudden, out of nowhere, these gunshots,” he recalled. “We heard eight to 10 gunshots, just rapid gunfire one after another.”
Villarreal said things went quiet for a while, and an ambulance arrived.
“Then about 15 to 20 minutes later, we heard another round of gunfire go off,” Villarreal said.
“We all got scared,” said Gerardo Morales, who hid with his family inside of their home. “My sister was crying, my brother, he was crying too, because he was afraid we were going to get shot.”
Morales said he and his father watched as police crouched in their yard. Later, his family found a bullet in their driveway.
Villarreal says he’s met with several families with small children who are having trouble coping with what happened.
“Very scary, and even talking to some families, just hearing some of the families that have been traumatized by this and in need of victim’s services,” he said, “Hoping to get that addressed and get the families connected with some of the services that they need.”
According to APD, seven officers fired at the suspect. They’ve all been placed on administrative leave. An APD spokesperson says of those seven, two are patrol officers, two are SWAT members and three work in the narcotics unit. The spokesperson said, if needed, APD will use overtime officers to fill those vacant positions while they’re on administrative duty.