AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man died early Tuesday morning after responding Austin police officers shot at him following an initial shooting on the road involving an off-duty police officer who was in his personal car. A woman was also shot and police found a baby uninjured in the back seat.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says the off-duty officer told them the man, identified later on Tuesday afternoon as Alexander Gonzales, 27, cut him off in traffic just after 12:30 a.m. and then pointed a gun at him.
“The officer fired at the suspect at this point. Multiple rounds were fired by the officer,” Manley said. The officer called 911 and continued to follow the car south down Wickersham Lane near Oltorf Street in southeast Austin.
Eventually the car came to a stop at a curb at 12:37 a.m. with the off-duty officer’s car behind it, and responding on-duty officers arrived.
Through body worn cameras, a woman can be seen lying on the ground outside of the passenger side of the car.
Manley says the officers told Gonzales in English and Spanish to get away from his car and to put his hands in the air, but he did not listen. Instead, Manley said Gonzales walked around the car to the rear passenger side door and reached inside.
“As he reaches into the vehicle the on-duty Austin police officer fired shots at him, striking him at that moment and then he goes down,” Manley said.
Officers pronounced Gonzales dead at the scene. They also found what they believe is his gun.
“We have located a firearm where this scene ended where the car is right now and that is believed to be the same firearm,” Manley said.
They also found the woman who had been in the passenger seat was shot, and there was an uninjured baby.
The woman is 33 years old. Emergency crews took her to the hospital where she had surgery. Manley said her vital signs are currently stable. As for the baby, Manley says they are trying to get the child reunited with family members.
“We also know that there was an infant child in this car who was not injured who was also transported to the hospital with APD victim services and are working on placement arrangements for that child,” Manley said.
As the scene unfolded, Michael Smith, a resident in a building nearby, captured the altercation from his balcony. The footage shows the first officer warning the suspect to lie down and put his hands up, saying, “Do not make me shoot you again, man!” Once they arrive, the other officers can be heard yelling, “Put your hands up!” and its Spanish translation, “Manos arriba!”
GRAPHIC WARNING: Video shows intense language and sounds of gunshots
Other neighbors who spoke to KXAN called the situation “horrific” and “traumatic.” One woman names Corrine Tullos said, “Never in my life have I sat there with an officer right below my window with gunshots.”
Possibility that road rage led to this incident?
While Chief Manley’s account of what led to the initial shooting sounded like it might be road rage, he said it is too early to go there.
“Well I’m not going to speculate about what led up to any of this, Manley said. “I can only put out the facts that we know right now and that is as our officer turned onto Wickersham he said this car cut around him, pulled up beside him and again pointed a firearm at him.”
Body cameras captured deadly shooting but not initial confrontation
Manley said police body cameras the arriving officers were wearing captured the deadly shooting and Gonzales reaching into his vehicle.
The off-duty officer was not wearing a body cam, so there was no video of the initial confrontation or shooting. Manley is asking the public for its help.
“We’re asking anyone that was in this neighborhood that saw any part of this interaction to please call us and identify yourself so we can interview you. If you have video of this interaction, that will be very important with our ongoing investigation,” Manley said.
Police say anyone with cell phone or surveillance photos or video of what happened can share them and report any information they have by calling Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS, or using the Crime Stoppers App or APD’s mobile app, Austin PD, on iPhone and Android.
What happens next?
Both officers are on administrative leave. The off-duty officer has been with the department for five years, and the on-duty officer for two years. Neither was hurt.
Manley did say there will be lengthy investigations.
“This is a very dynamic and unfolding investigation right now as I’ve laid out and there’s a lot of work that will continue through the early morning and throughout the day today,” he said.
A criminal investigation will be handled by APD’s Special Investigation Unit along with the District Attorney’s Office, and the another investigation will be handled by APD Internal Affairs with help from the Office of Police Oversight.