People in east Austin describe shootings, violence in their neighborhood


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Neighbors on one east Austin street are scared for their own lives, but afraid to bring attention to it, saying their voices may only spark additional threats. 

They described frequent drive-by shootings and other violent crimes. 

“We need to try to make a change. Not just here but everywhere,” said Jophfrey Jackson, who lives in the east Austin neighborhood. 

Purple Sage Drive is bustling with activity. But when the sun sets, neighbors say they don’t feel safe in their own homes. 

“I hear it. It was right here next door, they came by and started shooting,” said Tracy Yett, who lives on Purple Sage Drive. 

Neighbors I spoke to pointed out bullet holes in the side of one duplex. People who have lived on the street for decades say they’ve seen an uptick in violent crime recently. 

“They kept on shooting, three days in a row, back to back,” Yett said. 

“Nobody should live in a situation where they don’t feel that they can safely report things,” said Commander Robert Richman with the Austin Police Department. 

Commander Richman watches over that specific district. He acknowledged the neighborhood has seen its share of criminal activity and said his drug and street gang units are giving the area more attention.  

He said, in general, his team will analyze the types of crimes most prevalent to a specific section of the city. Then APD will use different police units to address the issue to create sustainable change. 

“We are looking for a long-term solution, that’s why we want to use all of our resources to actually get in there and solve the problem,” Commander Richman said. 

Commander Richman said APD will take a community policing approach first and foremost. He hopes to enlist the help of citizens to report crimes and act as witnesses so they can take repeat offenders off the streets. 

“Make a police report, come to these community engagement forums we have and be a part of it. Say ‘hey, these are the types of problems we are having.” 

Other neighbors are also searching for ways to bring the violence to an end, suggesting events like neighborhood block parties for the whole family. 

“Just more people coming together, loving one another, treating each other like brothers and sisters,” Jackson said. “Not just Purple Sage, this is bigger than Purple Sage. Period. This is the time for people to come together.”  

Commander Richman also shared APD’s community outreach plans called “Operation Blue Wave.” Officers take an entire shift off to go door-to-door and speak to people in the community. He said it happens once a month and he hopes his team will get out to Purple Sage Drive soon. 

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