AUSTIN (KXAN)—Wearing buttons with Douglas Kantor’s smiling face, his family sat in the front row in the courtroom in downtown Austin, watching his final moments play out.
De’Ondre White, 20, is on trial for murder. He’s accused of firing into crowds on Austin’s Sixth Street in June 2021, killing Kantor, 25.
Police said Kantor was an innocent bystander.
White is also facing an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, leaving 36-year-old Jessica Ramirez paralyzed with prolonged health problems as a result of being shot during the mass shooting.
White pleaded not guilty.
Opening statements and testimony
Opening statements lasted less than an hour.
“He was trying to hide and run from what he did,” the state said, arguing White was the only person to fire a gun that night.
The state also accused White of changing his appearance, and hiding the gun he allegedly used during the shooting.
White’s defense argued he and his friends got into it with another group of underage kids in town from Killeen.
“Was then escalated by those gang members and one of them pulled a weapon out of his waistband, and Mr. White felt that he had no choice but to defend himself and his friend,” White’s defense team said.
Before lunch on Tuesday, several Austin Police Department officers who responded to the scene that night testified before the court. They joined shooting victim Ramirez, a man out in the area that night and Kantor’s mother, who all also testified.
Graphic police body camera video was also shown.
“Everyone in front of me started running, ducking, falling to the ground,” APD Officer Tommy Lester said.
A portion of body camera video showed Kantor running toward officers bleeding out, several in uniform working to do everything they could to try to save him.
Kantor’s family sobbed in the courtroom watching this. Kantor’s father at one point, placed his head in his hands, to shield his eyes from seeing what was being played.
A night out celebrating grad school graduation
While on the stand, Kantor’s mother explained he was in Austin visiting from Michigan.
“He was with friends he grew up with,” Kantor’s mother said tearfully on the stand during her testimony.
According to Kantor’s family, he had just graduated with his master’s in business from the University of Michigan. Kantor’s family said he was working in the IT Department at Ford Motor Company before he died.
Kantor’s mother talked about how her son was in love with his high school sweetheart before he was killed.
A larger than usual crowd on Sixth Street
The night of the Sixth Street mass shooting, June 12, 2021 happened when hundreds — if not thousands — of people were in the area, according to Austin police.
ROT Rally, a motorcycle rally, was happening that weekend.
According to an APD officer’s testimony, he said he noticed a group of people walking around the Sixth Street area before the shooting happened. He said those in the group looked younger than 21 years old.
The state told jurors there were two groups of underage kids from Killeen that got into an altercation before the shooting.
“One of those groups consisted of several people, they became to be known as the 543 group…from Killeen,” the state said. “All of them were underage…For whatever reason, things between those two groups escalated very quickly…Doug died because of people he had never seen or met in his life, because of people who brought guns.”
More than a dozen were hurt in the mass shooting.
Kantor’s family is expected to hold a press conference at the end of the first day of trial on Tuesday.