AUSTIN (KXAN) — Jury selection for a man accused of killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others in a mass shooting on downtown Austin’s Sixth Street started Monday.

Police believe the suspect opened fire into crowds following some kind of confrontation between two groups. According to court records, he and a group of friends drove to Sixth Street from Killeen when they encountered a rival group of men they knew from Killeen. Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said prosecutors believe De’Ondre White was the only shooter.

The June 2021 downtown shooting took the life of 25-year-old Douglas Kantor, who was in town visiting from Michigan.

Douglas Kantor
Douglas Kantor (Photo provided by Kantor family)

Kantor was an innocent bystander.

“[Kantor] chose Austin, because he heard it was a fun, beautiful city,” said the victim’s mother Julia during an April 2022 interview with KXAN investigator Dalton Huey. “He thought he was going to be safe.”

The shooting happened near Sixth and Trinity Streets, right in the heart of the entertainment district, according to police.

White’s trial is set to begin Tuesday, Aug. 29 after a day of jury selection.

The suspect faces murder and aggravated assault charges. KXAN has reached out to his attorney and will update this story when we receive a response.

City efforts to improve Sixth Street safety

After the mass shooting, former City Council Member Kathie Tovo – whose district included downtown – launched the Safer Sixth Street Initiative. It passed in March 2022.

It includes the following measures:

  • Critical incident training for businesses
  • Additional security (HALO) cameras on the street
  • Downtown EMS staging area
  • Lighting improvements
  • A potential grant program for businesses to enhance security
APD scene at Sixth Street Shooting
APD said some officers raced shooting victims to the hospital in their patrol vehicles during the June 2021 shooting.

Other measures, like permit changes to allow for outdoor seating at Sixth Street bars and restaurants launched, but did not receive much participation from businesses, city officials told KXAN earlier this year.

That factor was related to the goals of diversifying the space to more than just a nightlife destination, reducing stagnant crowds and improving pedestrian mobility.

City Council is set to approve adopting the 2024 East Sixth Street Public Improvement District Services and Assessment plan, which includes about $85,000 in funding, 40% of which will go towards the following public safety factors.

  • Coordinating with APD and SXSW to address “negative impacts from festival crowds”
  • Researching best practices on addressing panhandling
  • Monitoring special events, barricade plans
  • Coordinating with the Downtown Austin Alliance on safety partnerships
  • Addressing crowd control during festivals

Austin City Council will take this up at next week’s meeting.

Challenges of trying high-profile cases

“Any case that has garnered publicity poses challenges,” said defense attorney Alan Bennett. He’s not involved with this case, but has decades of experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. “There’s a much greater likelihood that they’ve already heard about the case, and they’ve already developed some preconceived ideas that you do not want them bringing into the jury room.”

He said when members of a jury pool do indicate they’re familiar with a case, a judge has them approach the stand to discuss instead of having everyone else listen to what that potential juror knows.

“So as [the court] learns about their experiences and what they’ve heard, it doesn’t taint the rest of the venire by the rest of the venire hearing,” he said.