AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two homeless men were shot in south Austin early Monday morning, Austin police say.
According to Austin-Travis County EMS, the two men were taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Police later told us their vital signs were stable.
The shooting was reported at 3:20 a.m. in the 1500 block of West William Cannon Drive. That’s between Woodhue and Cannonleague drives. Cpl. Michael Chavarria said the two men flagged down someone at the Cannon Place Apartments. That person called police and told them he saw the men come out of the woods “covered in blood” and asking for help.
The men told police they were under a bridge when they were shot. Both were shot in the upper torso, and at least one said he was asleep when the attack happened.
“It’s actually very dark under the bridge,” Chavarria said. “We went down there to do a search of the area, and the victims were unable to give us a good suspect description because it’s so dark.”
Part of a parking lot of the apartment complex was taped off Monday morning, and officers and a K-9 unit were investigating but unable to find any leads, police said.
Those who live in the area tell KXAN they have had issues with the homeless community for many years. “It feels neglected back there, everything is overgrown and people are coming and going all the time,” said Abraham Cazares.
Almost two years ago it was a break-in that caused Cazares to start asking the city for help. “They were very helpful, willing to listen and they were taking in my concerns and doing their best to navigate towards a solution,” he said.
However, after a few months, he says communication went silent. Now, more police and two people shot within eyesight of his home has him saying something has to be done. “These things are getting more serious and more brash, it just doesn’t feel good not to know what is going on back there,” said Cazares.
Cazares lives just feet from a trail he says leads to a homeless camp underneath the bridge. he says he’s asked police and council members if there was a way to block the path in hopes of limiting the amount of traffic in the alley. “Through red tape or whatever happened, the solution never came and now we’re at a much more critical point.”
After this shooting, Cazares says he isn’t backing down. “We’re going to make sure that the right people know that we have concerns about what is going on back there,” he said.
A spokesperson with the Austin Code Department says the last 311 complaint they received in that area was in November of 2016 and did a follow-up to clean the area in May of 2017.
The Austin City council has increased funding to help people who are homeless by $3.5 million in the 2019 budget. That money will go toward re-housing services, outreach services for areas outside of downtown, homeless camp cleanups and homeless prevention programs. There are also new city positions that work with the homeless population.