AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man is dead and “multiple” suspects are on the loose after a deadly shooting in a Walmart parking lot, according to Austin police.
The deadly shooting took place the night before Thanksgiving as the Walmart was just closing. The store is located in north Austin at Norwood Park Boulevard, near U.S. 183 and I-35.
“I’m sad,” said Steven Buchynsky, who lives nearby and stopped by the closed store on Thanksgiving. “It doesn’t surprise me at all though.”
A bystander called 911 to report that a man had been shot in the parking lot, police said. When officers arrived they found the victim with several gunshot wounds. The victim was identified as 28-year-old Jose Juan Vasquez.
Police tried to save Vasquez while they waited for medics to arrive. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“The shooting did happen in the parking lot of the Walmart and did not happen inside,” Austin Police officer Juan Asencio said. “As of right now, we don’t have great descriptions. We do know there are multiple suspects.”
“Multiple?,” asked Bychnysky, when told by KXAN what police said. “Damn.”
The Walmart closed early at 10:30 p.m. for the holiday, according to a sign posted on the door. Overnight, homicide detectives spent time talking to witnesses and looking over the store’s parking lot surveillance video.
“As of right now, the investigation is still growing,” said Asencio. “They’re still looking through all of the camera footage and speaking to all of the witnesses.”
This marks Austin’s 84th homicide this year, according to APD, which is a record high for the city. The numbers have steadily climbed in recent years but there has been a substantial increase in 2021 compared to last year.
“Obviously, the community has a right to be concerned,” Greater Austin Crime Commission Executive Director Cary Roberts told KXAN back in September, when the city broke its record.
When it comes to the murder rate, Austin is on par with other cities, Roberts said.
“We are seeing this as a national trend,” he added, “around violent crime.”
Back at the Walmart, crime scene tape was still on the ground Thursday. Would-be shoppers came by to find the store closed for the holiday. Many were stunned to learn about another tragedy.
“It’s crazy,” said Buchynsky. “In my opinion, I think people really need to calm down. Care more for one another.”
Austin police urges anyone with information to call its homicide tip-line at (512) 477-3588.