AUSTIN (KXAN) — A San Antonio man who died after being punched on Austin’s Sixth Street over the weekend was in the Air Force.
In a news conference Tuesday, Austin police say Marques Johnson, 33, was in town with his wife and friends celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday. Johnson’s group had just left Barcelona, located at 209 E. Sixth St., around 2 a.m. on Sunday, when an altercation occurred between Johnson and two other men.
Witnesses told police the men followed Johnson and his wife when they walked away, and the Caucasian suspect threw something at Johnson. Police say when Johnson turned around, an African-American man punched him.
“We actually see our victim lying basically in the middle of Sixth Street, a crowd coming around him, and then the officers showing up on the scene,” says Sgt. Tracy Gerrish with the Homicide Unit. Johnson was rushed to the hospital where he died the following day.
Friends of Johnson’s describe him as a humble man who loved his family and was always smiling. They say he was never aggressive.
“Marques doesn’t go out of his way, even if he was drinking he’s not one of those to act out in such a brash way,” says Johnson’s co-worker at Convergint Technologies Adekunle Lufadeju. “It’s just very tough. He served his country and the way his life came to an end — because someone was being completely moronic is very heart breaking.”
Other co-workers say they are already feeling his absence in the office. “It’s just starting to sink in and I thin tomorrow is going to be a little bit harder,” says David Yelverton.
Family friends have started fundraising for the wife and step son he leaves behind. Co-workers say they are now hoping the person responsible comes forward.
“There’s a family that’s broken, someone that doesn’t have a daddy, someone that doesn’t have a husband anymore because just one more fight? Really? No, this is a broken family,” says co-worker Osiel Martinez.
Sgt. Gerrish says the city-owned cameras picked up some video of the incident, but video of the suspect hitting Johnson was not captured.
“We do have HALO video from the police department that captures some of the incident on video,” Gerrish says. “People running away from the scene and people standing there shooting video of the incident.”
Investigators say while they’re checking surveillance video from all the bars and restaurants in the area, they know bystanders also filmed the incident and they’re asking for those individuals to get in contact with police.
“We have had some people call in saying they did videotape the incident, so we’re hoping that more people will come forward that have better video,” Gerrish says.
Authorities say the man who punched Johnson is in his mid-20s and between 5-foot-10 and 6 feet tall. He has short, curly black hair, blue or light-colored eyes and a goatee. Officials are asking anyone with information to call the Homicide Tip Line at 512-477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.
The attack comes as APD numbers show aggravated assaults are up downtown. There were 107 of the violent crimes in the downtown sector from January-August last year. Through August this year, the number is up for 131 — a 22 percent spike year-to-year.
The city as a whole, meanwhile, is seeing a much more modest increase. Through August 2016 police recorded 1,628 aggravated assaults citywide, about 6.4 percent less than through the same month this year, during which time APD recorded 1,732 attacks.