AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A protester allegedly armed with a rifle at a demonstration against police violence in the Texas capital was shot and killed by a driver after a witness says he confronted a vehicle that attempted to drive through a crowd blocking a downtown Austin intersection.
The shooting happened just before 10 p.m. Saturday as demonstrators were marching through the downtown Austin, police spokesperson Katrina Ratliff told reporters early Sunday. The man who was shot was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The vehicle involved in the fatal altercation honked, turned onto a street and sped through the protesters before he apparently hit an orange barrier and stopped, witness Michael Capochiano, who took part in the demonstration, told the Austin American-Statesman. A protester with a rifle approached the vehicle and was shot by the driver, who then drove off, he said.
Ratliff confirmed that initial reports indicated “the victim may have been carrying a rifle.” She said the driver was detained and was cooperating with police. She didn’t release the names of the driver or the man who was killed. There was no answer at a number for an Austin police spokesperson late Sunday morning.
In video that was streamed live on Facebook, a car can be heard honking before several shots ring out – five shots, followed by three – and protesters start screaming and scattering. Police can then be seen tending to someone lying in the street.
— Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) July 26, 2020
“One adult male victim was located with a gunshot wound,” the press officer said, before confirming he passed away at the hospital shortly after. “Initial reports indicate that the victim may have been carrying a rifle and approached the suspect vehicle. Suspect was in the vehicle and shot at the victim. Suspect was detained and is cooperating with officers.”
Late Sunday, Austin Chief of Police Brian Manley reviewed the series of events that lead to the exchange of gunfire. Witness say the disturbance began as the driver honked the horn of his vehicle as he turned southbound on to Congress from Fourth Street.
“The vehicle stopped as there was a large group of people in the roadway,” Manley said. “The decedent, Garrett Foster, approached the vehicle armed with an AK-47 type of rifle” as others nearby began to strike the driver’s vehicle.
“Gunshots were fired from inside the vehicle at Mr. Foster,” the Austin Chief of Police said.
“During the initial phase if this investigation, it appears Mr. Foster may have pointed his weapon at the driver of this vehicle prior to being shot,” Manley added. “After the first volley of gunfire, another individual reported hearing the gunshots and observed the vehicle driving away from the crowd. This individual drew their concealed handgun and fired multiple shots at the vehicle as it drove away.”
That person was also brought to the Austin Police Homicide Department to be interviewed.
Mr. Foster’s rifle, the driver’s handgun, and the third subject’s firearm were all secured by police as evidence.
Chief Manley said:
Homicide detectives and crime scene specialists arrived to begin to process the scene. Detectives are reviewing available video and photos, and witness statements to determine the precise actions of those involved. Our investigators consulted through the night with the Travis County District Attorney’s office on this, and will continue to co-ordinate this investigation with them.
Both individuals have been released pending further investigation.
Watch the full press briefing:
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sheila Foster identified the man who was shot as her son, Garrett Foster. She said he had been a regular at the protests with his fiancée.
“They’ve been participating in these protests almost every day for the past 50 days,” she said.
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The Minnesota Sun’s Christina Botteri contributed to this Associated Press report.
About the Headline Photo: Austin police investigate a homicide shooting which occurred at a demonstration against police violence in downtown Austin, Saturday, July 25, 2020. (Stephen Spillman/Austin American-Statesman via AP)