(Updated) SXSW ’14: Four killed, many injured after car crashes into crowd

UPDATED: Four people died and more than 20 were injured at SXSW in Austin, Texas, after a car drove through a barricade and down a pedestrian-only street, plowing into dozens of people.
March 13, 2014

March 27 update: The March 13 incident has claimed another victim. Austin police said today that 18-year-old DeAndre ‘Dre’ Tatum has died as a result of his injuries.

March 18 update: Another person has died from injuries resulting from the March 13 incident, bringing the SXSW death toll to three. An Austin police spokesperson named the latest victim as 26-year-old Sandy Thuy Le, from Pass Christian in Mississippi.

March 14 update: Austin police have named 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens, from Killeen, Texas, as the suspected driver of the vehicle that left two dead at SXSW. He was yesterday charged with two counts of capital murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.

The fatalities have been named as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr, creative director at music agency MassiveMusic; and 27-year-old local Austin woman Jamie Ranae West.

In addition, Austin police chief Art Acevedo has corrected his earlier statement that both victims had been on a moped. Craenmehr was on a bicycle when he was struck and killed, while West was riding a moped with her husband Evan West, who sustained injuries in the incident.

March 13 original story: Two people have died and 23 have been injured at SXSW in Austin, Texas, after a car drove through a barricade and down a pedestrian-only street, plowing into dozens of people.

Austin police chief Art Acevedo told reporters in Austin that officers had attempted to pull the as-yet-unnamed suspect over at about 12:30 a.m. CST this morning (March 13) on suspicion of drunk-driving. But the driver attempted to evade police, first speeding the wrong way down the one-way-only 9th Street, before crashing through a barricade and continuing down Red River Street.

The driver struck multiple civilians on both streets and, when he reached 11th Street, he struck a man and a woman on a moped, before crashing into a parked van. After trying to flee on foot, he was tased by police and arrested.

Officials said that the two civilians on the moped were killed, and that five of the 23 people injured are still in critical condition. The names of the deceased have not yet been released.

Acevedo told reporters that the suspect would face charges for two counts of capital murder, along with 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

In a statement issued to realscreen, a SXSW spokesperson said that the thoughts and prayers of festival staff were with those affected by the incident. “We appreciate and commend the first responders as well as the city agencies who so quickly sprung into action,” she added.

“We will be making schedule and venue changes for programming in the surrounding area of last night’s events. All other programming will continue as previously scheduled. Please watch this website and for updates throughout the day.”

SXSW Film, which kicked off on March 7, is due to wrap on Saturday (March 15).

UPDATE 2 p.m. EST: In a newly issued statement, SXSW co-founder and MD Rowland Swenson said: “The SXSW staff is stunned and deeply moved by the events of last night. Dozens of us were on the scene when the incident occurred and we worked closely with [the Austin Police Department] to create a perimeter around the area, turning back all the visitors spilling out of the clubs who headed north on Red River Street.

“To avoid confusion we plan to carry on with our scheduled daytime events at the Austin Convention Center in order to serve our tens of thousands of participants during this tragic time. All of the SXSW staff and volunteers reported for their regular duties this morning and will continue working today on the event.

“We are contacting all of the venues to find out if they have made any decisions about their operations that might impact our visitors. Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels. As much as we would like to just go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel our best use is to continue to operate today.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and with the families of the fatalities.”

  • Watch the Austin Statesmen‘s video of Chief Acevedo’s press briefing below:

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