SXSW Hit-And-Run

Horrible news from Austin: Tonight, outside the local venue the Mohawk, a drunk driver fleeing from police plowed into an area that had been blocked off for SXSW, killing at least two people. Several reports state that the driver sped into the blocked-off intersection outside the club at 9th and Red River, hitting a terrifying number of pedestrians, many who were in line to see Tyler, The Creator headline the House Of Vans showcase. As I write this, besides the two dead, 23 people are reported injured, including five in critical condition. The driver is in police custody.

Here’s more from AP:

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says 23 others were injured, five of them critically, in the incident around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. He says the two people who died were on a mo-ped that the motorist hit along with pedestrians who were leaving a club where a concert had been held.

The chief says the man also struck a cab before jumping out of his car and trying to run. Officers shocked him with a stun gun and took him into custody.

If you’re at SXSW, it might be a good idea to get on Twitter or Facebook and let everyone know you’re OK.

UPDATE 3/13 12PM CST: Austin police say the suspect, a black adult male, will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault. The deceased are a local Austin woman who was riding a moped and a man from the Netherlands who was on a bicycle. Of eight others who remain hospitalized, two are in critical condition. SXSW has released this statement:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic accident that took place last night here in Austin. We appreciate and commend the first responders, as well as the city agencies who so quickly sprung into action. 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.

Stereogum’s event at the Mohawk on Thursday has been canceled.

UPDATE 3/13 6PM CST: Police have arrested 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens, who will be charged with capital murder and aggravated assault with a vehicle.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo characterized Owen’s actions as intentional: “This is an individual who showed no regard for the human beings he plowed through.”

A list of the 23 injured has been released and the two dead have been identified as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr, creative director of Massive Music, and 27-year-old Jamie West, a resident of Austin.

SXSW has announced that Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie’s reopen for business at 7PM tonight, and a SXSW Cares fund will help people affected by yesterday’s tragedy.

A special edition report from KVUE can be viewed below.

[Photo via @ColinKerrigan.]

Comments (50)
  1. That’s an absolute shame. My thoughts are with everybody involved.

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    • Did you read the tweet? It wasn’t to share about the killer tacos at the food truck village it was for possible leads and to help with any information. A useful hashtag, for once.

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        • Oh shut up.

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        • Maybe #SXSWhitandrun would have been better and easier to filter through useful information? Or would that be too clumsy… I’m not that Twitter savvy.

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          • Oh cool, another Stereogum hostile gang mentality downvote session… Should I just proactively ban myself or should we all just sit back and watch the downward spiral?

          • I vote the third option… just let it go.

          • Strange to see you downvoted on this. You are not saying anything that doesn’t imply this isn’t anything less than a horrible tragedy. a different hash tag would absolutely help. Go to twitter and click #sxsw and you wont see anything about the accident. it just gets lost in the melee of event specific tweets.

        • way to make all of this about you again, bud.

    • In a public forum you have to understand that what makes no sense to you is not necessarily true of the public at large.

      If you are going to comment than make a definitive statement of truth. By saying “something unsettling” it leaves it open to interpretation. I looked at it as maybe you were making a comment on tweeting becoming a mainstream way of communication more effective than tv, and that it was sad. But, that is not what you meant. You meant that they were not effectively tweeting, right?

      I am saying that their attempt is admirable to use non-traditional methods of communication for more information. The way your comment leaves it openended like that though without specifically stating purpose makes it polarizing and frustrating.

      Inevitably continuing down the rabbithole of comments and increased frustration on your end that people don’t get it. A simple question to yourself of “how will this be interpreted” will save you a lot of trouble. Nobody is against you, but once you make it about the world being against you by claiming “downvote” prejudice it just makes it all the more ridiculous.

      • Yes, my point was that the tweet was not as effective as it could have been. Maybe I take it for granted that not as many people here read Twitter on a fairly often basis throughout the day just as I do.

        • I’m sorry, but I don’t think you understand how Twitter works. Just because some douchebags use hashtags as a “cool” (read: annoying) way of saying something, the true concept is that of a filter that enables more effective searching and categorizing. The PD was totally right to include the relevant tag in their tweet.

          The hit-and-run is 100% connected to SXSW. The shows are cancelled, people are injured and they are looking for additional information about the incident. They are intentionally trying to reach people attending the festival – and more specifically – people who witnessed the crime.

          If you’re implying that including the tag sucks because people have to hear bad news when they are looking for news on the next secret show or pop-up Booze-Popsicle stand, well, I can’t really go there…

          • Okay, you’re all still just getting a little too over sensitive / misinterpretive / over-defensive about my initial comment. I’m not saying the use of the #SXSW hashtag was not just in its purpose, but after having seen my tweet feed piled up nose high with that hashtag used for festive, fun, humblebragging mundane reasons over the past several days, it was UNSETTLING to wake up and see the use of the #SXSW in relation to anything but that. It was a reaction of, “Whoa, there’s a pretty heavy way to use the #SXSW…” It was definitely relevant, but altogether changed the tone of its usage considerably.

            And then from there, the conversation evolved into alternative hashtag ideas (like that even matters at this point) and why I’m never going to get into the good graces of anyone around here ever again anymore.

    • I happen to agree that the #SXSW at the end of a tweet reporting tragedy is somehow… tonally strange.

  3. So fucked up. Killed leaving a concert…

    I’d wager SXSW looks a little different next year. Austin has been incredibly accommodating, many locals would say indulgent, of SXSW as it has grown larger and larger over the years, but with that volume of people it’s just not possible to ensure everyone’s safety.

    • There was already a report back in late January / February that the festival was at capacity, which was apparently earlier than usual. Pitchfork’s Lindsay Zoladz Day 1 write-up’s impression which included even her and her Pitchfork cred getting turned away from showcases she thought she was showing up in line for way too early seemed to suggest the festival had turned a new corner in over-saturation and exclusivity (although it’s her first time attending.) The city of Austin needs to reign things in, and I’m hoping that the money there’s to be made off the thing will not continue to compromise safety.

      • Ok I”m sorry but she’s an idiot or never talked to folks who cover SXSW before.

        Covering SXSW as press, it’s NOT like a normal show at a regular venue, and no one gives a fuck if you’re with Pitchfork or the NY Times. I’m a photographer who has covered SXSW Music for the last bunch of years. You get on VIP lists for faster entry if possible, but even then you get there early, esp for bigger acts. Even on the VIP lists if a venue is at capacity, it’s at capacity (which is how I got shut out of seeing Iggy at the Mohwak last year).

        “while they continued to let in people who flashed their exorbitantly expensive “SXXpress Passes”.

        SIgh…You don’t PAY for the SXXpress Passes…If you have a badge, you can get them for free at the Convention Center. I have a hard time believe Pitchfork didn’t get badges, but maybe they just didn’t get one for her. But even with those, if they run out of the passes, they run out, so? You plan and get up to get one early. But that’s the whole point of those passes, you did a little extra leg work, got a pass=entry before others. The same with how badges get in before wristbands. And, to her point about how Tech people got in before Music? Yeah, b/c Tues is the last day of Interactive. Technically Music doesn’t start until Wed. So, they’re going to honor the Interactive people first usually.

        What a fucking moron…Do some research Lindsay, that’s what writers are supposed to do. Get there early, plan ahead, and be nice to people…You do that at SXSW and you’ll have a much better time. And don’t assume just b/c you’re with Pitchfork, anyone gives a shit for fuck’s sake.

        • Oh and PS: For really popular acts, ESPECIALLY for a place as tiny as Red 7, you get there at least 2 acts prior and camp out. That is why she didn’t get in, people were camping out there for Chance possibly all night.

        • Fucking moron? That’s unnecessarily hostile. She’s a talented writer and by no means a moron. Now if you want to talk about how people who came up doing online music writing / free-lancing sometimes turn out to be pretty daft when it comes to doing this analog, observation-based thing called journalism, I might co-sign. But you’re not impressing anyone with that kind of shit talk.

          • I didn’t want to fan the flames of Erica’s aggressiveness, but Lindsay Zoladz is 1) one of the more fair and thoughtful professional journalists out there and 2) re-reading her Day 1 recap did address how she spent hours in lines waiting to get into shows (a 5:1 ratio between standing in line vs. seeing a band live was her estimate) as well as speaking with other people (a volunteer who’d worked 60 hrs so far and had yet to see any shows due to having a difficult time getting into anything, calling this year “the worst ever”) that backed up her claims to it being “elitist.” I thought that was a troubling sign and commentary coming from one of Pitchfork’s top caliber writers and I believe her, because it’s laughable to think a pro like Lindsay — even if she’d never attended before — would show up at SXSW just expecting to waltz right into whatever shows she wanted to.

  4. This is just absolutely awful.

    Typically in the US as long as you kill someone with a car and you aren’t drunk, then you’re not a criminal. Here’s to hoping that this individual is held accountable.

  5. Wow that’s terrible. Dude sounds like a legitimately terrible person with no regards for anyone but himself. Hopefully he spends the rest of his life in prison.

  6. So glad this guy is facing capital murder charges. I dont think there is a worse crime than drunk driving. So fucking selfish and irresponsible. Sad to see SXSW has gotten so big that this is now the crowd it pulls in. People were just trying to enjoy some music…

    • Oh, there are worse crimes than drunk driving.

      Seeing as how he was “fleeing” from the police, I’d imagine he was on probation for something else. That or he had illegal drugs in his car. Or he was just drunk and stupid (not uncommon in Texas).

      I’m not going to defend drunk driving, but millions of Americans every year drive to bars, drink, drive home and sleep. Again, I’m not defending it, but I can’t agree that drunk driving is the worst crime.

      Killing people is the worst crime, which is what we have here. It is awful. Compounded is the fact the victims were innocent. Let’s not forget about the injured, as some or all of them will be recovering from this for the rest of their life.

      However, this is still Texas. The guy may get the death penalty.

    • to be fair, this guy wasn’t at the festival. if my directions are right, he was headed south on 35 frontage when he hit the police trying to maintain traffic. that’s when he got spooked and headed the wrong way down 9th street and rammed into all the people standing in line at the mohawk.

    • I can name 10 crimes worse that drunk driving.

      Full disclaimer – like Raptor Jesus, in no way am I defending drunk driving.

  7. This is really sad news. Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.

    Also, I’ve been away for a while. Can someone update me on why michael_ is back?

    • I’ve seen this question around posts often, and for transparencies sake, I will do my best to fill in the answers by simply copying and pasting the e-mail I believe got me unbanned (which I didn’t necessarily request.)

      “I want to apologize for this past week. I’m not sure what extent of headaches it caused you or ask, but for that, I am sorry. I am going to delete my angry tweets directed at you (and whatever else damage I’ve caused social media-wise.) The heat of frustration causes some stupid reactions. I can tweet out an apology to you if you’d like, but I don’t get the impression that context comes through efficiently in 140 characters or less.

      I also want you to know that I am not a “troll” (or “psychotic” as someone on the comments suggested.) I am just a downer and have reasons beyond which I’ve addressed publicly on Stereogum as to why I am the way I am. Several years back, (***INSERT PRIVATE INFORMATION I WILL NEVER DIVULGE TO ANYONE HERE PUBLICLY HERE***) I probably suffer from some form of PTSD from it all. I’m very paranoid about who is and who is a “good” person when communicating through the Internet. And worse of all, is that it’s made me become like those people because I don’t know how else it is you defend yourself from the dark side of Internet world.

      Again, sorry. I’ve found no pleasure in this.

      Take care.”


      “I appreciate you deleting the tweets.
      I am going to unban your IP addresses, but please follow the community guidelines going forward, ok?”

      Next thing I knew, Scott had let it be known I was unbanned in that week’s edition of the Best and Worst comments, which is a testament to how chill / empathetic they are around here.

  8. My condolenses to the friends and families of the the two whom lost their lives *smh* Truly sad :-/

  9. I immediately texted my friend who’s down there after reading this. He works for a rap/hip-hop based blog and my heart sank to my stomach when I read the news that this happened outside of a Tyler show, as I knew he could of very well been there. Luckily, he’s ok, thank god.

    This is such horrific news. I hope proper justice is served to this guy, as what he did is downright disgusting… drunk or not. Hope all those who are injured a very speedy recovery.

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    • he’s charged with two cases of capitol murder. you don’t fuck around in texas.

    • There was an old Ron White bit about Texas trying to pass a law that if at least three credible eyewitnesses saw the crime committed, they’d be put to the front of the death row line. The “Express Lane” as he called it.

      Dunno if that was ever passed but this following quote from the same show still rings true in The Lone Star State: “If you come to Texas and kill someone, we will kill you back. That’s our policy.”

    • wonderful? no. Just? possibly.

      • I just hope the victims and their families get justice. ‘Wonderful’ was probably a poor choice of words in hindsight. Apologies.

        • As someone who grew up in Texas I can say there is nothing surprising and certainly nothing “wonderful” about the fact that the state of Texas is willing to execute a black man. Do you think white frat boys from UT or A&M look at a death penalty when they do the same shit? Texas’ “justice system” is immeasurably fucked, particularly when it comes to death penalty cases & particularly when it comes to death penalty cases where the defendant is black. So I find it incredibly fucking stupid that you guys would bro out about this shit. It’s not a joke.

          • Like I can think of a case int he past year where a white guy who, granted, was a teenager, killed *four* people driving drunk and he only got fucking probation.

          • I understand that you are upset however, assuming that I’m trying to ‘bro’ out the slaughter of two innocent people is ridiculous. I have already apologized for my poor phrasing and as someone who lives in an extremely multi-cultural area the assumption that I support any form of racism (institutional or otherwise) is unfair and quite frankly wrong. I also have to hold my hands up and state that as someone who isn’t American and doesn’t know much about the American ‘justice’ system, I’m not really one to comment on the claims you’ve made in your comment. I for one support capital punishment in many murder cases, I haven’t decided exactly where I stand on this particular case (we obviously don’t know all the circumstances surrounding this case at the moment) so I may eat my words. And I obviously don’t think this is in any way a ‘joke’, nor do I find anything funny about this incident.

    • Sorry, after re-reading my comment I now realize how distasteful this is.

  11. That’s very terrible. I can only be grateful that more people weren’t killed, but very sad tragedy for the dead and the wounded.

  12. Can’t we just focus on sending our love out to these families? Instead, everyone is just arguing about hashtags. It’s sad to me.

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