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Two Killed, 23 Injured After Car Crashes Into SXSW Crowd

An allegedly drunk driver attempting to elude police barreled into a crowd of people waiting in line for a SXSW event early Thursday morning (March 13) in Austin, Texas. Early reports indicate two people were killed and 23 were injured, some critically.

New information reveals the car was recently reported stolen in Killeen, Texas, north of the capital city. The driver was 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens, according to several sources, though police have not officially released the suspect’s name.

The annual music and arts industry festival draws tens of thousands of people to more than 100 stages across Austin every year. The incident happened near W. 10th and Red River St. downtown. KXAN-TV in Austin reports that the man was driving the wrong way on 9th St. when he plowed into a crowd of people. A police officer was almost hit before the car struck a taxi, then two people on a moped.

The woman on the moped died, while the man driving it did not, despite previous reports. KVUE says that man is in stable condition. The other person killed was MassiveMusic employee Steven Craenmehr. The 35-year-old from the Netherlands was on a bicycle when he was struck.

Police say the suspect — who is now in police custody — fled after being stopped on suspicion of DWI at a nearby gas station. A chase ensued, with the car finally stopping after hitting a van. The man began to flee on foot, but police used a taser to subdue and arrest him.

Most of the crowd was in line waiting to see Tyler the Creator at the Mohawk on Red River. Witness tell the Austin Amiercan-Statesman the man drove a Toyota full speed into the crowd. Five of the injured are said to be in critical condition at the University Medical Center Brackenridge. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says the suspect will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault.

Country performers at this year’s SXSW include duo Dan + Shay. Keith Urban and Willie Nelson will also be participating in the iTunes Music Festival, which is part of SXSW.

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