An alleged drunk driver plowed through barricades that were erected to close off an area for music fans at Austin's annual SXSW music festival, killing two people and sending 21 to hospitals, police told LA Weekly.
A source at the scene told us that at least some of the fans in the area had lined up to see a performance by rapper Tyler the Creator of L.A.-based hip-hop crew Odd Future.
The collision happened …
… at 12:32 a.m. [Thursday] Austin time at Red River Street and East 10th Street, an Austin police official said.
The driver headed south into a closed, one-block area and plowed into crowd on the street, he said:
Basically what happened – it was still under DWI investigation – a driver ran through some temporary barricades we had set up for South by Southwest and, after running through the barricades, he continued to drive, hitting multiple pedestrians.
Two victims were dead at the scene, he said.
)Officers assigned to patrol the area to protect SXSW crowds were right on the scene and quickly arrested a suspect, the officer said. “I believe they had to struggle with him,” he said.
Rumors that the driver was being pursued by cops before he plowed into the crowd were false, the official told us.
He said people go to that block to attend SXSW music events at “several venues” there.
Our source at the scene says Tyler the Creator of Odd Future was about to hit the stage at the nearby House of Vans when the accident happened.
He told us that officials there are now saying 23 people were injured, with five in critical condition.
[Added at 12:44 a.m. PST]: Tyler the Creator was indeed scheduled to perform outdoors adjacent to a venue called The Mohawk, according to the House of Vans SXSW website.
See also: Tyler, the Creator: Horsing Around
The Mohawk is right at 10th and Red River.
[Added at 1:16 p.m. PST]: Tyler the Creator tweeted this after the tragedy:
[Added at 1:28 a.m. PST]: A witness in the above video said people around him were waiting in line for The Mohawk when he sensed a “sudden burst of wind” and then felt someone collide with him from behind.
He said a gray vehicle, possibly a Subaru, plowed through: “I just remember seeing people bouncing off the street,” he said.
The witness said police, including a helicopter, were hot on the suspect's tail.
A woman in the video said the car was going fast, perhaps 70 miles per hour, when it hit people in the crowd.
[Added at 1:44 a.m. PST]: Austin police chief Art Acevedo told reporters at the scene that the driver was allegedly trying to evade a cop on DUI patrol duty who had attempted to pull him over.
While not calling it a pursuit, the chief said that the gray Toyota sped off and went through the SXSW barricade. A cop at the blockade had to jump out of the way, he said.
The car barreled into victims for two blocks and eventually hit a moped that had a man and woman on it, the chief said. Those two are the ones who died at the scene, he said. The vehicle also struck a taxi and a van, according to the top cop.
The officer who had tried to pull the driver over was behind him and had to use a taser to subdue the suspect, the chief said. The suspect was in custody.