SXSW Hit-and-Run Drunk Driver Rashad Owens Facing Capital Murder Charge, 1 Victim ID’ed as Steven Craenmehr of Netherlands
The suspected drunk driver who killed two people at the popular South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas has been identified and will be charged with capital murder, officials said on Thursday.
Austin police identified the suspect as 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens of Kileen, Texas. The tragedy occurred around 12:30 on Thursday morning outside the Mohawk nightclub on Red River Avenue, which had been closed off to vehicular traffic due to the festival.
According to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, Owens drove down the crowded street and ran into many people, killing two and injuring another 23. The victims have been described as a man from the Netherlands who was on a bicycle and a woman from Austin who was on a moped. The Dutch man has been identified as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr.
Police say Owens was attempting to evade a drunk driving stop when he plowed through the crowded pedestrian street. He tried to flee on foot after striking numerous vehicles and coming to a stop when hitting a parked van. Officer gave chase and was shot with a Taser stun gun, bringing the pursuit to an end.
Witness Ally Hulton, 28, was visiting from Los Angeles. She was on the balcony of her friend’s Red River Street apartment when she saw Owens barreling down the street “at full speed.”
“About 10 bodies went flying,” Hulton told the Austin American-Stateseman.
Of the 23 victims hurt in the incident, two are critically injured. One is in intensive care at University Medical Center Breckenridge. The other is in the Special Procedures Lab at the same hospital. Officials called their prognosis “worrisome,” the American-Statesman reports.
Three other victims are listed in serious condition. One has a fractured spine.
Most of the victims are in their 20s.
Acevedo said Owens will face capital murder charges, meaning he could be executed if found guilty. The chief said that the suspect’s actions were intentional.
“This is an individual who showed no regard for the human beings he plowed through,” said Acevedo.
Owens, an aspiring music producer, had at least two previous DUI arrests, according to a record search conducted by Heavy.com.