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Report: SXSW car rampage suspect faces 20 new charges

Rashas Owens, 21, suspected of ramming his car into a crowd of people at Austin's SXSW music festival, is reportedly facing new charges of aggravated assault, along with an existing capital murder charge CBS affiliate KEYE

The man suspected of ramming a car into a crowd of people at Austin's South by Southwest music festival last month is facing 20 new charges in connection with the rampage, reports CBS affiliate KEYE.

Rashad Owens, 21, is accused of running over nearly two dozen people at the popular event March 13, killing four and injuring 20.

He already faces a charge of capital murder. Officials said he was driving drunk and fleeing police.

He now faces 20 new counts of aggravated assault, reports the Austin Statesman.

Owens has a court date April 9 in connection with the capital murder charge, reports the station. If convicted, he reportedly could face the death penalty.

Two victims died at the scene and two others, Sandy Le, 26, and Deandre Tatum, 18, died at the hospital.

An arrest affidavit revealed that Owens said he was running from police because he had warrants for his arrest for kidnapping, reports the station. KEYE reports that the car Owens is suspected of driving at the time of the rampage was stolen from a soldier at nearby Fort Hood.

According to a police report, a breath test given after the crash showed Owens had a blood alcohol content of .114, over the .08 legal limit for intoxication, reports the station.

According to an arrest warrant, Owens did not use his brakes and even accelerated as he approached crowds.

Owens told police that he "got scared" when he saw police lights behind him around 12:30 a.m. Thursday March 13 because outstanding warrants meant he could go to prison for five years. The warrant says Owens said he's facing kidnapping warrants issued as part of a custody battle over his daughter.

The officer who tried to pull over Owens was looking for suspected drunken drivers when he spotted a 2012 gray Honda Civic that didn't have its headlights turned on, the arrest warrant says. Owens then made a turn from a middle lane and "would have caused a crash" with the police cruiser had the officer not turned to avoid it, according to the warrant.

Investigators say Owens then cut through a gas station and sped the wrong way down a one-way street before crashing through police barriers blocking a street closed for South By Southwest festivities -- forcing another police officer manning the roadblock on foot to dive out of the way.

Police say Owens then plowed into a crowd of concertgoers, hitting and killing a man from the Netherlands on a bicycle and an Austin woman on a moped. Investigators say he eventually crashed into a taxi and parked van and tried to run before police subdued him with a stun gun.

The warrant says a video from the police unit giving chase "shows the Honda accelerating into crowds, not simply crowded areas but crowds of people who are hit by the car and flung into the air." It adds that Owens drove "for almost three city blocks, accelerating into crowds and does not use his brakes, as in the video there are no brake lights visible from the rear of the Honda."

  • Crimesider Staff

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