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2 People Dead After Car Plows Into SXSW Crowd

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - Two people were killed and nearly two dozen more were injured -- some of them critically -- after a car speeding away from police plowed through a large crowd outside of a nightclub in Austin during the busy South By Southwest festival on Thursday morning.

It all started at around 12:30 a.m. as police officers were attempting to stop a driver at a gas station located along Interstate-35, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo explained. CBS 11 has confirmed the driver is 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens from Killeen.  Owens, suspected of being drunk, instead sped away from authorities, and wound up heading the wrong way on 9th Street in downtown Austin.


Rashad Charjuan Owens
(credit: Killeen Police)

Owens blew through police barricades and turned right onto Red River Street, striking several people who were waiting outside of the Mohawk nightclub after a South By Southwest concert. Witnesses stated that the car may have been traveling as fast as 70 mph. "I just remember seeing people bouncing off of the street," one man said.

(credit: KEYE)

The incident spanned two blocks along Red River Street -- from 9th Street to 11th Street. Along the path, the car ran over a man riding a bicycle and a woman on a moped, killing them both. The names of those victims have not yet been released, but Acevedo stated that the man was from the Netherlands.

MassiveMusic has identified the man as its creative director, 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr.  The company released a statement saying, "During the 8 years that Steven worked for MassiveMusic, we got to know him as an unstoppable force, full of life, love and laughter. This is an irreplaceable loss for the MassiveMusic family and we are grateful for the years we spent with him. Our thoughts are with Steven's family and friends."

There were an additional 23 people taken to three hospitals, including two teens from Fort Worth, Deandre Tatum, 18, and Curtisha Davis, 17.  Tatum attended Trimble Tech High School and Davis is currently a senior there.  CBS 11 has confirmed Tatum is in a medically induced coma.  His mother has traveled to Austin to be by his side.

The latest official update from medical personnel stated that two victims remain in critical condition with life threatening injuries. Another three people are in serious condition with notable injuries, and three more people are expected to survive their serious injuries. Other victims sustained only minor injuries and have already been released from the hospitals.

(credit: KTVT/KTXA)

Police did catch Owens after the vehicle ran into a taxi and came to a stop. He then attempted to flee from the scene, but officers used a Taser to bring him into custody in a nearby parking lot. Acevedo stated that Owens will now be charged with two counts of capital murder and at least 23 counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.  Owens was also treated for minor injuries sustained during the crash.  Owens criminal history includes a Criminal Trespass conviction from 2012 in Killeen.

Festival officials and the Austin Police Department said that all scheduled South By Southwest events will continue as planned unless a specific venue decides to cancel their shows or exhibits. However, police have closed a number of downtown Austin streets in order to conduct an investigation.

The crash has depleted an already low blood supply in Austin, and the Blood Center of Central Texas is encouraging blood donations, particularly O positive and negative blood, to replenish supplies.

A vigil has been scheduled at an Austin church for the crash victims.  It will begin at 5:30 p.m. at St. David's Episcopal Church, 301 E. 8th Street.  All are welcome to attend.

At least two websites have been set up to collect donations for the victims. SXSW Cares has set up a donation page through the Austin Community Foundation.  Also, a gofundme page set up by the founder of the unofficial SXSW guide aims to raise $10,000.

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