In the early morning hours on Saturday, a shooter opened fire in downtown Austin during the Republic Of Texas (ROT) Biker Rally festivities.
Local ABC station KVUE reports:
Fourteen people were hurt in a shooting on Sixth Street in Downtown Austin. Authorities have now zeroed in on two suspects in the shooting, according to KVUE and Austin American-Statesman's Tony Plohetski.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 12, shots were fired into a large crowd in the entertainment district on Sixth Street, sending several to the hospital. Interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the 911 calls started at 1:24 a.m. The shooting happened in the 400 block of East Sixth St.
Two people have critical injuries and no deaths have been reported. Originally, police reported that 13 people were hurt. At a 1 p.m. press conference, Chief Chacon said that victim count had increased to 14.
The pro-gun control Democrat Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement,
“The uptick in gun violence locally is part of a disturbing rise in gun violence across the country … One thing is clear – greater access to firearms does not equal greater public safety.”
Of course, Adler conveniently fails to mention that the Austin City Council voted in August of 2020 to defund the police, after a horrific summer of riots following the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis.
The Austin City Council unanimously voted to cut its police department budget by $150 million on Thursday, after officers and the city's top cop faced months of criticism over the killing of an unarmed Black and Hispanic man, the use of force against anti-police brutality protesters and the investigation of a demonstrator's fatal shooting by another citizen.
Those criticisms coincided with protests across Texas and the country calling for reforms on police tactics and the “defunding” of law enforcement in favor of redistributing funds to social services and alternative public safety programs. The council's move makes Austin the first of Texas' four biggest cities to drastically cut police department funding. The share of the police department budget that was cut is among the largest percentage decreases in the nation this year.
In January 2021, after 30 years in law enforcement, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley announced he would resign, under outcry and intense scrutiny over use of force in the shooting death of Michael Ramos.
Speaking of the Austin City Council, two of their members weighed in with the usual hat tips to the need for greater gun control.
Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly took time Saturday morning to thank the swift response from law enforcement.
“Let there be no question: This despicable and cowardly act of gun violence only steals our commitment to making Austin lead the nation in being the safest city in America. No community should ever experience what occurred this morning in Austin,” Kelly said in a statement.
Councilmember Ann Kitchen also said, “there's no place for guns on our streets, as we reopen our city.”
Adler and the Council fail to connect the dots that an increase in crime coincided with not only the defunding of police, but relaxing arrests and convictions of violent crimes in a number of states, including certain municipalities in Texas. Attorney and 2A advocate Colion Noir called Adler out on an Instagram post after a July 2020 shooting death at a BLM protest.
Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon took up the reigns after Chief Manley resigned, but the state of law enforcement relations in the city remains strained, and crime continues to rise.
Chacon said in April that the city had experienced a 124% increase in crimes involving firearms between 2015 and 2020.
“We try to keep it as safe as we can,” he said Saturday, “but what we have seen in recent months and over the last year or so is an increase in our gun violence. And so this is just emblematic of that, it continues, and it's something that we're really trying to work to decrease.”