Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/ KUT
Sunday, July 26, 2020 by Marisa Charpentier

Austin police release two people who fired handguns in deadly incident during protest

Both people who opened fire during an incident that led to the death of a man at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Austin on Saturday night have been released after questioning. Both shooters reported themselves to police, according to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.

One shooter is believed to be the driver of a vehicle that drove toward a crowd of protesters and shot 28-year-old Garrett Foster, who was shot multiple times and died. The other was in the crowd and shot at the car as it left the scene, Manley said during a press conference on Sunday.

Protesters were marching along Congress Avenue just before 10 p.m. when a vehicle drove toward them at the intersection of Congress and Fourth Street, according to a Facebook Live video. Protesters crowded around the car and several gunshots rang out.

Manley said according to an initial investigation of the incident, the motorist shot Foster, who was carrying a rifle “and may have pointed his weapon at the driver of this vehicle prior to being shot.” As the motorist began driving away, an individual in the crowd drew their concealed handgun and fired shots at the car.

Manley said that after the incident, APD received a call from the driver, who said they had shot someone and driven away. Police then detained the individual, who was brought back to police headquarters for interviewing. The other individual who fired a gun was also detained and interviewed.

Both have since been released, pending further investigation, Manley said. APD is working with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the incident.

Manley said APD heard from witnesses who had “several different versions of the incident.” Detectives are reviewing photos, videos and witness statements, and APD is asking people who have more information to share it with the department.

In an interview with “Good Morning America” on Sunday, Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, said her son and his fiancee had been going to the protests in Austin over racism and police brutality nearly every day for the last 50 days.

“He was doing it because he feels really strongly about justice, and he’s very heavily against police brutality, and he wanted to support his fiancee,” she said in the interview.

She added her son did have a license to carry and she wouldn’t be surprised if he was armed because “he would have felt the need to protect himself.”

A GoFundMe set up to support funeral expenses had garnered more than $108,000 donations by Sunday evening. A vigil is planned for later Sunday evening at Fourth and Congress.

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Austin Police Department: the law enforcement entity for the City of Austin.

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