Austin police confirm name of deadly SXSW crash suspect

Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, will be charged with 2 counts of capital murder, 23 counts of aggravated assault


Austin police say they have released the name of the man they say drove through a pedestrian area at the South by Southwest festival and killed two people.

Police said in a statement Thursday afternoon that they intend to charge Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault.

Click here to see a picture of the suspect.

The statement said formal charges were still pending.

Officers said Owens fled when they tried to stop him for drunken driving. He then allegedly burst through a barricade, hit numerous bystanders and killed a man riding a bicycle and a woman who was on a moped.

Acevedo said the victims were a woman from Austin and a man from the Netherlands. A Dutch music agency has identified the male victim as an employee: Steven Craenmehr, 35.

A medical examiner released the identity of the woman who was killed as Austin resident, 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West. Evan West, the victims' husband was among the 23 injured in the crash.

Dr. Christopher Ziebell, medical director of University Medical Center Brackenridge said most of the injured are in their late teens or 20s.

He applauded Travis County paramedics, who recently did some training for a similar scenario.

"EMTs had trained for mass-casualty incident just a week ago," said Dr. Christopher Ziebell, medical director, University Medical Center-Brackenridge. "(It was the) exact same scenario: car into crowd."

According to the statement issued by police, 23 people were transported to area hospitals.

As of Thursday evening, two patients were still in critical condition, three patients were in serious condition, three were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries and 15 were treated and released.

Owens was also taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with minor injuries but soon released into police custody.

Acevedo said it was an "intentional act," and that formal charges will be filed Thursday afternoon.

Accident shocks festivalgoers

The accident stunned revelers at the annual music, film and interactive conference that draws tens of thousands to Austin each year. Many were getting real-time reports from social media.

The street was full of concert-goers just minutes earlier, but officials had cleared the area because it is a fire lane.

"We had a large crowd," Acevedo said at a 2:30 a.m. news conference. "I just thank God that a lot of the folks had already been pushed on the sidewalk or this could have been a lot worse."

Acevedo asked that those who may have taken video to contact police rather than post it to the Internet. All the injured were taken to area hospitals.

Police said the man pulled into a nearby gas station in a silver Toyota sedan after an officer working a drunken-driving patrol tried to stop him. He wove his way through a series of parked cars, then took off at high speed the wrong way down a one-way street. He took a right turn on Red River Street, crashing through a barricade and narrowly missing a police officer who was standing guard.

Officials at Fort Hood have confirmed that the car was stolen from a Fort Hood soldier. That soldier is with Killeen police giving his statement.

The suspect hit some of the victims in front of The Mohawk, a local club hosting Spin events during the five-day music conference. He continued down the street where he struck and killed two people and then hit the cab before finally crashing.

Officers had closed off a two-block section of downtown Austin and continued to investigate into the morning. Acevedo said there were no plans to change safety protocols at the festival due to the accident.

"We do these events very well, but you cannot stop a person who rather than face drunk driving charges decides to speed at a high rate of speed, go around a uniformed officer forcing him to run out of the way, then at a high rate of speed show total disregard for the sanctity of human life," Acevedo said.

St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin is hosting a 5:30 p.m. prayer service for SXSW crash victims on Thursday in their Labyrinth, 301 E. 8th St. All invited.

Click here to see a map of the crash scene.


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