AUSTIN, Texas – What started as Austin city personnel helping cut a man’s lawn quickly turned into a deadly situation after gunshots were fired, an hourslong standoff with police ensued, the house caught fire and the man was fatally shot by officers, according to Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon.
The incident began at 9:16 a.m., Wednesday, at a home in the 10600 block of Pinkney Lane in the Circle C Ranch neighborhood.
Officers were first called to the home to serve a nuisance search warrant, but they were unable to find the man, according to Chief Chacon.
The warrant was left at the door by officers as city personnel began working on trimming the man’s lawn. However, around 10:21 a.m., authorities said the man began firing gunshots at them from inside of the home.
Officers backed off and were able to take cover and get all of the city staff to safety, according to Chief Chacon.
SWAT, mental health officers and a crisis negotiator were called to assist police on scene, as the man would still not leave his home.
Out of precaution, officials closed the neighborhood to traffic, asked residents to shelter in place, and placed Kiker Elementary School on lockdown, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Officers and SWAT spent hours trying to get into contact with the man to coax him out of his home but were unsuccessful, according to Chief Chacon.
Around 3 p.m., the man reportedly began shooting at officers again at the back of the home, and police decided the next step was to deploy a robot to enter the residence from the front.
That’s how officers determined a fire had been started and was quickly spreading on the inside, according to Chief Chacon. Still, the man continued to hole up in his home, even though it became fully engulfed in flames.
Police said eventually the man came out through the garage door, but he was armed with weapons. That’s when a SWAT officer fired a gunshot at the man and struck and injured him.
Officials treated his life-threatening injuries at the scene before he was taken by EMS to an area hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.
A code inspector also suffered a minor shoulder injury during the standoff while seeking cover, according to the Statesman. However, no other injuries were reported.
The house fire was extinguished by Austin Fire Department and the flames were contained from spreading to other neighboring homes, according to Chief Chacon. The lockdown at Kiker Elementary was also lifted.
The SWAT officer who shot the man will be placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues, according to Chief Chacon.
The man’s identity has not yet been released, though reports say based on Travis County records, Robert B. Richart owns the property.
The Statesman reports that on Aug. 12, the city notified Richart that he had violated city code after not mowing his grass and that “weeds were more than a foot tall.” He was ordered to mow the lawn at the latest, by Aug. 19.
The purpose of city personnel visiting the man’s home was to make sure he was in compliance with the homeowners association, according to a report from NBC News.
“They attempted to cut the lawn for him, and this is the reaction they got,” said Austin Police spokesperson Jose Mendez in a statement.
We’ll bring more updates to this story as they become available.