- Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/MCT/Landov
If you've been to SXSW, the stretch of Red River Street between E 9th and 10th is very familiar. Last night in Austin, a person driving under the influence crashed through police barricades set up to block the street off for pedestrians, and drove into a crowd waiting outside a club called the Mohawk, just before Tyler the Creator was scheduled to perform. Two people were killed, and 23 were injured, five of them in critical condition. The Austin-American Statesman has a diagram of the terrible incident.
The driver attempted to depart the scene, but crashed into a parked van less than a block away. He then tried to flee on foot, but was tasered and is now in police custody. Police have not released the names of the deceased—an Austin woman and a man from the Netherlands, according to AP—or the injured, but we checked in with the Mercury's correspondent Matthew Slessler, who's fine; same goes for Emily Nokes, the music editor of the Mercury's sister paper, The Stranger, and her band Tacocat, who are also totally fine (they hadn't yet reached Austin when the incident occurred). The driver faces two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault by vehicle, according to the Dallas News.
This tragedy would be brutal in any circumstance, but to take place during the South by Southwest music conference, when so many friends, bands, and associates are visiting the city, is unimaginable. According to NPR, "Roland Swenson, SXSW's managing director, told reporters that 'as much as we would just like to go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel our best use is to just continue operating today. ... We all feel some obligation to all of the people who have traveled here from all over the world.'" Meanwhile, Stereogum's SXSW day party, scheduled to take place today at the Mohawk, has understandably been canceled.