One person is dead after a suspect opened fire during protests in downtown Austin on Saturday night, police said. Police identified the victim as 27-year-old Garrett Foster.
In video posted to Facebook Live, protesters were marching toward the the Texas State Capitol as they chanted “fists up, fight back” when a car honked at the crowd and someone yelled “everybody back up!” Shots then rang out from a vehicle.
Officers located Foster with a gunshot wound, and Austin EMS medics began administering CPR, CBS Austin reported. At 10:18 p.m., Austin EMS announced that he was being transported to a local hospital with critical, life-threatening injuries. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
Police said in a press conference Sunday that they had received a 911 call after the shooting from someone claiming they had shot someone at the protest who had approached their vehicle and pointed a rifle at them. Police brought this person and another individual who claimed they fired back at the vehicle as it drove away in for questioning. Police confiscated both of their handguns, but both individuals have since been released. Both had concealed handgun licenses.
In an earlier press conference at the scene, police said the victim may have been carrying a rifle and approached the suspect’s vehicle. In Texas, it is legal to carry a weapon in public without a permit as long as it is not done in a “manner calculated to alarm.”
Independent journalist Hiram Gilberto Garcia said he interviewed Foster in a video on Periscope prior to the shooting. During the interview, Foster said he was carrying an AK-47.
They don’t let us march in the streets anymore, so I’ve got to practice some of my rights,” he said. He said he didn’t think he would use it, because “if I use it against the cops, I’m dead.” He said he didn’t think the people who “hate us” would shoot at them.
His mother told the Dallas News that her son had been bringing a gun to the protests, which he had been attending with his fiancee, who is a quadruple amputee. In the Periscope video, the fiancee said they had been protesting “for a month and a half.”
“He was going to these protests because he was fighting against police brutality,” Sheila Foster said. “He was pushing her wheelchair across the intersection when this happened. Thank God she didn’t get hit.”
Protests have been taking place in Austin since the death of George Floyd.