AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - In a press conference Monday, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley spoke about APD’s efforts to make the entertainment district safe following recent violence in the area.
“I think it's important to note, the downtown area does have the highest concentration of police officers based on the size of the area,” Manley said. “That is our entertainment district and we are focused on making sure it's safe.”
Manley also spoke about big changes within the department, including additional officers to patrol downtown.
“Our immediate response to this uptick to this violence we are seeing is all downtown patrol shifts will go to mandatory 100 percent staffing, plus additional officers will be added to each shift,” Manley said. “This will carry on for weeks to follow until we feel we've addressed the issue, and when we’ve identified alternative ways to maintain the safety in these areas. Officers from street narcotics and gang units will be added to these areas as well.”
Manley says these new changes will begin this weekend, and in the near future they're looking to increase lighting. He also says the entertainment district has grown from where it used to be; it isn't just East 6th anymore, it's West 6th, Rainey and 4th streets as well.
“We've been talking a lot about an increase in violence we've been seeing with guns, we talked about the frequency with which guns are used in part 1 violent crimes and an increase we've seen over the past five years,” Manley said. “We also talked about the incidents that occurred during SXSW weekend.”
He discussed the shootings on 7th and Red River on July 21 which injured someone and the one on East 7th on July 27 which injured another. The suspect is.
Right now the department is looking for 29-year-old Reginald Thomas and 20-year-old Moses Mohinga on aggravated assault with a deadly weapons charges in connection with the shootings. They say the suspects and victims knew each other beforehand.
APD’s HALO cameras caught both of these shootings. Both of those victims are expected to be okay.
“Although these individuals do frequent the area of the Arch they are not believed to be homeless or receiving services from the Arch,” Manley said.
Manley also addressed the stabbing that happened this past weekend in the Domain area.
“They ended up bumping into each other, exchanging words and some sort of struggle ensued at which point the suspect stabbed the victim multiple times,” Manley said. “The suspect did get away and we do not have him identified yet.”
Overall Manley says violent crime in the downtown area has increased, but violent crime in Austin is down eight percent from this time last year and Austin’s still the fifth safest city to live.