After shooting near ARCH, Police Union talks 'violent' 6-block area

Early Sunday morning at 7th and Red River streets, Austin police responded to a shooting which they say resulted in a woman being taken to the hospital. In an arrest warrant, police described the 26-year-old suspect as "transient."

The warrant says this particular incident began on Sixth Street and ended near the ARCH. Police say the suspect pulled a gun and shot the woman multiple times. The victim, who says she and the suspect know each other, told police he shouted "I want you to die. I'm not going to stop until I kill you."

On Facebook the Austin Police Association posted "Could this 6-block area be one of the most violent locations in the state of Texas?"

APA President Ken Casaday often works downtown on the weekends.  

"I started thinking about it, I'm like 'where else do you have continued violence like this especially the weekends?' You just don't see it in the entertainment districts anywhere else in the state,'" Casaday said.

Using the Austin Police Department's "Crime Viewer" tool, in the 6-block area the ARCH is in the middle of, since January of this year, there have been 45 incidents that include aggravated assault and deadly conduct, 39 violent robberies, and 494 thefts and burglaries.

"I think it's a combination of both, you have the mentally ill down there, you have people that are drug addicts and alcoholics and then you mix them with a bunch of teenagers coming in from around the country," Casaday said.

Fred Burton is a former police officer and federal agent. He's currently the VP of Intelligence at geopolitical intelligence company Stratfor and a Greater Austin Crime Commission director.  

He says people should drive by the area by the ARCH and not get out and walk around.

"I would encourage the viewers to go get in their cars, with their doors locked and drive by that area. I would not get out and walk around and that's the kind of issue that I think people once they see this would say 'well oh my goodness how did we get here?'" Burton said.

By the way, you might be wondering how a man experiencing homelessness got a firearm.

"Well I think if you talk to most street cops which I do all the time, they'll tell you that a good number of these individuals are walking around with weapons. Mostly knives," Burton said.

Casaday says if the city wants to fix the violence in the entertainment district, they should start by moving the ARCH.

"You need to have this area concentrated instead of different places in each district, that just spreads everybody out and I just don't see that working but I know that's what they want to do," Casaday said.

Council Member Kathie Tovo says there are currently no plans to move the ARCH, only a restructuring of the facility that will be in place this September, making it a housing-focused shelter.

Tovo also says she fully supports putting more officers in the ARCH area but she says allocation of officers is up to the police chief.

She also stresses the homeless are often the victims of violence.

Police are still looking for the suspect in the 7th and Red River shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call APD.