Austin morning shootings dangerous for short-staffed police department, police association says

Police are still investigating a deadly shooting that happened mid-morning Tuesday in Downtown Austin.

East Sixth and Sabine Street became a crime scene after Austin police received multiple 911 calls reporting a man had been shot.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found a victim with obvious trauma to the chest. Despite life-saving measures performed by EMS, the man was pronounced dead.

"At this time, we don't have anybody detained, nor do we have a suspect identified, but it is an isolated incident with no threat to the public. It appears that a disturbance took place between one and multiple subjects which led to the shooting," said Officer Jose Mendez, Austin Police Department Public Information Office.

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday says shootings happening mid-morning are dangerous for an already short-staffed police department.

"It just is a very violent place right now here in the City of Austin especially in the downtown area. We have a drastic shortage of police officers. We're having to take detectives out of bureaus, homicide, robbery, crimes against children just to answer 911 calls," said Casaday.

Casaday says it is not unheard of for APD to have two or three officers on a daily shift in certain areas of the city due to the staffing issues, this includes downtown.

"It's intimidating when you know that you're responding to shooting scenes where you should have four or five police officers at the very minimum, and, you know, you're only going to be there by yourself or maybe with a partner," he said. 

Casaday is calling on the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute violent crime suspects to keep the streets of Austin safe.

Austin Police Association referred to a case where APD arrested 18-year-old Nathan Ramirez on a second-degree felony drug charge and for unlawfully carrying a firearm an hour after the shooting of two men downtown and death of one. 

Two days later, Ramirez was released from jail.

Casaday says it is not just the police's job to keep Austin safe, the DA has responsibility, too, and that is by prosecuting criminals and not releasing them.

"Police officers arrest. They do the investigation, and then it's up to the D.A. on what gets prosecuted, so people's frustration with the police department actually should be directed to the DA's office," he said.

APD says Tuesday’s shooting is actively being investigated.