Austin police ramps up security downtown after seeing spike in shootings

Austin Police say they'll be ramping up their presence on weekends.

It's all part of a new initiative after seeing a spike in the number of shootings this month.

That includes three that happened last weekend alone. "We are pulling additional resources into the downtown area command center in the entertainment district on Thursday Friday and Saturday nights there will be more of a police presence in the entertainment district."

The Austin Police Department has launched a new initiative after seeing a spike in shootings.

There were three of them back to back this past weekend in the entertainment district, all within half a mile of one another. The first one happened on Saturday October 20 on 7th and Trinity. The second, minutes after the first one, on East 6th and San Jacinto. On Sunday the third shooting took place on the 400 block of east 7th street. All of them, happening around 2 to 3 o’ clock in the morning.

In the first shooting, the victim was walking to his car in the St. David’s Episcopal Church's parking garage when he was confronted by five Hispanic men who began hitting him in the face and body, also yelling at him. He escaped and started to run, heard two gunshots and started feeling pain in his back.   

He was struck in his lower back. Officers haven't been able to find the shooting suspect.

Minutes after shots rang out on 7th and Trinity, shots were fired in the Laz parking lot. The victim was also hit in back. Officers located the suspect. The next day, another shooting in the Laz parking lot - this time a victim was hit in his thumb and thigh. Police are still looking for the suspect.

Austin police say the three shootings aren't connected. "We're going to work to increase lighting through portable lights again in some areas that are not as well lit so patrons walking towards their vehicles towards the end of the night will have better lights. We're going to have helicopters that has the ability with the night sun the light that we have on that to light up areas of that as well."           

Chief Brian Manley says from January 1 to October 22 2017 there were 27 firearm related incidents. This year, there have been 25 during that same period. Only difference is there were two during the month of October, compared to the eight that have happened this month.

Manley says, "I think for folks that go down to the entertainment district it's still a safe place to go as long as you keep some things in mind."

He says do not overindulge, and don't leave yourself in a condition where you cannot take care of yourself. Pay attention to your surroundings especially when you're walking to and from your vehicle. If you see something that looks out of place or control, call the police. And if you can, walk in groups.

"Make sure you go out and have a good time but do so responsibly,” he adds.