City leaders weigh in after violent end to SXSW

Shooting after shooting.  

Five in fact.  Shots fired into a crowd, a dispute over payment at a restaurant...a downtown officer-involved shooting surrounding a Monte Carlo and a Maserati...a suspect's body was later found in that car that had been dumped in the Mueller neighborhood.

"This is unacceptable.  We are not going to let our entertainment district be turned into a place where shootings become the common occurrence," said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley over the weekend. 

"For a city that is one of the safest when it comes to violent crime for a city of our size this was a very unusual weekend and a really challenging one for our officers," said District 9 Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo.           

President of the Austin Police Association Ken Casaday worked downtown over the weekend.

"You had large amounts of people down there openly smoking marijuana, knowing that we didn't have enough people to handle the crowd," Casaday said.

And guns...

"It's not illegal to carry a gun but there's a certain circumstances where you can't so there were a few folks arrested," Casaday said.

Casaday says it's not SXSW's fault, it's the people attaching themselves to the festival.

"To me I know it's very unpopular to say but in my opinion the only way to cut that portion out is to stop the music portion of SXSW," Casaday said.  

Chief Manley says there will be a strong response from the police department.  Manley says he'll meet with APD leaders and others to put together a plan for the entertainment district.

"The bigger picture will be 'what else do we need to do?  What commonalties, if any, can we find?  Are there specific venues that are drawing in crowds that are the ones involved in these violent crimes?'" Manley said during a press conference Monday afternoon. 

Council Member Tovo's District 9 includes downtown Austin.

"I am very supportive of the work that he's going to do over this next couple of weeks to make sure that they're looking carefully at what happened over this last week and doing everything we can to support the Austin Police Department," Tovo said.  

Casaday's message to the Austin City Council: we need more resources.  Fred Burton is a former cop and federal agent.  He's now the Chief Security Officer with Stratfor.  He also says public safety needs to be the City Council's top priority.

"If I was looking to manage this problem as Chief Manley or APD does, you have to look at it with intelligence-led policing, you have to deploy undercover resources, plain clothes officers doing counter-surveillance to kind of mingle in, trying to look for individuals that may be up to no good," Burton said.  

Burton, who is also on the Greater Austin Crime Commission, says the city could end up being affected by crime in other ways.

"If word gets out that Austin does have a violence problem, what's going to be the ramifications from that?  There's a business ramification, there's a tax impact.  At the end of the day it's a reflection on our city," Burton said.