A Gunman was fatally shot by police after opening fire at “multiple buildings” in downtown Austin, officials in the Texas capital said early Friday. The city’s police headquarters was among the buildings targeted.
NBC station KXAN reported that a bomb-disposal robot was examining a possible device near the police HQ, which was evacuated.
Jesse Van Wallene, 29, told NBC News he found himself around 15 feet away from the shooter when he stopped at a red light and spotted him with a “large gun in his hand.”
“He was in full gear so he didn’t seem like a civilian, but there was no writing on any of the equipment,” the restaurant server said. “It seemed like he was wearing a bullet-proof vest and he was wearing a helmet with a clear visor over his face.”
Van Wallene said the gunman started shooting at a building opposite the police headquarters. “He was firing in bursts of about five shots,” he recalled. “He didn’t even seem to acknowledge we were there, he just seemed very focused on firing at the building, which had no lights on inside. The girl in my car said, ‘Go, let’s get out of here.’ We ran the red light.”
Austin Police Department Assistant Chief Raul Munguia told reporters that a 911 call reported shots being fired at 2:22 a.m. local time (3:22 a.m. ET). An officer outside the force’s headquarters then spotted the suspect fire a gun.
“You could see the muzzle flashes”
Munguia said suspect was in a vehicle but when officers approached they “noticed what appeared to be an improvised explosive device” inside. They dragged the suspect away from vehicle for his safety but noticed he was wearing “some kind of vest” and “backed away from the suspect” before creating a security perimeter around the scene.
By 6 a.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) officers had still not been able to get near the suspect.
Eyewitness Hans Paap, who lives on the third-story of an apartment block close to the police department, said he was woken up by the sound of gunfire.
“I woke up to a burst of gunfire, heard a second round and then got to the window and saw a third round,” he said. “You could see the muzzle flashes.”
The 36-year-old nightclub manager added that he could not see whether the gunfire was coming from officers or the shooter.
“Police responded very quickly, as you can imagine,” Paap said. “Four or five cruisers came onto the scene. There was a team that approached a white car that was parked the wrong way on East 8th Street, but they retreated.”
Paap said the scene of the shooting was at the eastern end of downtown Austin’s entertainment district.
“On a typical Thursday, Friday or Saturday night there could have been more people around but it was very quiet tonight,” he added. “A lot of bars had shut down for Thanksgiving.”
Courtesy of NBC