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SXSW accident: Drunk suspect in SXSW accident steered toward crowd on purpose

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The SXSW accident that took the lives of two people and injured two dozen pedestrians on March 13 – eight of whom are still in the hospital – led to the arrest and indictment of 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens, who said he fled from police because he “got scared.”

According to a March 15 report from The Associated Press, carried by Fox News, Owens was charged with “one count of capital murder, though additional charges can be added later. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has said Owens intentionally steered toward pedestrians early Thursday in hopes of escaping an officer who was trying to pull him over. Acevedo has suggested Owens could face two capital murder charges and as many as 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.”

Owens was fleeing police in the early morning hours of March 13 when he crashed into dozens of people that had gathered outside the Mohawk nightclub on Red River Street for the annual South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

After crashing, Owens exited his vehicle, a silver Toyota, and attempted to flee, but was hit by a police taser and incapacitated.

Scott Jakota was one of the first to be hit by the drunk’s car. Jakota said the drunk “gunned” his car before hitting him. “I was thrown up in the sky,” Jakota said.

Witness Ally Hulton, a 28-year-old from Los Angeles, saw the accident from a balcony overlooking the scene below. Hulton said she saw the car driving “at full speed” before hitting the crowd.

“About 10 bodies went flying,” Hulton said.

Police investigators confirmed that Owens, who remains jailed under a $3 million bond, accelerated as he approached the bystanders.

The AP report picks up the story:

According to the arrest warrant, Owens told police that he "got scared" when he saw police lights behind him around 12:30 a.m. Thursday because outstanding warrants meant he could go to prison for five years. The warrant says Owens said he's facing kidnapping warrants issued as part of a custody battle over his daughter.

The officer who tried to pull over Owens was looking for suspected drunken drivers when he spotted a 2012 gray Honda Civic that didn't have its headlights turned on, the arrest warrant says. Owens then made a turn from a middle lane and "would have caused a crash" with the police cruiser had the officer not turned to avoid it, according to the warrant.

Owens breathalyzer test showed .114, well over the legal limit of .08.

At a news conference, Acevedo said Owens "showed no regard for the human beings he plowed through … to get away."

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