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Austin police say protest victim did not fire weapon, despite some reports

Austin police say protest victim did not fire weapon, despite reports

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A protestor who was killed in downtown Austin did not fire his rifle, according to police. Huffington Post

A protestor who was killed on Congress Avenue this weekend did not fire his weapon, despite unconfirmed reports claiming otherwise. On July 27, Austin Police issued their preliminary findings about the homicide, which garnered national attention as cities across the country enter their third month of unrest.

Twenty-eight-year-old Garrett Foster was marching in a peaceful protest around 9:50 pm on Saturday, July 25, when a car pulled from Fourth Street onto Congress Avenue and began honking at protestors. According to APD's report, members of the crowd surrounded the vehicle when Foster walked up. 

"Foster, who was holding an AK-47 type assault rifle, approached the driver’s side window as others in the crowd began striking the vehicle," according to the report. "Gunshots were fired from inside the vehicle at Foster."

Police say that as the car was driving away, another protestor "drew their concealed handgun and fired multiple shots at the vehicle as it drove away." Emergency dispatch then received a call from someone who said they had been involved in a shooting downtown. 

"The caller stated they had shot someone who had approached their driver’s window and pointed a rifle at them. The caller was instructed to pull over and officers would be dispatched." 

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley later confirmed that both the unidentified protestor and the driver, who has also yet to be identified, had licenses to open carry. In an interview with Good Morning America, Foster's mother, Sheila Foster, said her son also had a license.

Though some witnesses, including one interviewed by the Austin American-Statesman, say Foster pointed his gun at the driver, other outlets, including the New York Times, are reporting he did not.

Foster's final moments were eerily captured on Hiram Gilberto's Facebook Live video, which opens with a shot of Foster and his girlfriend, Whitney Mitchell, and ends two hours and 35 minutes later just after shots are fired. The video shows Foster pushing Mitchell's wheelchair through the intersection when the car begins honking. 

Following the shooting, Foster was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center and pronounced dead at 10:25 pm. 

Police interviewed both the driver and the protestor who shot at the car. Both subjects have been released pending further investigation.

This is Austin's 28th homicide of 2020, according to APD.