AUSTIN — The Killeen man accused of driving a car into a crowd at the South by Southwest festival and killing two people was formally charged Friday with capital murder.
The Austin Police Department confirmed Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, faces one count of capital murder, though additional charges may be added later. Owens is in custody in Travis County Jail with bond set at $3 million, according to jail records.
According to police, Owens was behind the wheel of a silver sedan early Thursday when an officer on a drunken-driving patrol tried to pull him over at a gas station on Ninth Street and the Interstate 35 frontage road. Owens fled, weaving between parked cars and driving at a high speed the wrong way down Ninth Street, which is one-way. Owens then crashed through barricades, hitting several pedestrians on Red River Street between Ninth and 11th, police said.
Jamie Linver was standing on the roof deck at the Mohawk club on Red River that night listening to music when she saw a man’s body fly into the air.
“It was horrible chaos,” Linver said. The native Austinite didn’t hear or see the car as it ran through the crowd because it was traveling too fast. “It was quiet for a few seconds, and then people were screaming and yelling.”
Police confirmed a male cyclist from the Netherlands, Steven Craenmehr, 35, and a female Austin resident riding a moped, 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West, were killed in the crash.
Twenty-three others, including Owens, were transported to area hospitals. The injured ranged in age from 17 to 39. Eight were still hospitalized Friday, according to The Associated Press.
According to information from his various social media accounts, Owens was a producer and rapper hoping to make a name for himself in the Central Texas hip-hop scene. He performed under the name KillingAllBeatz. His Facebook page and Twitter accounts host some of his music and videos.
In addition to two past arrests in Bell County for criminal trespassing, the Los Angeles Times reported Owens had several misdemeanor arrests out of the Fairbanks Fourth District in Alaska, including being charged as a minor under the influence of alcohol and criminal trespass.
In October 2011, he was charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident, the Fairbanks records show.
He pleaded guilty to the DUI misdemeanor charge, and prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor offense for fleeing, according to court records.
The Austin American-Statesman reported Owens has six children. According to his Facebook page, the youngest was born Feb. 5.
As the case against Owens moves forward, the shadow cast over the SXSW festival by the tragedy has some Austin residents upset that it puts the city in a bad light.
“I’m angry because it makes my city look bad,” said Shelia William, who attended the festival for the last three years. “People are going to remember SXSW for this, and this is not what Austin is about.”
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.