A suspect is being held in custody after four people were shot and wounded at the South By Southwest festival in Texas.
The nine-day festival returned to Austin this year after being held virtually for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Austin Police Department told people to avoid the area at around 2:50am local time today, March 20.
The warning came after a gunman opened fire near E 6th St and Neches St, striking four people near the Alamo Ritz theatre. Authorities cleared the streets and police initially tweeted that the shooter was still at large, but shortly before 5am they tweeted to confirm a suspect had been reprimanded and was being held in custody.
UPDATE: Suspect in custody.— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) March 20, 2022
In a series of tweets, the department wrote: 'Shots fired on the 400 block of 6th St. Non-life-threatening injuries. Suspect still at large. Officers securing the area. Avoid the area... Detectives and analysts are still processing the scene. Suspect remains at large. No current threat to the public.'
Later, they simply wrote: 'UPDATE: Suspect in custody.'
The four people injured in the shooting were transferred to a nearby trauma centre by the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS). Their injuries are not thought to have been life threatening.
The medical services tweeted: 'Total patient count, 4. All transported to the Casualty Collection Point by Special Response Units then by ambulance to local trauma center, all with not expected life threat injuries. All additional units released. No further info.'
Streets around the area were opened again approximately one hour after the police department confirmed the suspect was in custody.
FINAL Critical Incident E 6th St / Neches St: Total patient count, 4. All transported to the Casualty Collection Point by Special Response Units then by ambulance to local trauma center, all with not expected life threat injuries. All additional units released. No further info— ATCEMS (@ATCEMS) March 20, 2022
One person at the festival shared their experience of the situation on Twitter, writing: 'I was at the TXEMO club SXSW late show with everyone one and we were leaving when the shooting took place down the street. We’re all safe but holy sh*t. I’m so happy we’re all safe.'
The shooting comes after police in Austin called for enhanced security at the event in the wake of multiple shootings which took place in 2019. At the time, Police Chief Brian Manley said none of the shootings appear to be related and described the violence at the event as 'unacceptable'.
'We are not going to let our entertainment district be turned into a place where shootings become the common occurrence', he said.
South By Southwest kicked off on March 11 and is set to come to an end today, March 20, following nine days of arts and entertainment. The festival brings together tech, film, music, education, and culture and in 2019 attracted approximately 417,400 people.
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