Safety concerns swirl after downtown shooting

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 19-year-old man has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly shooting two people on Sixth Street. It happened early Sunday morning as bars were closing, Austin police said.

Paul Lenorris Whitley hurt a man and a woman after firing his weapon, police said. The woman was hit in the leg, and police weren’t sure where the man was hit. The shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. near Sixth and Red River streets.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Downtown Crime

  • Last year, Austin Police saw a significant decrease in violent crime. Numbers were down nearly 30 percent compared to 2012.
  • However, there has been an upward trend for these types of crimes so far this year, according to the chief’s monthly report.
  • Violent crimes are up 46 percent in January, compared to January 2013. The jump comes from an increase in robberies and aggravated assaults.

The three people were in an argument, possibly over a cell phone, police said. However, authorities don’t think the three knew each other.

Some witnesses told police they heard three shots, while others only heard one.

Police said Whitely tried to run away, but officers caught him about a block from the scene and recovered the gun nearby, according to the Austin Police Department.

“We had a lot of officers on the scene, and they got there very, very quickly,” said Detective Jarrett Crippen, “The main reason officers were able to apprehend this individual is we had several witnesses come forward and help with this investigation.”

Corey Oldham manages Casino el Camino, a bar and restaurant near the crime scene on 6th Street. The increased police presence makes a difference, he said.

“The cops down here are pretty good about quelling any issues,” he said. “Usually if something erupts, they’re pretty quick to respond.”

Curbing downtown crime is an ongoing effort for the police department.

“To make the downtown area safer, it’s a pretty simple formula in most cases: more officers, more working with the community, more working with the business owners in the downtown district, leads to lower crime,” Crippen said. “It’s been proven time and time again.”

The man and woman shot were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge. Their injures were not life-threatening.

blog comments powered by Disqus