AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin police continue investigating how a suspect handcuffed inside a patrol car Sunday was able to get shoot himself, a witness inside the Austin Ale House is offering additional perspective into the scene outside the business in the minutes before and after the suspect fired the weapon.
Keisha H. is a server at Austin Ale House located at the corner of West Sixth Street and Lavaca Street. She said it was an average Sunday on Sixth Street as football games were shown on the jumbo screens, but that quickly changed when she noticed a police car in her peripheral vision.
“I didn’t think anything of it just because there are so many cops that stop there. But then, as I was walking by the windows again, I noticed that both of the left side of the car doors were open to the cop car and there was no cop in the car,” she said. “But there was a person in the back seat and I could just see a full head of black hair.”
The suspect inside the car was 19-year-old Zachary Khabir Anam. Police arrested Anam at Barton Creek Square Mall around noon Sunday for shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance. Officers originally couldn’t figure out his name, so they drove him to APD Headquarters downtown to get fingerprints. On the way, police say the young man was making suicidal comments. When the officer asked if he had the means to do that, the suspect said he did.
Interim Austin Chief of Police Brian Manley said that’s when the suspect removed a pistol, likely from the back of his waistband, and placed it toward his head. The officer immediately stopped his patrol car in front of Austin Ale House.
The server said she noticed an officer made his way around the patrol car, to the opposite end of the vehicle, with a drawn weapon. “All of a sudden, I just saw [the suspect’s] head kind of like slowly fall over as if he had been knocked out or he fell asleep or something.” Later, she says, the scene was surrounded by officers.
Keisha said officers then pulled the suspect out of the patrol car. “They were giving him CPR pretty excessively and it didn’t look like it was working. Shortly after, the ambulance arrived and they just took him. When they took him on the stretcher, we noticed that on the side of his head, he did have blood.” Anam died Monday morning at the hospital.
She said you could tell the situation was unexpected for law enforcement officers involved. “It just looked like very sudden. The cop, he looked like it was unexpected to him.”
The server says she didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until after it ended.
“We were extremely close. So, it was dangerous for us to be there. Had it gone any other way, it could have been more casualties,” she said.