Kidnapping in central Austin ends in deadly shooting

Kidnapping at HEB on Burnet Road at Koenig Lane on Aug. 2, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Kyle Kovilaritch)
Kidnapping at HEB on Burnet Road at Koenig Lane on Aug. 2, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Kyle Kovilaritch)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man is dead and a woman is in the hospital with a gunshot wound after an apparent aggravated kidnapping Wednesday afternoon that spanned two law enforcement jurisdictions.

Austin police said the initial kidnapping call came in at 1:35 p.m. in the parking lot of the H-E-B grocery store at 5808 Burnet Rd. Police say the two people involved knew each other. The suspect’s vehicle was listed as a gold Honda Accord.

About an hour later, around 2:40 p.m., the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said they received a 911 call from a woman saying she had been shot by a man and then the man shot himself. The man was identified Friday as Tomas Vences-Martinez, 25, of Austin.

At the time, the woman didn’t know the exact street she was on, so deputies were out searching the area around west Travis County.

“This was moving very quickly and when the initial call came in, our caller didn’t know where she was,” said TCSO spokesperson Kristen Dark. “We had many deputies racing, trying to figure out where she was.”

After a short period of time, the woman was able to find her location and tell deputies she was in the 4400 block of Aqua Verde Drive, which is in a neighborhood just south of the Pennybacker Bridge.

Gavin Griffith, whose driveway became a crime scene, was the first person at the scene. He tells KXAN he only came out of the house because a child had knocked on his door and when he opened it, the young boy, no older than 10, was holding a cellphone that was covered in blood.

We now know the 10-year-old, a family member of one of those involved, was present for the entire incident. Police say he is not the child of either the victim or the suspect.

“It was very, very surreal, to walk outside unknowing what’s going on,” he said. Griffith took the phone to talk to the 911 operator on the other end of the line while he went to check on the two people bleeding from gunshot wounds. Griffith said the woman was in the driver seat and the man was in the backseat and there was a bullet hole in the rear driver’s side window.

He started CPR on the man, and deputies and medics took over when they got there, but the man, who is in his 20s, died at the scene. The woman, also in her 20s, was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

That woman’s sister told KXAN Wednesday night she was still in the hospital but didn’t give any other details about her condition.

“We are not certain at this point in time that the shooting took place at the address,” Dark said, “we just know that that’s where the vehicle ended up.”

Now both agencies, TCSO and APD are investigating how and why the pair ended up in the neighborhood. Austin police originally said no children were involved, but Dark later clarified there was a juvenile witness.

It wasn’t clear Wednesday evening how the man and woman might be related, if at all, or how the child came to be a witness.

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