The 21-year-old who was identified as the suspect in the SXSW hit-and-run-accident that killed two people and left 23 others injured early Thursday (March 13), was an aspiring rapper, reports Rolling Stone.
Rashad Charjuan Owens was taken in to custody the same day as the incident, on two counts of capital murder and nearly two dozen counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle. Formal charges have not yet been filed.
Accoridng to ABC News, police say Owens was driving a stolen vehicle when he plowed into an unsuspecting crowd, around 12:30 a.m. He continued to speed through the Austin streets breaking barricades, then fatally striking a man on a bike and a woman on a moped, before he crashed the car and tried to get away on foot. "As a result of this person's reckless and willful disregard for the safety of the people, we have two individuals who are now dead," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo at a press conference.
The victims have been identified as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr who worked at a MassiveMusic, a managment company based in Holland, and 27-year-old Austin resident, Jamie West.
Authorities deemed the incident "intentional" because Owens was attempting to flee after being pulled over at a gas station earlier in the night. "The bottom line is, when somebody's acting intentionally, and this is a person that was trying to get away, it's very difficult to stop," Acevedo explained. "It's clear for me from his actions, from what I've seen, that this is an individual who showed no regard for the human beings that he plowed through in his attempt to get away."
Owens has several arrests on his record including criminal trespassing and DUI offenses. Police have not yet confirmed that he was under the influence during the SXSW tragedy. The Texas native raps under the stage name KillingAllBeatz, or K.A.B254 for short. He was in Austin for a live performance the night before.
Festival organizers ultimately decided not to pull the plug on the festival saying in a statement, "To avoid confusion, we plan to carry on with our scheduled daytime events at the Austin Convention Center in order to serve our tens of thousands of participants during this tragic time."
Eight of the 23 people injured by Owens remain hospitalized, two of whom are in critical condition.
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(Photo: Courtesy of Bell County Sheriff’s Office)