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  • Writer's pictureBrad Parker

Austin Protest Shooters Released: Self-Defense Points Noted

self-defense shooting at Austin protest
A driver caught in the protest shot and killed a protester armed with a rifle.

Reports are coming out that the self-identified shooter at the Austin protest has been released by police after questioning.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley has conducted an online press briefing with the latest on the investigation into the shooting of a protester identified as Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old white male.

Some highlights of the briefing:

  • Police officers at the scene of the protest moved up after hearing gunfire and observed that the protester was shot multiple times and was carrying an AK- 47 type of rifle. Police began resuscitation efforts which was continued by EMS when they arrived.

  • Multiple phone calls were received by the 911 operator one of which was from the driver who shot from inside the car and driven away from the scene.

  • The caller told police on the phone that he shot someone who approached the driver’s window and pointed a rifle at him. He was directed by police to stop at a location where he was contacted by police and was brought to homicide bureau to be interviewed. His handgun and vehicle were secured as evidence.

  • Multiple witnesses on the scene reported “several different versions of the incident.” However Chief Manley summarizes the incident as starting when a vehicle was stopped by a large crowd and began honking his horn. Protesters approaches the vehicle and the deceased protester approached from the window as others surrounded the car and began “striking the vehicle”.

  • “Gunshots were fired from inside the vehicle at Mr. Foster.” It appears that Mr. Foster may have pointed his weapon at the driver of this vehicle prior to being shot.

  • Another protester drew his concealed handgun and fired at the car as it drove away. He has also been interviewed by the homicide bureau and has been released. This person’s handgun, as well as Foster’s rifle, have also been secured as evidence.

  • Police are calling for and reviewing witness statements, photos and videos to determine the “precise actions of those involved”.

  • Both of the subjects who shot at the scene have been released and both of them were concealed carry permit holders.

The chief addresses a question during the briefing about what the car was doing there in the first place. He declined to add any information on what the driver was doing in the area. The time of the incident was 9:51 p.m. on July 25 -- a Saturday night. In this case it seems reasonable that you would be out on a Saturday night in your vehicle before 10 p.m. This is not a case of someone in the area in the wee hours after midnight. It will be interesting to see what the driver's reasons for being in the area were, because you lose your right to claim self-defense when you are doing something illegal at the time. This will not go well for the driver if it can be argued that he had clashes with protesters earlier in the evening or he was planning some sort of counter protest activities.

One item of note mentioned by the chief in his interview is that the organizers of the protest are employing a tactic which I feel will better protect both protesters and drivers. That is having a collection of vehicles following the marchers. The chief sees this as a hinderance for emergency response, but I see it as a way to keep the crowd "safe" from vehicles plowing into them from behind and as a way to keep innocent motorists from attempting to navigate through the mob. In other words, motorists who are in denial of the dangers they are exposed to when driving through a crowd will be less tempted to try if they are blocked by a line of vehicles.

However, this doesn't mean you can't get caught in the mob at the front or sides of the crowd. We've seen cases of protesters changing directions and innocent drivers getting caught in the mob. I've also seen a case where police officers actually directed a driver down the street that became crowded with protesters and the vehicle attacked.

As we've seen in this other post regarding self-defense when you are trapped in your car by a mob, the mob mentality is consistent in attacking vehicles caught by the crowd.

You have to avoid and evade crowds -- even if you will be inconvenienced or even if you have the right-of-way on the road and pedestrians are violating the law.

If you find yourself trapped, you need to move. It's becoming more and more dangerous for you. These are not "mostly peaceful" protests anymore. And the level of violence will continue to rise as our society fractures further.

Self-defense Tips for Drivers Around Protests

  • Monitor the news and social media to see if there are any disturbances in your area.

  • Avoid areas that are congested and are symbolic like police stations and City Hall.

  • Keep your doors locked.

  • Keep your windows up.

  • Keep moving even if it is at a slow speed.

  • Keep scanning for threats approaching.

  • If assaulted, immediately move off the 'x' and escape the danger zone.

Related: New Threat: Shot While Car Trapped by Mob

Related: Self-Defense Lessons from the L.A. Riots

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