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A suspected drunken driver was charged Friday with capital murder in the deaths of two people he allegedly killed as he sped erratically through streets filled with attendees of the South by Southwest digital conference in Austin, Texas.
Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, was charged in the deaths of Jamie West, 27, who was on a motorcycle, and Dutch tourist Steven Craenmehr, 35, who was slammed into by a cab that Owens allegedly struck on Thursday. Twenty-three people were injured, some seriously.
Police said the incident began when an officer attempted to stop Owens for a traffic violation. Owens allegedly fled the wrong way down a one-way road at high speed and turned onto Red River Street, which was closed for the city’s iconic event.
Witnesses said they heard Owens’ Honda rev up and the car accelerated, running over pedestrians. Some people were knocked in the air. “Victims were reported to have been flying everywhere as they were being struck by the Honda,” police said in the charging documents.
The Honda ground to a halt in a parking lot after running over a few curbs and crashing into a van. Owens took off on foot and a police officer Tasered him twice to get him to stop.
A blood-alcohol test revealed that Owens was over the legal limit, police said. He told police that he fled initially because he had outstanding warrants in a custody battle over his daughter, according to the charging documents.
Video evidence of the incident showed the driver “intentionally or knowingly hitting people and running through anything in the path,” and driving so fast that people “have no chance” to get out of the way, police said.
Owens was ordered held on $3 million bond.