Entertainment News

  • 14 March 2014, 10:58

SXSW: Driver Charged With Murder Over Crash

A man has been charged with two counts of murder after crashing into a crowd of people during a police chase in Texas.

Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, drove down a street which was barricaded off for pedestrians only for the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin early on Thursday morning.

He was asked by police to pull over at a petrol station to take a sobriety test but instead sped away and crashed into people lined up outside the Mohawk club on Red River Street.

A woman riding a moped was killed and a man died after the bicycle he was on was hit. Police have not officially named them both yet.

After also smashing into a taxi cab and mounting the pavement, Owens fled from the car on foot and was only stopped when an officer used a stun gun.

Owens, of Killeen, Texas, is also facing multiple counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle after at least 23 people were injured, including two who are in a critical condition.

Scott Jakota, a musician from Indiana, told the Austin American Statesman newspaper he was one of the first people hit outside Mohawk.

He said the driver "gunned" the car and he "was thrown up into the sky".

Ally Hulton, from Los Angeles, was on the balcony of her friend's apartment overlooking the street when she saw the car driving "at full speed" before slamming into the crowd.

"About 10 bodies went flying," she told the newspaper.

"You cannot stop a person who decides that rather than face potential drunk driving charges decides to flee at a high rate of speed, go around a uniformed officer forcing them to run out of the way and then at a high rate of speed show total disregard for the sanctity of human life. That's why we will be charging, direct filing of two counts of capital murder on this individual," Austin police chief Art Acevedo said.

SXSW, which began as a music event in 1987, is a collection of interactive, film, and music festivals and conferences that draws tens of thousands of people to the Texas capital annually.

Jay-Z and Kanye West performed on Wednesday night and on Thursday Lady Gaga made a typically bizarre appearance.

She began by roasting herself on a spit like a gutted pig as her dancers basted her with barbecue brushes before performing a number of songs.

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