“A manhunt was underway in Austin after a gunman opened fire on a crowded downtown street as bars were closing Sunday, killing one person and wounding four others,” usatoday.com reports. “Austin Police Chief of Staff Brian Manley said five people were shot shortly after 2 a.m. on Sixth Street, a bustling 7-block entertainment district lined with historic buildings that now house bars, upscale restaurants, trendy shops and music venues.” And then . . .
Seven minutes after the first incident, police received reports of another incident several blocks away in which a suspect fired a gun at another person in a parking garage, Manley said. No one was injured, and nearby individuals disarmed the suspect, who was injured and transported to a hospital.
The two incidents together led police to tweet out an active shooter warning, Manley said, but police now believe the shootings were not related.
Police secured both crime scenes and warned people to avoid downtown.
Yes, there is that. Avoiding downtown, I mean.
A relevant data point: the shootings occurred at three in the morning. You may have heard that “nothing good happens after 2:00 am” (immortalized in an episode of the same name in How I Met Your Mother). Like that.
And then there’s Sixth Street, not more than half an hour from where I currently sit. It’s a legendary parade (as the Brits say) of bars and nightclubs, boasting most excellent live music. (Austin bills itself as the Live Music Capital of America, and for good reason.)
My first visit to the music mecca was eye opening. The closed-0ff street thronged with tourists, rivaling New Orleans’ Bourbon Street for density. More startling: the cops had set up a veritable fortress right in the middle of area: an open-air substation surrounded by plastic Jersey barriers. There were at least 30 cops lounging around inside and outside the perimeter.
Whether it’s a street protest or a party, anyplace dozens of uniformed cops gather indicates that there’s a large potential for problems. Oh, you might say where dozens of cops assemble there isn’t a problem. But Art Acevedo’s boys in blue aren’t out in force on “Dirty Sixth” simply to soak-up the atmos.
Equally, I was surprised to discover that there were lots of rap clubs interspersed between the country and blues venues.
At the risk of being labeled racist (a constant worry these days), I reckon those types of venues are more prone to violence than someone singing about how he returned from the bar one starry night to discover that Darlene had left in the truck with the kids. Or how a good man feeling bad feels, in three chords or less.
Needless to say, the media isn’t revealing the ethnicity of those involved in the Sixth Street shooting. What difference would that make, right? Would it become a racial issue if you knew that many Sixth Street establishments have been accused of shutting down when there’s an influx of African Americans?
Regardless, put it all together and a simple picture emerges of the scene last night: lots of drunk people very
late at night early in the morning. What was that rule for armed Americans? Avoid stupid people in stupid place doing stupid things.
That doesn’t mean avoid places like Sixth Street altogether. It could, but it doesn’t have to. What it does mean is that you might want to choose the time and place of your visit with care, and maintain extra situational awareness. And pack a gun. What of the near-blanket ban on concealed or open carry in the bars and clubs? An important factor.
My UK girls are arriving next week for a visit. The eldest is a professional opera singer whose love of music knows no bounds. But it will be bounded; by time, location and a chaperone. Who may or may not be carrying a gun.