Rashad Charjuan Owens, Wannabe Rapper, ID'd as SXSW Crash Driver

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 10:01 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Wannabe rapper Rashad Charjuan Owens has been identified by police as the driver who plowed through a crowd at SXSW, the South By Southwest music and technology festival in Austin, Texas, killing two and injuring 23.

The 21-year-old Owens faces two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, Austin police said Thursday afternoon in a statement, the Associated Press reported. Formal charges are still pending.

Though the police statement did not provide a city of residence for Owens, the Austin American Statesman reported that the 21-year-old suspect is from Killeen, Texas. CBS reported that he was a rapper with a small entertainment label. Relatives described him as a music producer.

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According to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, authorities believe Owens intentionally drove into the crowd to evade capture.

"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 said at a press conference on Thursday, the AP reported. "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 was arrested by police at the scene as he attempted to flee on foot after barreling his dark Toyota sedan into a crowd of SXSW festival-goers. He had initially been pulled over at an Interstate 35 gas station by an officer on a drunken-driving patrol, but managed to drive away. That same police officer who pulled him over later tasered Owens into submission at the festival, the Austin American Statesman reported.

A second suspect who was a passenger in the car has yet to be identified by police.

Public records obtained by the AP reveal that Owens has had multiple prior arrests, including driving under the influence in Fairbanks, Alaska, in October 2011, for which he pled guilty. Additionally, Owens pled guilty to criminal trespassing in September 2010 in Killeen.

As of Thursday afternoon, five of the 23 individuals injured in the crash remained in critical condition, the Los Angeles Times reported. The two individuals killed in the rampage included an Austin woman whose name was not released, and a 35-year-old Dutchman named Steven Craenmehr.

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