Officials have not released the victim’s name, but his mother identified him as Garrett Foster in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Witnesses said Foster was killed shortly before 10 pm by a motorist who had threatened protesters with his car, according to The New York Times.
Video captured by journalist Hiram Gilberto Garcia showed demonstrators marching through downtown Austin, chanting “fists up, fight back,” moments before a car horn can be heard. A car then appeared to lurch toward the crowd as its horn blares, prompting screams from some protesters.
As demonstrators began to move toward the car, a person can be heard yelling “everybody back up” before eight gunshots rang out. Foster was transported to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Police said they believe Foster was armed and had approached the car before being shot. Michael Capochiano, a witness, told the Times that Foster walked toward the vehicle with the muzzle of the gun facing down.
“He was not holding it in an aggressive manner,” Capochiano said.
Foster can be seen carrying what he described as an AK-47 rifle during a brief interview with Garcia earlier Saturday.
Foster said he was carrying the weapon because he felt it necessary to “practice some of our rights” after his roommate was arrested for protesting. Asked if he believed he would need to use it, Foster said no.
In Texas, it’s legal to openly carry a rifle in public so long as it’s not brandished in a threatening way.
Garrett Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, told ABC that she believes her son had a license to carry. She said Garrett was pushing his fiancee, Whitney Mitchell, a quadruple amputee, in her wheelchair when the motorist opened fire. Mitchell was not injured in the shooting.
“They’d been participating in these protests almost every day for the past 50 days,” Sheila Foster said. “He was doing it because he feels really strongly about justice, and he’s very heavily against police brutality, and he wanted to support his fiancee.”
She said Mitchell and her son, both 28 according to public records, had been together since they were 17.
Police said the suspect, who has not been publicly identified, is cooperating with the investigation. No other injuries were reported.