AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: An Austin Police Department press release on June 17 changed the number of victims from 14 to 15.
As we learn more about what happened before and during a mass shooting in Austin, we're hearing from law enforcement and emergency responders, but we've also been trying to get in touch with people who were on Sixth Street and witnessed what happened.
"We were entering into the bar and we were up next to give the bouncer my ID," said Edgar Ortiz, a visitor. "That's when I heard all the shots. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom."
Ortiz found himself in the middle of a mass shooting on Austin's iconic Sixth street.
"Everybody just ducked real fast," said Ortiz. "Everybody just ducked and run. My ears were ringing, that's how close the shots were. Then the bouncers were yelling, 'Everybody get inside, get inside!' They shut the doors and nobody in or out."
Ortiz said he looked out of the window at 512 Bar and saw the woman who was behind him in line, on the ground, shot. She was just one of 15 people police say were hurt.
Ralph Surber was also there and got a video of that moment. You can see police rendering aid to the woman in the midst of chaos. Fights continued to break out, despite multiple people lying on the ground.
Surber, who works at multiple bars on Sixth Street, said violence has increased since re-opening after the pandemic shutdown.
"People are way more active now," said Surber. "I see about 10 fights a night."
Austin police said the shooting stemmed from an argument between two groups. Police also said most, if not all, of the victims were innocent bystanders.
Ortiz, who was in town from Houston for work, said he won't be hanging out on Sixth Street anymore.
"I didn't think it was that bad and out of control like that," said Ortiz. "We got way more than we bargained for."
Taylor Blount was also standing along the busy street when all of the chaos unfolded.
"Well, it was about 1:30 [a.m.] And I was standing on the block looking towards where the shooting happened, which is in front of 512 and Jackalope," he said. "And I heard, it sounded like at least from the same gunfire, about five to 10 shots into the crowd. I did not see the shooter, other people were in front of him. There was a brief pause and then everybody started running in different directions. It became quite chaotic."
Once he saw people running, he went for cover.
"I went back into the bar that I had been drinking at and everybody closed and locked the doors," Blount said.
He said that before the shooting happened, the crowds on Sixth Street looked as packed as it did prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that vaccinations are ramping up, Downtown Austin's nightlife appears to be returning in full force. This weekend marked the return of ROT Rally 2021.
"Yes, it was a lot of people here," Blount said. "The crowds are absolutely packed with bikers and bikes and spectators and just the regular crowd, honestly."
More than a dozen people were sent to hospitals after the shooting happened. As of Monday afternoon, police said two people were in custody. On Sunday, KVUE's Tony Plohetski confirmed one of the 15 people shot had died. The victim was a man vacationing to Austin from New York, Plohetski confirmed. Police identified the victim Sunday as 25-year-old Douglas John Kantor. KVUE spoke with Kantor's brother about their family's loss. You can see the family's statement here.
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