Four people are dead, including an Austin police SWAT officer, after an early morning firefight when police breached a home to try to save two wounded victims being held by a gunman who then shot at the officers.
Police did not release the name of the dead SWAT team member, the first Austin officer fatally shot in the line of duty in a decade. Another SWAT officer, also shot, was in stable condition at Dell Seton Medical Center. The SWAT officers had entered the house in South Austin and traded shots with the barricaded shooter, who died. The two victims in the home were found dead.
The shooting happened around 4:30 a.m. inside a single-family home in the 9300 block of Bernoulli Drive, just off West Gate Boulevard.
Interim Austin Police Chief Robin Henderson said during a media briefing that a man inside the house held two people hostage and had stabbed a third person. That stabbing victim managed to escape around 3 a.m. Medics rushed her to a hospital, and she is expected to survive.
According to Henderson, the first patrol officers to respond to the call entered the house, identified themselves as police, but had to retreat when the attacker shot at them. The SWAT team arrived about an hour later, Henderson said, and the team members “forced” their way into the home, and it turned into a shootout.
Investigators did not identify the two victims inside the home, the person stabbed or if they have any relation to the shooter.
Henderson, visibly moved during the briefing, provided a timeline and took no questions afterward.
Earlier Saturday, the tranquil community of Tanglewood Oaks turned into a massive crime scene. Residents recall first being jolted awake by the sound of gunfire, then flashing lights with police vehicles everywhere and officers shouting. Police blocked the residential streets leading to Bernoulli Drive with their patrol SUVs and cars, directing motorists, cyclists and pedestrians away from the area.
Around 3 a.m., Marion Hailey, who lives just behind the house where the shooting happened, said several officers banged on her door.
“They said there’s a gunman in the area, and we would like you to leave,” Hailey said.
Hailey changed quickly and put her cat in the garage, but she didn’t have a means of transportation like her other neighbors, so she sat in the back of a police car with the door cracked for some three hours.
“The police were very professional, very calm,” Hailey said.
Another neighbor, Cameron Kish said, “I went outside, and then shortly after we saw SWAT coming,”
Amy Hanrahan said a guest staying at her place saw the incident unfold.
“She was awakened by all the lights,” Hanrahan said. “It was like a disco ball thing — her recollection was 4 in the morning.”
Jerry Joe Benson, who lives on Cohoba Drive, around the corner from where the shooting took place, said he did not hear any gunfire, but he woke up about 4 a.m. due to the flashing red and blue lights from patrol vehicles outside.
After reading the news that there had been a shooting, Benson, a 38-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, baked blueberry lemon muffins and brought out coffee for the officers stationed on the perimeter.
“If I lost a co-worker, I would feel pretty bad,” Benson told the Statesman. “I know this is a hard time for people to go through.”
At Dell Seton, Mayor Kirk Watson joined Austin Police Department brass.
“I am heartbroken and praying for the family of the officer who we have lost and for (a second injured) officer and his family as we lift him up and hope he is OK,” Watson said.
Shortly after 8:30 a.m., a procession of police motorcycles, police patrol vehicles, ambulances and Austin Fire Department vehicles departed from the hospital and headed east to the Travis County medical examiner’s office.
The Austin Police Retired Officers Association published a post on X, formerly Twitter, commenting on the death.
“Our hearts are heavy this morning with the news of one of our brothers with APD having been shot and killed in the line of duty,” the post said. “Please pray for his family all the APD family and for the speedy recovery of a second officer wounded in the same incident.”
The last Austin police officer killed in an on-duty shooting was officer Jaime Padron in April 2012.
This is a developing story and will be updated with additional information.