Austin shooting began as confrontation between Killeen teenagers

Kelsey Bradshaw Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — Downtown Austin appeared to be back in the pre-pandemic swing of things last weekend, with hordes of visitors reveling on Sixth Street. But, according to police, a confrontation between teenagers from Killeen led to an exchange of gunfire that killed one person and injured 13 more.

The shooting — the city’s worst mass casualty incident in seven years — claimed the life of Douglas Kantor, a 25-year-old tourist. The New York native who lived in Michigan had come down to Texas to hang out with some old friends in Austin but may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

An arrest affidavit Austin police filed Wednesday morning for Jeremiah Tabb, one of two people arrested in connection with the shooting, provided details about what led to the shooting. The document connects Tabb to at least one shooting injury but does not indicate who wounded any of the other victims.

Tabb, 17, has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection to the shooting. He was not listed as being in the Travis County Jail on Wednesday.

The other person arrested is younger than 17 and, because they are a juvenile, police have not released any information on them.

Investigators used social media and witness interviews to connect the dots on how teenagers from Killeen ended up in downtown Austin that night.

A juvenile witness, whose full name was not revealed in the affidavit, was interviewed by police after they found out he was sent to Dell Seton Medical Center after being wounded in the shooting.

He told authorities that Tabb had shot him in the leg in Killeen two days before running into him again on Sixth Street. Killeen police confirmed Wednesday that a drive-by shooting on June 8 wounded a juvenile but that the investigation was ongoing.

Details about the Killeen shooting were not included in the Austin police affidavit against Tabb, but the teenage witness told police that he and Tabb knew each other and had attended the same middle school.

When presented with a Killeen school district photo of Tabb, the witness identified, with 100% certainty, that Tabb was the one who shot him in Killeen and the person he saw on Sixth Street in Austin over the weekend, the affidavit says.

The witness’s younger sister had posted on social media on Friday that they were going to Austin for the night, according to the affidavit. Tabb then posted on social media that he, too, was going to Austin for the night, police said.

Once in Austin, the witness, his friends and his sister were walking near Mooseknuckle Pub in the 400 block of East Sixth Street when they saw Tabb shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday.

The witness said that Tabb and the group he was with continuously stared at him and his friends. Tabb then addressed two of the witness’s friends and said: “What y’all wanna do? Ya’ll wanna fight?”

A friend of the witness replied: “It’s whatever,” the affidavit says.

Tabb then pulled a gun from his waistband and the witness turned away and started to run. He then heard gunshots, the affidavit says. The friend who had replied to Tabb also had a gun and started shooting back, another witness told police.

A third person was also reported to have been shooting during the incident, the affidavit says.

A third witness said they saw Tabb pull a black, semi-automatic pistol from his waistband and start shooting. The witness took off running but tripped over a person on the ground. That is when the witness realized he had been shot in his lower left leg, the affidavit says. Tabb’s single aggravated assault charge stems from that person’s gunshot wound.

Witness and victim statements helped police determine that Tabb and the group he was with were standing on the sidewalk outside Mooseknuckle Pub, facing south when the shooting happened.

The other group was in the street at the time, facing north toward the pub where Tabb was.

Austin-Travis County EMS medics, Austin Fire crews and police responded at 1:25 a.m. Saturday to the scene. Investigators said security video footage from the area showed people dropping to the ground as gunshots rang out. People were found covered in blood and spread out on the street and nearby sidewalks.

Eight shell casings were found at the scene, according to the affidavit.

Killeen school district police officers arrested Tabb while he was in a summer school class, interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said Tuesday. Austin police have determined that both persons arrested were shooters on Saturday, he said.

Austin police were in talks with Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza to determine what additional charges would be brought against both alleged shooters, Chacon said.

The shooting Saturday is the most significant mass casualty incident in Austin since 2014 when Rashad Owens drove his car through a crowded, barricaded street during South by Southwest festivals, killing four people and injuring 30 more.

News of Kantor’s death came on Sunday.

He was born in Airmont, New York, and attended Michigan State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, according to his family. He worked at the Ford Motor Co. after graduating and later pursued a master’s degree in business from Michigan State.

Kantor had hoped to marry his high school sweetheart, Adrianna Esposito, and start a family with her.

Police have declined to release the names of the other 13 victims as the investigation remains ongoing, Chacon said.