Austin implements increased safety measures on East 6th Street after shooting

Tori Duff, News reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the October 19 flipbook.

Working as a East Sixth Street bar bouncer, Jack Corrigan said he was no more than 30 feet away from a fatal June shooting outside a bar down the street. Now, Corrigan said he has stopped working in the nightlife industry because of the toll safety concerns took on his mental health.

“There are psychological effects that happen if you go downtown too much, specifically to dirty sixth, because … you never know what you’ll find,” Corrigan, a finance and sports management junior, said. “I’m definitely not working downtown again just because it’s not healthy for me; it’s not healthy for normal people.”

Joseph Chacon, Austin Police Department chief, said in a city memo released on Oct. 5 that the department is creating a command post for medical personnel to station at East Sixth Street on weekends. Austin Energy has also replaced 64 light fixtures with LED lighting. These initiatives come as a part of July Austin City Council resolution to increase safety and crack down on underage drinking on East Sixth Street. 

The resolution also created an interdepartmental team consisting of the Austin Police Department, the Austin Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, Austin Energy, Austin Code and the Historic Preservation Office to handle different aspects of East Sixth Street safety improvements.

After the June 12 shooting, where one person was killed and 14 were injured outside of Cheers Shot Bar, some students expressed concerns about gun violence on social media and said they have reservations about going to East Sixth Street.

Nicole Constantin, a management information systems junior, said she and her friends avoided going to East Sixth Street for the rest of the summer after the shooting.

“I think I’m just starting to take things more seriously, and I’m definitely more conscious of my surroundings (on East Sixth),” Constantin said. “Having Find My Friends on my iPhone (and) making sure our phones are fully charged (is) super important.”

Corrigan said he went through a number of life-threatening experiences over the summer, including having a gun pulled on him while working the door. Corrigan said he was also shot at on July 4 when two women were injured on East Sixth Street.

“I think that if downtown did have better lighting, more security, more … law enforcement and medical personnel that things would be a lot more safe,” Corrigan said. “(Violent crimes) shouldn’t necessarily be a regular occurrence.”

Camille DiGiaimo, a management information systems junior, said having more EMS could help respond to violent crimes and ensure the overall safety of East Sixth Street patrons.

“I definitely think having more medical people is good, not even for just shootings but for (intoxicated) people in general,” DiGiaimo said. “On Sixth, there’s no one to really help you except the bouncers and police officers, which sometimes is not the most approachable situation.”

The city is also encouraging bar owners adjacent to alleyways to install lighting on their buildings, and APD is working with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission to target underaged drinkers, according to the memo.

Corrigan said East Sixth Street is “fake ID central.” However, in the months following the fatal June shooting, alcohol sales on East Sixth Street temporarily decreased, according to a Downtown Austin Alliance study

“Our sales were atrocious for about three weeks because people were afraid to go out, and for good reason,” Carrigan said. “Hopefully these new safety measures will help with that.”