Police will not file charges against a UT student arrested near Clark Field after they say he was exercising while carrying a fake rifle.The University sent a safety alert text message at 4:00 p.m. Friday saying “UTPD searching for armed male subject wearing shot gun and gas mask last seen 24th and Guadalupe Call UTPD if sited [sic].”Six minutes later, UTPD sent a text message saying the subject was in custody. The man was carrying a fake rifle, said APD spokesperson Jennifer Herbert.Herbert said Austin police started receiving calls around 3:51 p.m.University spokesperson Cindy Posey said University police will not file charges against the suspect, who’s name she cannot release because of educational privacy laws.In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, UTPD chief Robert Dahlstrom said the suspect was simply running through campus with a training rifle this afternoon to work out.“You got to look at the intent,” Dalhlstrom said to the Austin American-Statesman. “Number one, the weapon was not a real weapon. Number two, the intention was not [to] harm anybody.”Dahlstrom said to the Austin American-Statesman that the suspect was very responsive to police instruction before officers took him to the UTPD station and released him around 4:45 p.m.“[The suspect] understands the situation,” Dahlstrom said to the Austin American Statesman.A student on twitter said he saw the man, but the gun did not look real.“What I saw was a guy wearing a gas mask just running along with an air soft gun. Not threatening anyone,” said Biology freshman America Revere on her twitter account. “Nobody even thought much of it, Austin is just full of weird people.”An eyewitness to the arrest, psychology sophomore Jesus Rodriguez, said the suspect remained calm as police apprehended him. He said the suspect was a thin white male who appeared to be in his twenties.“There was nothing when I came here, and I just ran a lap,” Rodriguez said. “When I got done with that one lap the guy was already on the floor. There were two police on him, there were three cop cars and then everybody just crowded around. He was just sitting there. He had a huge backpack and he had a gun.”Rodriguez said the suspect’s gun was obviously fake.Ashley Elder, an employee at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 24th Street and the Drag, said shortly after she got the text message from UTPD, their chief operating officer sent her a text telling her to lock the doors.Updated at 7:56 p.m.
Austin Police Department arrested 300 homeless people in the first weekend of the recently enacted Public Order Initiative.
For the duration of October, APD will target their attention to property crimes downtown to reduce public violence. The Public Order Initiative is not permanent, but will continue for several weeks until APD reaches a decision about whether to continue action at the end of the month.
The number of arrests in Austin has tripled since the start of the initiative, most of them coming from the homeless. Homeless advocates including Caritas, a non-profit organization that assists the homeless to achieve self-sufficiency, suspect the initiative is directed at cleaning up homeless people from the streets.
House the Homeless, an advocacy group for the impoverished, is disturbed the enactment of the initiative coincides with events that attract large crowds from outside the city, including Austin City Limits and the opening of the Formula One track. APD insists this correlation is purely coincidence, leading advocacy groups to believe that the initiative is a money-making scheme rather than an action to improve order in Austin.