After a brawl with Austin police officers over trimming an overgrown lawn, a Texas man is now dead.
The incident began with a nuisance removal effort on Wednesday morning. It ended when the man, armed and equipped with multiple weapons, entered the garage, as the house was set ablaze around him. Austin police and code enforcement officers served a search warrant on the house at 9:15 am that morning for nuisance abatement. The warrant was related to overgrown lawns in the front and back.
A little over an hour later, while contractors from the code enforcement department were mowing the lawn, someone started shooting at them. Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon stated at a Wednesday press conference. According to reports, the man was described as white and in his mid-50s. He has yet to be identified.
All the contractors were uninjured and were able safely to leave the house.
The ordeal was not over.
Chacon stated that officers attempted to talk with the resident of the house after the initial shots were fired. Chacon said that the resident did not respond.
The SWAT team, mental health officers, and a crisis negotiator were all called to the scene. The school’s elementary was also placed under lockdown. Officials had no other means of reaching the man in the house so a PA system was used.
Chacon stated that SWAT spent many hours trying to get the person to leave the house. However, there was no response.
Chacon stated that the suspect then started firing at officers back in the house just after 3:15 pm.
He said that there were many shots fired at officers and that they entered the house using a robot because of the threat.
The robot indicated that there was a fire in the house and it was rapidly spreading. Chacon stated that officers also heard additional gunshots, but it was not clear where the suspect was or where he was firing.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the fire started.
The officers backed off but continued to try to reach the individual inside the house for 20 more minutes. According to Chacon, the house was now completely engulfed by flames. Chacon believed that the man inside had died from the smoke and flames, so Chacon told Chacon that firefighters began to extinguish the fire.
The man didn’t give up.
Chacon stated that the garage door was opened at 3:39 p.m. and the suspect, who had weapons in his hands, stepped out of the garage. “A SWAT officer shot and hit the resident at that point, who was left with a gunshot wound.”
The man died. Officers attempted to provide lifesaving assistance before he was admitted to the hospital. After seven hours of trying to cut the grass, he was declared dead at 4:01 p.m.
Chacon stated that the SWAT officer responsible for shooting the resident had been with the department for 8 years and was placed on administrative duty according to department policy. Both an internal and criminal investigation are ongoing.
Chacon described the lawn nuisance problem as “an ongoing situation with the code division regarding an overgrown grass in the front or back yard.”
Local CBS affiliate KEYE reported that neighbors had never seen the man who lived there. The Circle C neighborhood is where the median home value is almost $750,000.