Weekend shooting prompts look at 6th Street crowd control

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by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE NEWS and Photojournalist DATHAN HULL

kvue.com

Posted on October 23, 2012 at 10:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 24 at 3:06 PM

AUSTIN -- Almost every weekend night, it's the street in downtown APD shuts down to traffic as the bars fill up. Anyone parked on 6th Street who needs to leave after that point has to make it out of the barriers through a crowd of pedestrians.

That's exactly what was happening early Saturday when things got out of hand.

It was not the sight but the sound prompting screams on 6th Street last Saturday. YouTube video captured the chaotic scene. A car stopped by four police gunshots. The female driver pinned to the ground by officers. She was not wounded, and was arrested.

Police said just seconds before the woman, trying to leave her job on 6th Street, drove into a mob that surrounded her car.

APD called it "an anomaly." For 6th Street bartender Stephania Biondo, it was inevitable.

"I think it was just a matter of time," Biondo said.

Late night shifts have given Biondo plenty of experience she'd rather go without.

"People are leaning on your car, banging on your car so you just want to kind of stay away from that," Biondo said. "I've had people stick stuff on it or throw up on it. So it's not fun."

"Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, those are going to be our busy nights," said APD Assistant Chief Raul Munguia.

Munguia said APD relies on multiple patrols to control those crowds, from officers on bikes and horses, to those on foot.

"Actually it's an art," said Munguia. "They're out there managing these crowds and they do a really good job."

Barricades only go up when sidewalks fill up. Munguia said when someone who's already parked inside needs to leave, officers direct them to the nearest side street.

For working 6th Street regulars like Biondo, the safest bet is often up to them.

"If I know that it's a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, I never park over there because that's what happens," Biondo said.

Two people were injured as the woman tried to drive away from that mob of people.

Police said at least one of those individuals was climbing onto the woman's car at the time. Police add due to the circumstances, charges of assault on an officer will not be pursued against the woman.

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