AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Police Department (APD) said a man was shot and killed by a SWAT team officer after responding to a standoff in southwest Austin that escalated into a house fire.
The APD said that approximately 9:16 a.m. Wednesday, Austin Code Enforcement and district representatives were on scene in the 10600 block of Pinkney Lane to conduct a civil standby for lawn maintenance. APD and code enforcement spoke to the man through a window and told him about a nuisance and abatement search warrant. Austin Police Chief Joe Chacon said the man would not open the door and speak with them face-to-face.
Officers then left a copy of the warrant at the front door, Chacon said.
Then, lawn contractors who work for code enforcement began conducting lawn maintenance on the yard of house. At around 10:21 a.m. an APD officer said over the air that someone had fired gunshots at them. Officers then moved the contractors and code enforcement officials off the property, Chacon said.
The SWAT team was then called for an armed, barricaded subject later identified as 56-year-old Robert Bruce Richart. Several attempts were made to contact him inside the home, Chacon said, but they were unsuccessful.
The residence is near the Circle C Ranch neighborhood off of Escarpment Boulevard.
At 10:43 a.m. SWAT officers, mental health officers and an APD crisis negotiator arrived on scene and tried to deescalate the situation for several hours, he said.
Austin Police Chief Joe Chacon said in a press conference Wednesday evening that the barricaded subject, identified as 56-year-old Robert Bruce Richart, fired shots again at officers at the back of the home. At 3:19 p.m., police then made entry to the front of the home using a robot after Richart fired at officers and found that a fire had been started, Chacon said.
The Austin Fire Department confirmed it responded to a "fully involved" fire at the house at 10616 Pinkney Lane as part of the incident. Photos on social media showed extensive damage to the home.
At 3:39 p.m., Richart then opened the garage door to escape the flames with weapons in-hand, according to Chacon.
A SWAT officer, who Chacon said has been with the department for eight years, fired a shot, striking Richart. A second SWAT officer also shot a Richart, Chacon said.
"Due to the smoke obscuring visibility, SWAT Officer Brandon Stewart impacted him with two less-than-lethal rounds to ensure that Mr. Richart was no longer a threat," Chacon said.
Police and EMS started life-saving measures on the man prior to taking him to the hospital. He was then taken to the hospital, where he later died, Chacon said. The SWAT officer, identified as Officer Eric Strnad, will be placed on administrative duty, per department policy in officer-involved shootings.
A code enforcement official sustained minor injuries and was also taken to the hospital where they were treated.
Police said Richart was the only person in the home and there were "several" firearms in the home. APD asked residents to avoid the "immediate area." APD said no officers were injured.
Chacon said two concurrent investigations are ongoing at this time: a criminal investigation conducted by the APD Special Investigations Unit with the Travis County District Attorney's Office and an administrative investigation conducted by the APD Internal Affairs Unit with supervision from the Office of Police Oversight.
Chacon also shared two redacted 911 calls and three bodycam videos regarding the events that day. The first 911 call was someone reporting shots fired from the street on Roxbury Lane, a street running next to the one where the incident happened.
The second 911 call was someone giving the dispatcher Richart's name and number during the SWAT situation.
The three bodycam videos came from SWAT officer cameras and showed the moments they shot at Richart.
Austin ISD said the situation impacted several bus routes. Bus riders or walkers who live in the perimeter of the incident will be taken to Kiker Elementary.
Families were able to pick up their children at the following campuses:
- Kiker ES (placed on precautionary lockdown)
- Bear Creek ES
- Lively MS
- Gorzycki MS
- Kealing MS
- Bowie HS
- Ann Richards SYWL
- Alternative Learning Center
Students who ride the bus or walk to school and live within the police perimeter were taken to Kiker ES, the school district said.
After the man was taken to the hospital and police had confirmed there was no other threat to the community, school lockdowns were lifted, Chacon said.
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