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SXSW crash: Bail set at $3 million for alleged drunk driver

March 14, 2014|By Joseph Serna
  • Police say Rashad Charjuan Owens drove through a barrier and into a crowd at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, killing two. His bail was set at $3 million.
Police say Rashad Charjuan Owens drove through a barrier and into a crowd… (Austin Police Department )

Bail has been set at $3 million for a Texas man accused of drunkenly steering his car into a crowd at the South by Southwest music festival, records show.

Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen was booked into Travis County jail and charged with one count of capital murder, though more charges may be added later, the Associated Press reported. A court date was not immediately available.

Reports indicate Owens -- an aspiring rapper and music producer -- was in town to try and showcase his music, like thousands of other aspiring artists hoping to get noticed.

PHOTOS: Car plows into crowd at SXSW

The Statesman quoted Owens’ brother as saying Owens had planned to perform early Thursday at Club 1808, a mile from the Mohawk club on Austin's Red River Street, where the scene unfolded.

According to police, Owens was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint about 12:30 a.m. Thursday outside the music festival. Police say he fled the checkpoint and drove the wrong way down a one-way street, where he hit Steven Craenmehr of the Amsterdam music booking and promotion agency MassiveMusic. Craenmehr, who was riding a bicycle when he was hit, was pronounced dead at the scene.

MassiveMusic released a statement on its website Friday morning that read: "It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our close friend and colleague Steven Craenmehr, 35, on March 13, 2014 at SXSW. During the 8 years that Steven worked for MassiveMusic, we got to know him as an unstoppable force, full of life, love and laughter.

"This is an irreplaceable loss for the MassiveMusic family and we are grateful for the years we spent with him. Our thoughts are with Steven's family and friends."

Also killed was 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West, who was on a moped when she was fatally struck. West, of Austin, was married and worked as a sales clerk at Leighelena Boutique.

Shon Cook, Jamie's mother, a resident of Garrett, Ind., held back tears when talking about her daughter on the phone.

"She was beautiful and warm," she said. "She was excited about life and art. She loved her family and her family loved her."

On Friday, Austin-area hospital officials said they were still treating eight victims -- including two listed in critical condition.


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Twitter: @josephserna

Times staff writer Gerrick D. Kennedy contributed to this report.

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