Man Kills Two Hostages, One Police Officer

Austin Interim Chief of Police Robin Henderson
Screengrab of Austin Interim Chief of Police Robin Henderson as she provides a briefing on incident | Image by Austin Police Department/Facebook

The Austin Police Department is investigating a hostage incident from early Saturday morning that resulted in the deaths of two hostages and one police officer.

Officers responded to a 911 call in the 9300 block of Bernoulli Drive around 3 a.m., according to KXAN.

Austin Police Department’s interim chief, Robin Henderson, said that “a caller was screaming for help” over the phone, saying that “somebody was stabbing her.”

Officers arrived at the scene and found an injured victim who said that there were still two more people inside the residence with the suspect, reported ABC News.

“As the officers entered, they were fired upon by the suspect,” said Henderson, per KXAN.

“The officers then backed out of the residence and did not return fire at that time,” added Henderson. The SWAT team was subsequently called to the scene.

Montana Jones, who lives behind the house, recalled the incident, saying that SWAT officers asked to use her residence due to the proximity to the incident.

“We get a knock on the door,” she told KXAN. “A police officer saying, ‘We’re gonna have SWAT coming through shortly. Can we use your backyard?’”

Henderson said SWAT officers then forced entry into the suspect’s house, which led to an exchange of gunfire.

“As SWAT officers entered, the suspect immediately fired his gun at the officers, and the SWAT officers returned fire,” she said at a news conference, per USA Today.

Two officers and the suspect were hit during the gunfight. The officers were immediately taken to a hospital. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

One of the officers is currently in stable condition, however, SWAT officer Jorge Pastore, who joined the department in 2020, died from his injuries.

Additionally, officers found “two apparent victims of the suspect” with fatal injuries inside the residence, according to USA Today. The names of the victims have not been released as of Monday, November 13.

Henderson posted on social media on Saturday, asking people to “[c]ontinue to keep the Pastore family and our second Officer injured in your prayers.”

“My heart is heavy today. Please help me and our APD family pay tribute to SPO Jorge Pastore for his brave & heroic actions. Sir, we’ll take it from here,” she wrote.

Many officials have voiced their support for Pastore’s family, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who said, “This tragedy is a reminder of the great risks and selfless leadership our law enforcement officers exercise every day to serve and protect their communities.”

Dennis Farris, president of the Austin Police Retired Officers Association, said that Pastore’s “whole career, his whole life was ahead of him.”

“We truly are worse off today because he’s not with us anymore. Austin has lost a true hero,” Farris added, per USA Today.

A vigil was held outside Austin City Hall on Sunday, where hundreds of people gathered to honor Pastore, according to CBS News.

Vigil attendees were also invited to sign a “Get Well Soon” card for the officer in the hospital.

Despite the weekend’s events, Austin has typically been known to have a relatively low violent crime rate, unlike in Dallas, where murders are currently on the rise.

According to the City of Dallas crime overview dashboard, murders are up by more than 14% year over year as of November 12, with incidents jumping from 192 to 219. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, murders have been disproportionately affecting communities of color in Dallas.

The Dallas Police Department has been short-staffed, operating with a force of under 3,200 officers. A City analysis recommends that a city the size of Dallas should have about three officers on staff for every 1,000 residents, putting an ideal staffing level at around 4,000 officers.

The shortage has been felt in Downtown Dallas, which regularly logs higher crime rates than Fort Worth’s downtown area. A dedicated police unit patrols the latter alongside private security guards.

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