Man who was shot, killed during protest in downtown Austin has been identified
AUSTIN, Texas - Sheila Foster has identified the 28-year-old Black Lives Matter protestor shot and killed in Austin, Texas as her son, 28-year-old Garrett Foster.
Sheila tells FOX 7 Austin her son, and his fiancée, Whitney Mitchell participated in Black Lives Matter protests every day for more than a month.
“He wanted to support his fiancée as an African American person.” said Sheila, adding that her son had “a real problem with police brutality.”
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters that the shooting occurred just before 10 p.m. Saturday, July 25. A car turned onto Congress Avenue from 4th Street, merging with protestors marching. The group had a police escort.
When asked why the car drove into the crowd, Manley told reporters he could not disclose that information, as it is part of the department's investigation. Manley said protestors began “striking the vehicle.” He said Garrett approached the vehicle with a rifle.
The driver told police Garrett “pointed [the rifle] at him.” The driver fired several shots at Garrett with a handgun. Garrett was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
SIGN UP FOR FOX 7 AUSTIN EMAIL ALERTS
DOWNLOAD THE FOX 7 AUSTIN NEWS APP
“It’s just completely destroyed my family.” Sheila Foster said of her son's death.
Another protestor witnessed the shooting, and fired several shots at the driver with a handgun, as they drove away.
Manley says the driver called 9-1-1 and “stated they had shot someone who had approached the drivers window of their vehicle and pointed a rifle at them. The caller was instructed to pull over and officers would be dispatched.”
Both shooters were taken into Austin Police custody Saturday night for questioning. Sunday, Manley told FOX 7 Austin the two had been released "pending further investigation."
Sheila says she was worried about her son's safety at protests. Each time Garrett attended a protest he would text her to let her know he was “okay.” “He said ‘mom, I promise you, nothings gonna happen to me.’” she said. She says her son, a former Airman, recently obtained the rifle, and brought it with him to each protest for safety.
“My son would never, ever point a gun at somebody and risk going to jail or getting shot because he wouldn’t want to leave the love of his life helpless like she is now,” Sheila says.
Sheila says her son and Whitney Mitchell met at age 17. By age 18 they were engaged. Mitchell contracted an infection shortly after their engagement that required doctors to amputate her limbs. Garrett became her primary caregiver.
“[The shooter] not only took my son’s life but he put Mitchell in a position where -- she’ll be able to have other people come in and take care of her, but none of those people are gonna love her.”
Sunday evening, Mitchell picked up Saturday's march, where it was cut short --leading marchers from 3rd and Congress, to Austin Police Headquarters. Hundreds of people attended, many holding candles in Garrett's honor.
Garrett's friend, and fellow protestor, Neal Brown brought a rifle to the vigil. He told FOX 7 Austin it was the first time he's brought the gun to a demonstration.
Brown says he has always understood Garrett's rifle could "make him a target." “I told [Garrett] I would back him up -- and I wasn’t there [Saturday] night.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article