It has been several days since armed Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster, 28, was shot and killed during Saturday night protests in Austin, Texas, and yet details about the incident remain elusive.
A host of speculative information and conflicting reports have emerged following Foster’s death, leaving Americans to wonder who was actually at fault in the killing.
Here’s what we do know
Foster was carrying: On the night that he was shot, Foster was brandishing an AK-47-type rifle, which is legal under Texas’ open carry law. Video captured live on Facebook by journalist Hiram Gilberto and posted later to Twitter shows Foster explaining his reasoning for carrying the weapon.
“They don’t let us march in the streets anymore, so I got to practice some of our rights,” Foster said.
When Gilberto asked Foster if he felt like he would need to use it, Foster responded: “No … if I use it against the cops, I’m dead … and I think all the people that hate us … are too big of p***ies to stop and actually do anything about it.”
Austin Police Association President Kenneth Casaday tweeted that the interview proves Foster “was looking for confrontation and he found it” on Saturday night.
There was an altercation between Foster and a driver: Some sort of altercation occurred between Foster and a person driving a vehicle with a concealed handgun near a crowd of protesters Saturday night on Congress Ave. and Fourth St., resulting in Foster’s death.
According to KTVT-TV, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that after the shooting, the driver called police to report the incident. The driver was reportedly taken into custody to be questioned but was later released. Manley did not release the driver’s name.
Manley indicated that officers in the area heard “two separate volleys of gunfire” and made their way to the crowd, where they found Foster suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
Foster was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police say there was a third participant: Manley reported that a second shooter, who allegedly fired at the vehicle as it sped away, was also taken in for questioning and later released. That individual’s name has also not been released.
Both the driver and the second shooter possessed concealed handgun licenses, police said. Those handguns as well as Foster’s rifle have been secured as evidence.
A video of the incident first streamed live by Gilberto has been published on social media. In the video, you can see a crowd of protesters marching in an intersection before five shots clearly ring out, followed by three shots shortly after. Then you can see police and first responders tending to an individual lying in the street.
Garret Foster Shot Dead During Protest in Austin, Texas
Here’s what we don’t know
In short, we don’t know the precise details of what happened during the altercation between Foster, the driver, and the third participant, or what exactly prompted the shooting.
Witnesses reported to the Austin American-Statesman that the driver “appeared to drive into the crowd and came to a stop when the vehicle hit a temporary barrier erected to block traffic.” At that point, they allegedly say, “several protesters, including Foster, approached the car and Foster had his weapon pointed down.”
The driver and several other witnesses reportedly told police that Foster pointed his gun at them threateningly as he approached the vehicle and so the driver responded with force.
What is unclear is whether the driver was driving into the crowd with intent to harm protesters or whether the driver was simply attempting to push through the traffic barricade to find a way out.
When asked for more information on this by the outlet, police officials said that the investigation is ongoing and that they’re “encouraging anyone who might have information or video/photos to come forward.”
Some on social media originally surmised that Foster may have been the first to fire because the first five shots in the video sound like AK-47 rounds, while the final three sound more like a handgun. But that would likely only be possible if the second shooter was lying about his or her involvement, and also at this point, most witness testimony doesn’t seem to corroborate that account.
In an interview with “Good Morning America” on Sunday, Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, said her son and his fiancé, Whitney Mitchell, had been attending protests in the city almost every day for the past 50 days.
Sheila Foster said she was told that her son had been pushing Mitchell, a quadruple amputee, in her wheelchair as the driver “erratically” approached the intersection.
“And this gentleman got out of his car and started firing shots, and my son was shot three times,” she alleged.
Manley told reporters that witnesses who spoke to police reported “several different versions of the incident.”
Watch Police Chief Manley’s press briefing on the incident here: