An attempt by Austin, Texas, officials to serve a search warrant and provide lawn care resulted in shots fired, an hourslong standoff, a house fire and a death, police said Wednesday.
Police officers and code enforcement officers arrived at a home at 9:16 a.m. to serve a nuisance search warrant, but could not make contact with the resident, Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said at an evening news conference.
The warrant was left at the door and contractors for the city’s code enforcement began working on the lawn. About an hour later, the resident started shooting from inside the house, Chacon said.
“And they immediately backed off. They got all of the staff that was working on the house to safety and and a SWAT call was initiated for a barricaded subject,” he said.
SWAT, mental health officers and a crisis negotiator arrived on scene, but could not get the man out of the home, leading to the lockdown of a nearby elementary school and the closure of several streets.
“SWAT spent the next several hours trying to negotiate with the individual to just simply come out of the house,” Chacon said.
At about 3 p.m., the resident started shooting at officers again. “And because of that immediate threat … they made entry using a robot,” Chacon said.
The robot helped officers determine that a fire had been started in the home, and was quickly spreading, he said. Officers still couldn’t get the man to come out of the house as it became fully engulfed in flames.
But then the man exited through the garage with weapons in his hand. “At that time, a SWAT officer shot and struck the resident who went down with a gunshot wound,” Chacon said.
Officers got the man away from the house and treated him before he was taken to a hospital, where he died. It’s unclear what caused his death.
The fire was eventually put out, and the school lockdown was lifted.
The SWAT officer who shot the man will be put on administrative duty during investigations into the incident, Chacon said. The officer has been with the department for eight years, according to the chief.
The resident of the home has not been identified. Austin Police spokesperson Jose Mendez said he was a white man in his 50s.
Mendez said the department had made previous welfare visits to the home, but were never able to communicate with him. Officers were in touch with his family during Wednesday’s standoff.
Their main goal Wednesday was to get the man in compliance with the local homeowners association.
“They attempted to cut the lawn for him, and this is the reaction they got,” Mendez said.