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SXSW Crash: 2 dead, 23 injured, but the show will go on

A general view of 6th Street during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival on March 16, 2012 in Austin, Texas.
A general view of 6th Street during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival on March 16, 2012 in Austin, Texas.
Michael Buckner/Getty Images

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A car plowed into a group of people gathered outside nightclubs at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, early Thursday morning, killing two people and injuring 23, with several described as being in critical condition. 

The suspect, identified by police as 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens, is believed to have been intoxicated at the time and allegedly fled a DUI checkpoint. Owens faces two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, according to Austin police.

Owens was first identified by the Austin-based American-Statesman newspaper.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a 2:30 a.m. Thursday news conference that the dead were a woman from Austin and a man from the Netherlands. He did not give the names of the two victims, nor the 23 people who were injured.  

Dr. Christopher Ziebell of University Medical Center-Brackenridge told the Associaated Press that two people are in critical condition, and three others are in serious condition.

"We had a large crowd," Acevedo said at the news conference. "I just thank God that a lot of the folks had already been pushed on the sidewalk, or this could have been a lot worse."

Acevedo said it was an "intentional act" and that formal charges will be filed Thursday afternoon.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said one of two people killed early Thursday was a Dutch citizen riding a bicycle.

Massive Music, a company with offices in Amsterdam, New York and London, told the AP that one of its employees was killed in the crash in Austin and identified him as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr.

"It looked like a war zone, there were seven bodies in that intersection, the next one had four more bodies in it...blood everywhere," facilities manager James Bradford of the Mohawk Bar, where the accident took place, told KPCC.

L.A. hip-hop artist Tyler the Creator was set to perform Wednesday night but canceled his show after the accident. Other artists who are expected to play Thursday told KPCC that they are shaken up from the event. 

"Everyone's just been tweeting they're OK," said Nathan Michel, drummer of the band Hospitality. "I know that everyone is just really down about it, and it's just putting a damper on the feel of the festival. And it should."

Festival managing director Roland Swenson said that, despite the horrific event, the festival will continue as planned. 

"As much as we'd like to go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel our best use is continuing to operate today," he said. 

Musician Eleni Mandell is planning to perform. Based on past experience, and as hard as it might be, she says the shows must go on.

"I actually went on tour two weeks after September 11th, and I remembered in NY, people just thanking me so much for not canceling because people needed to feel uplifted," said Mandell. 

With reporting by Jacob Margolis in Austin and the Associated Press.