The moment before the fatal shooting of an armed Black Lives Matter protester in Texas over the weekend was revealed in a new-found photo hours after the suspect was released after telling investigators that he had shot the demonstrator for self-defense .
28-year-old Garrett Foster was shot dead in Austin on Saturday evening after confronting the driver of a car that drove his vehicle to a hundred-headed crowd of protesters marching downtown.
Foster, who was carrying an AK-47, was shot three times by the driver, who then fled the scene. The driver later told the police that he fired his pistol at Foster after the activist pointed his assault rifle at his car.
A photo posted on social media on Monday shows Foster at the driver's window just before the fatal shots were fired. The barrel of his AK-47 seems to be pointing to the floor, but he is leaning towards the car with his right arm raised and the car apparently around the weapon.
The police, who refused to identify the driver, released the suspect as she continues her investigation.
"We are broken about the loss of Mr. Foster last night," Brain Manley, Austin police chief, told reporters on Sunday. "It is currently being investigated in collaboration with the Travis County Prosecutor and is continuing."
The officers also brought a second shooter who shot the car as it raced away. Both suspects are licensed to carry and both weapons have been seized for evidence, Manly said.
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A new photo shows Garrett Foster at the driver's window. The barrel of the rifle is aimed at the floor, while his right arm is high and his hand is apparently placed on the handle of the weapon
Protesters say Foster (pictured on the left with Mitchell and on the right along with the night he was killed) tried to protect Mitchell after a car hit her – but the driver claimed he shot after self-defense after Foster had pointed a gun at him
First responders are preparing to take Foster to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead
Whitney Mitchell, 28, led demonstrators of Black Lives Matter in a picket march for Finace Garrett Foster, also 28, who was shot and killed during demonstrations in Austin, Texas on Saturday evening
Mitchell stifled tears as the demonstrators were silent for a moment on the street where Foster was shot dead as he approached the driver of a vehicle that opened fire
Mitchell, who was amputated all four limbs in 2010 after becoming infected with a mysterious virus, was supported by members of the crowd when she held a vigil at the site where Foster died
Other members of the crowd hugged and some burst into tears as protesters sang "Say His Name, Garrett Foster" during Sunday night vigil
Marchers carried "Justice for Garrett" signs and placed them with candles and flowers where he died. The police interviewed the man who shot Foster but released him pending further investigation
Protesters kneel and raise their fists in a silent tribute to Foster, who was fatally shot in downtown Austin on Saturday night
Foster, who had been in the military for a while before becoming his fiancé's caregiver, had been on marches for more than 50 days when he was killed (in the picture, demonstrators honor his memory with a silent tribute).
A protester carries a sign saying "I can't breathe" with a noose around his neck during a vigil for Garrett Foster in Austin
Foster had crossed 4th Street on Congress Avenue with his wheelchair-bound fiancee Whitney Mitchell (28) and hundreds of other demonstrators when a motorist raced toward the crowd and started honking.
Protesters – who have been walking for 60 days – say the car came towards them and Foster tried to protect Mitchell, who remained in a wheelchair after a mysterious infection and forced surgeons to amputate their limbs.
The majority of the demonstrators dispersed, but Foster, wearing a military green t-shirt, baseball cap, headscarf, and AK-47, approached the driver's side window.
Within seconds, the driver of the car fired five shots and raced away from the scene, allowing Foster to bleed to death on the street.
The driver called 911 on his escape and informed the dispatchers that he was "involved in a shootout and left".
Foster, who had not fired his gun, received first aid on site before being taken to Dell Seton Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Foster, who had previously worked as a flight mechanic for the Air Force as a teenager, started dating Mitchell about ten years ago. He only had to go to basic training two months after the amputation of all four limbs after sepsis.
Her friend Foster was released from the air force at the age of 19 to become her full-time advisor.
"This time when he was gone (for basic education) was so harmful to both of them because they were very much in love and he had taken care of them so well," his aunt Karen Sourber told USA Today. "He's been their main guardian ever since. He just loved her unconditionally and took care of everything. & # 39;
Hundreds gathered on Sunday night at the shooting site to mourn Foster's death in a Mitchell-led vigil.
Marchers sang "Say His Name, Garrett Foster" and raised their fists in silent tributes during the vigil, KVUE reported.
Mitchell, who had been engaged to Foster since she was 18, closed her eyes as she held back her feelings and was comforted by other members of the crowd.
Some people hugged and cried when demonstrators blocked the streets with bicycles and cones and distracted traffic.
Others carried signs that read "Rest in Power Garrett Foster" and "Justice for Garrett". They were placed with candles and flowers where he died.
After the vigil, the sea of demonstrators headed for the Texas State Capitol to end the march that had been interrupted the night before.
Foster's mother Sheila said her son had participated in protests against Black Lives Matter for more than 50 days to support African American Mitchell.
She added, "He did it because he felt very strongly about justice and was very strong against police brutality."
Shelia described her late son as "one of the best young men you would ever know" and tearfully shared the unconditional love Foster had for Mitchell.
“I saw my son brushing this girl's teeth and combing her hair at the age of 19. He would put her on the toilet and tidy her up, and he would make sure she was bathed and that she could get dressed and take her wherever she needed to go. And he's been doing it ever since, 'said Sheila.
In addition to the grief for my son, I'm worried about Whitney. Because who's going to do that for them now? & # 39; She continued. "She just lost the love of her life because someone accidentally fired shots and killed my son. And I don't want to say that someone else's life is less valuable. I do not believe that. But I don't know why it had to be my son. & # 39;
Foster had crossed 4th Street on Congress Avenue with Mitchell and hundreds of other demonstrators when a driver hurried to the crowd and started to sound the horn. Mobile phone recordings captured the moment the deadly shots were fired
Whitney Mitchell chokes back tears as she attends a vigil for her fiancee Garrett Foster, who was shot in Austin
Two participants hug at a vigil for Garrett Foster, who was shot after a chaotic argument with a motorist who was said to have driven into the crowd
A woman clutching flowers bursts into tears during a vigil for Garrett Foster in downtown Austin
Protesters raise their fists and a sign that reads "I can't breathe" in homage to Garrett Foster in downtown Austin, Texas
Mitchell contracted the flu in November 2010. However, her condition quickly deteriorated and she ended up in the intensive care unit, where the virus stopped the circulation of her limbs.
The doctors were able to save them, but only after they had amputated all of their limbs to prevent them from becoming septic, the Dallas Morning News reported.
After the operation, Mitchell started sewing as a form of therapy before turning it into a career in which he designed and made clothing. Foster worked full time as her supervisor.
The couple had put the business on hold in the past few weeks, Mitchell's mother Patricia Kirven said so they could take part in the protests.
Shelia Foster, Garrett's mother, said her son had previously served in the military and described him as a social justice man who had peacefully protested with Mitchell almost every night for the past 50 days
Foster has often been armed, which is common in Texas protests because it is an open carry state.
Before being fatally shot, Foster was seen talking to local media about why he was wearing his AK-47.
In a video made by a local independent journalist, he says: "They no longer let us march on the street, so we have to exercise some of our rights."
Brian Manley, Austin police chief, confirmed that Foster was carrying a rifle as he approached the vehicle that contained the person suspected of shooting him.
Manley said the suspect shot out of his car in Foster and then called 911 to report that they shot someone who had a gun pointed at their vehicle.
Investigators heard conflicting reports of what happened next, Manley told reporters on Sunday.
"His report says Mr. Foster pointed the gun straight at him and fired his pistol at Mr. Foster," Manley said of the driver.
However, witnesses told the police that Foster had not threatened the driver with his gun, and insisted that he hold it down before the fatal shot was fired.
"He wasn't aiming the gun or doing anything aggressive with the gun," said Michael Capochiano, a witness to the New York Times. "I'm not sure there was a big exchange of words. It wasn't as if there were verbal arguments. He didn't attack the car."
Sheila Foster, Garrett's mother, said she found out that her son was pushing his fiancee, who uses a wheelchair, through an intersection when the suspect was driving "irregularly" through the crowd.
His sister, Anna Mayo, said that her brother "never pointed a gun at anyone".
& # 39; He always carried his weapons with him. He had a license to carry in Texas – we are an open transportation state, "Mayo continued." He would always exercise his right to carry, but he would never threaten anyone. He was one of the kindest people – that was the whole reason why he was out there. & # 39;
After the vigil, demonstrators continued to march on the Texas State Capitol to end the demonstration, which was interrupted by Foster's death
Protesters march in Texas State Capital in Austin as part of Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have been going on for 60 days
Activists like Whitney Mitchell, Garrett Foster's fiancee in a wheelchair, take part in a seat demonstration in downtown Austin on Sunday evening
People sit on the street at a vigil for Garrett Foster on July 26, 2020 in downtown Austin, Texas
In response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who suffocated when he was arrested in Minneapolis in May, protests against Black Lives Matter have been going on for weeks in cities in the United States.
Since then, they have expanded to call for a comprehensive reform of the U.S. judicial system, including de-funding police services and reinvesting in fighting communities.
Tensions have increased in the past few weeks after the Trump administration deployed federal agents to force demonstrators off the streets, most notably in Portland, Oregon.
Police are currently investigating a gunfight in this city that injured a person after witnesses said a fight between several armed people had broken out.
The Portland Police Department confirmed that two people were detained after the incident and said one person was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
In Alexandria, Virginia, demonstrators flocked to the home of Secretary of State for Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, to decipher the deployment of federal officials in cities like Portland, Seattle, and Oakland.
The protest was organized by ShutDownDC, a group that Wolf considers responsible for the federal agents' actions and demands that they be removed from any city in the United States.
In Seattle, another city with a large presence of federal agents, thousands of people took to the streets of the Capitol Hill neighborhood on Sunday afternoon to protest largely peacefully.
During a Sunday evening march, protesters carry a banner of Back Lives Matter through the streets of Austin, Texas
After a vigil for Garrett Foster in downtown Austin on July 26, 2020, people hold up signs in front of the Austin police
Protesters walk down Austin 7th Street after a Garrett Foster vigil
Tensions between demonstrators and police officers reached a boiling point hours earlier when the latter group retreated to a station after midnight after major demonstrations in the Capitol area.
Some protesters lingered after officials arrived at the department's East Precinct at around 1 a.m., but most cleared out a short time later, according to a video posted online.
During the weekend riots, stones, bottles, fireworks and mortars were fired at the police. Police said they arrested at least 45 people for attacks on officials, disabilities and lack of distraction.
Twenty-one officers were injured, with most of their injuries classified as minor, the police said.
Hundreds of demonstrators have now taken to the streets in Los Angeles to march in solidarity with the people of Portland on Sunday.
The demonstrators carried signs attacking the actions of federal protesters on the ground in US cities, as well as repeated requests to disappoint LA's own police force.
Sunday's march closed a main street in the heart of the city, but remained peaceful as the police kept a safe distance.
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