AUSTIN, Texas — A man stabbed two people, one fatally, inside a restaurant during a violent string of attacks Friday at a shopping plaza in Texas' capital city that began with an assault at a coffee shop and ended with the suspect leaping off a roof, police said.
The attacks on a busy downtown avenue of restaurants and apartments just south of the Texas Capitol terrified customers stopping for their morning coffee on the way to work. It was the city of Austin's first homicide of 2020.
Austin police Sgt. David Daniels said investigators don't know what provoked the suspect from striking a person inside a coffee shop before fleeing and stabbing two people inside Freebirds World Burrito a few doors down. The man, who was not identified, jumped off the roof of the restaurant but survived.
Stacy Romine, 33, said she was getting her drink at Bennu Coffee when she saw the suspect suddenly attack a man who was sitting with a table full of regulars.
“This guy out of nowhere just hit him in the back of the head with something,” Romine said. “People tried to restrain him and stop him from leaving the store after it happened. But he could not be apprehended by three men, including a police officer.”
Daniels said he did not know whether the stabbing victims at Freebirds were employees. None of the victims were identified, but Austin-Travis County EMS said one man in his 20s was pronounced dead at the scene. Daniels said a knife was involved in the attack but did not say whether it came from the restaurant.
After he ran out of the coffee shop, Romine said she saw the attacker jump from the roof of Freebirds and did not move after hitting the ground. Daniels said the suspect was transported to a hospital but did not know his condition.
Daniels praised customers who tried to stop the man at the coffee shop before he fled to Freebirds.
“We don't recommend individuals getting involved in a situation, but they chose to do that, and it was helpful,” Daniels said.
In 2017, one student was killed and three others wounded in a random stabbing attack at the University of Texas campus in Austin. In that case, the assailant was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.