A teenager who authorities say fatally shot himself while in police custody in downtown Austin on Sunday afternoon was not properly searched before he was taken into custody, according to multiple police sources familiar with the investigation.
A spokesman for the teen’s family on Monday confirmed his identity as Zachary Khabir Anam, 19. Members of Anam’s family declined to comment on the incident.
Anam, 19, had been arrested Sunday atBarton Creek Square mall in Southwest Austin on charges of possession of a controlled substance and shoplifting, according to Austin police. He was being taken to police headquarters in downtown Austin for fingerprinting when he pulled a gun from his waistband and threatened to take his own life, police said.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said Anam was captured on the patrol car’s interior camera at some point during the roughly 5-mile journey telling the arresting officer he had “suicidal ideations.” Anam drew the weapon after the officer asked him if he had the means to injure himself, and he held it to his head, Manley said.
The officer and Anam then stopped near the corner of Fifth and Lavaca streets. The officer reported what was happening over the radio and began giving commands to Anam to put the gun down.
Police backup arrived and cleared the area. A few minutes later, Anam fired one round.
He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge in critical condition, and he died of his injuries.
Three sources with knowledge of the investigation said the arresting officer did not conduct a thorough pat-down of Anam because Anam had already been handcuffed by mall security.
Manley declined to discuss specifics in the case but said the officer still would have had a duty to pat down the man even though he received him from other officers.
Court records show that Anam and three others were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity last year after a rash of vehicle and residential burglaries in Southwest Austin, spanning from late March to early May.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed May 23, 2016, Anam and three other suspects engaged in a “prolific and devastating property crime wave” that involved a vehicle theft, multiple vehicle burglaries and attempted burglaries of residences.
The affidavit said the crime spree began late on March 28 or early on March 29 with the burglary of a Mercedes and theft of a black Chevrolet Suburban in the 10500 block of Walpole Lane.
A similar Suburban was spotted during a slew of robberies April 4-5 in and around the Circle C neighborhood. Investigators found the vehicle April 14 and impounded it as evidence.
More robberies occurred May 2-3, the affidavit said.
An individual with knowledge of the incidents eventually came forward and identified Anam as one of the men involved.
In 2016, Anam also faced a charge of possession of a controlled substance and an earlier charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon after police said he robbed a man during a handgun purchase in February.
Records from the Travis County clerk’s office also show two misdemeanor charges of burglary of a vehicle and one for possession of a prohibited weapon.
Police said the officer who was driving the patrol car is an 11-year veteran of the department. A second officer who was following in another car has been with the department for seven years, according to police. Neither of the officers has been identified.
Manley said the Police Department’s internal affairs officers are investigating the incident.