Police thought East Austin shooting in March was ambush, affidavit says

Several Austin police officers said they thought they were going to die when a gunman unleashed a hail of bullets in their direction in East Austin in March, according to court documents filed last week.

A group of officers were conducting a traffic stop investigation near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Chicon Street around 2:48 a.m. on March 4 when they heard gunfire coming from a Shell station nearby, police said in an arrest affidavit filed on April 12.

After the first shots were fired, one of the officers spotted two men running away and chased them down to question them.

The affidavit said the men obeyed the officer’s commands and raised their hands, but a second volley of gunfire began streaking through the air over the officers’ heads.

Two of the officers hit the ground to avoid being struck, while others took cover.

A sergeant at the scene saw muzzle flashes coming from the gas station, he said in the affidavit, and could hear bullets whizzing above his head.

According to the report, the sergeant told a fellow officer that “in his 20 years that this was the closest to dying that he’s felt as an officer. (The Sergeant) also stated that he felt the officers under his supervision that night were going to get hurt or possibly die due to the gunfire.”

Another officer who was in his patrol vehicle when the shooting started said he was sure they were being ambushed because of the amount of gunfire. All the officers were in full uniform at the time, and the lights on some of their vehicles were flashing.

When the shooting finally stopped, one of the officers found that one of the two men he had approached after the first few shots had been hit in the arm.

Investigators pulled surveillance footage from the Shell station. According to the affidavit, the video showed the wounded man draw a handgun and shoot at a group of men standing around a Corvette at the gas station. 

After he fired, the group of men also pulled out guns and fired at him as he ran toward the officers.

A witness told police that he knew one of the men in the group that fired their weapons as “Chase.” Investigators later identified that person as Chase Collins, 24.

Collins was arrested on an unrelated charge of driving with a suspended license after police identified him as a suspect in the shooting.

Investigators brought him to Austin police headquarters for questioning, and he admitted to being involved.

Collins told police he fired at a man who shot at him first, and that he didn’t know exactly how many rounds he shot.

Police said several pedestrians were in the area along with vehicles that sped away after the shooting, in addition to the officers.

Collins has been charged four counts of aggravated assault against a public servant, and one count of deadly conduct. He was in Travis County Jail on Monday with bail set at a combined $350,000.

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