After the father of a 10-year-old boy was found fatally shot in a Northeast Austin parking lot on Tuesday, police are asking for the public’s help to figure out who killed him.
Joshua Hardesty, 26, was shot and killed about 3 p.m. at the Heights at Parmer apartments in the 1500 block of East Parmer Lane, Austin police said. Investigators haven’t yet identified a suspect in Hardesty’s death but said they think multiple people shot him.
A reward of up to $1,000 is available for the first person to share information that leads to an arrest. Tipsters can call police at 911 or call Crime Stoppers at 512-472-8477 to leave an anonymous tip, or use the smartphone app “P3 Tips.”
Investigators think the incident was the result of a “drug transaction that went wrong,” Austin police Sgt. Eric De Los Santos said.
“Homicide detectives arrived on scene and encountered several witnesses,” De Los Santos said. “I might note that (witnesses were) rather apprehensive. They’re scared, obviously, so the cooperation kind of varied out at the scene. We’re asking if anyone has any information, or even video, of this incident, to contact us.”
According to Hardesty’s father, Cliff Hardesty, a young boy who was coming home from school witnessed the shooting and recounted seeing several men wearing red shirts and red bandanas get out of a silver Jeep and open fire on Joshua Hardesty.
Joshua Hardesty was the father of a 10-year-old son, Cliff Hardesty said.
Shootings have happened in this area before, most recently on May 4 when a man was shot in the same block but had injuries that were not life-threatening, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services medics said at the time. Nearly a year ago, on Sept. 17, 2017, a shooter killed a man in the 1700 block of Parmer in what police said was a road rage incident.
During Tuesday’s shooting, neighbor Delaney Calloway said he heard multiple gunshots while he was in his apartment. He called a few others who live at the apartment complex before he walked outside to search for the shooting scene.
As Calloway came out, a school bus entered the complex, and he saw a large group of parents waiting to pick up their children, he said.
Calloway said he walked farther north to the complex’s back parking lot and saw the victim lying on the ground.
“It was a surreal scene to see this man just laying there,” Calloway said.
A large white dog lingered next to Hardesty’s body for over an hour after he was shot, and police have since confirmed that the dog belonged to Hardesty.
On Wednesday afternoon, Austin Animal Services was caring for the dog, and police hadn’t yet allowed the animal center to release the dog to family.
Witnesses saw Hardesty’s dog lying down next to him after he was shot. Detectives at the scene scratched the dog behind its ears as they gathered evidence.
“The dog was laying there with his master,” Calloway said.
Mark Sloat, a program manager for Austin Animal Services, said it’s not uncommon for dogs to stick with their owners after they die.
“There’s quite often times when we go in with EMS to remove pets from homes where somebody has passed away, and the dogs don’t want to leave the decedent,” Sloat said. “It’s kind of sad, but they’re loyal to the end.”
Readers ask about dog in photo
Many readers have asked what happened to the dog seen at Tuesday’s crime scene. The white dog, estimated to be a year-old German shepherd-Pyrenees mix who belonged to the shooting victim, was being cared for at the Austin Animal Center, said Jennifer Olohan, an animal center spokeswoman.
Animals, including dogs, cats, reptiles, and birds, are picked up by animal protection officers from crime scenes, after arrests or when a person has had a medical emergency or died, and are taken to the center, Olohan said. From there, the center works to find a family member or friend of the owner who can take in the animal. If no one is available, the animal is put up for adoption, she said.
— Kelsey Bradshaw, American-Statesman