AUSTIN, Texas — It was not unusual for Garrett Foster to be at a protest against police brutality on a Saturday night. And it was not out of character for him to be armed as he marched.
Foster was carrying an AK-47 rifle as he joined a Black Lives Matter demonstration blocks from the state Capitol in Austin, Texas. Gun-rights supporters on both the left and the right often carry rifles at protests in Texas, a state whose liberal gun laws allow it.
Foster, wearing a black bandanna and a baseball cap, bumped into an independent journalist at the march Saturday, and he spoke matter-of-factly about the weapon that was draped on a strap in front of him.
“They don’t let us march in the streets anymore, so I got to practice some of our rights,” Foster told the journalist, Hiram Gilberto Garcia, who was broadcasting the interview live on Periscope. “If I use it against the cops, I’m dead,” he conceded.
Later that night, Foster was fatally shot, but not by police. Authorities said he was killed by a motorist who had a confrontation with protesters.
Police and witnesses said the man in the car turned it aggressively toward the marchers, and Foster then approached it. The driver opened fire, shooting Foster three times. He was rushed to a hospital and was later pronounced dead.
Austin’s police chief, Brian Manley, told reporters Sunday that as the motorist turned, a crowd of protesters surrounded the vehicle, and some struck the car. The driver, whose name has not been released, then opened fire from inside the car as Foster approached. Another person in the crowd pulled out a handgun and shot at the vehicle as it sped away.