Police have not released details on the criminal background of the gunman who allegedly attempted to set the Mexican Consulate in Austin ablaze and fired more than 100 rounds at downtown buildings before he died. Austin police identified the shooter as Larry McQuilliams, 49. They said he had a criminal record but didn’t elaborate.
Investigators were trying to determine his motives after he began shooting at the consulate, Austin police headquarters, the U.S. courthouse and other locations on Friday. Some of the buildings are near the popular Sixth Street entertainment district, where bars close at 2 a.m., about the same time the shootings began Friday. Police Chief Art Acevedo noted that thousands of people are typically on the street at that time.
“Many, many rounds were fired in downtown Austin,” Acevedo said. “With all the people on the streets, we’re very fortunate. I give thanks that no one but the suspect is injured or deceased.”
Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department issued a statement expressing “profound concern and condemnation” of the attack, but also said “there is no evidence the shots were exclusively directed at our facility.” Acevedo said a sergeant who was holding the reins of two police horses after his patrol shot the gunman just outside the main entrance to police headquarters. But Acevedo said it’s not clear if police fatally shot the suspect or if he took his own life. The entire incident lasted about 10 minutes from the first call, Acevedo said.
Officers approached McQuilliams after he had been shot, but noticed cylinders in his vehicle, which was nearby, and discovered he was wearing a vest they thought may be rigged to explode. Officers retreated and a bomb squad was called. It was later determined the items were not explosive.
The fire at the consulate was extinguished before any significant damage was done to the building. The federal courthouse’s guard house was shot several times, as was police headquarters, which Acevedo said was “extensively damaged.” A police tactical team later went to an Austin apartment complex where McQuilliams lived as precaution.
The FBI was also was participating in the investigation. Officers at the scene were seen removing about a dozen small tanks of propane, the type used in camping and the type police said was used in the attempt to set fire to the Mexican Consulate.