Monday, February 09, 2015

Austin Police Department gives a look at the damage to Air One after deadly weekend standoff

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 Flight officers counted two dozen damage marks to Air One.

Flight officers say the markings look like bullet fragmentation as well as debris from trees as the gunman was shooting up from the trees.

There is damage on the rotor blades and on the side of the aircraft where the co-pilot sits.

Two flight officers were onboard. Police Chief Art Acevedo says those officers made the tactical decision to stay in the air to distract the gunman from shooting at officers on the ground despite the fact that cloud cover prevented them from getting higher than shooting range. Acevedo says the pilots went as far to identify an emergency landing site.

Chief says there is flight video showing the suspect firing multiple shots at the aircraft as well as the moment the swat officer fired the fatal shot at the suspect who Acevedo says was armed with a rifle and a scope.

The aircraft is out of service, but not because of the damage. It is still fly-able. Each marking has been measured and reported to the manufacturer. Repairs should take a full day.

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AUSTIN -- Police on Monday gave an up close look at the Austin Police Department helicopter damaged after a man reportedly shot at it late Saturday night.

Police said AirOne appears to be flyable, however, they're choosing not to fly it until engineers get a better look.

Scratches and dings mark the cowling and the rotor blades also have marks from bullets or debris. Video from the chopper won't be released until the investigation is over, but Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said it shows 27-year-old Sawyer Flache on the ground firing multiple rounds at AirOne.

Acevedo said video from the sniper who killed Flache will also show what happened that night.

"It is very dramatic, and I can tell you that the video shows the suspect come out at the same time of his garage, with a long rifle and a scope. The SWAT officer being a sniper himself understands the capabilities offered with a long rifle and a scope, makes the targeting of our aircraft a lot greater threat," Acevedo said.

Neighbors said they knew Flache as a nice guy and good father to his two girls. The chief said he's also been learning more about Flache after speaking with his father Sunday night.

"I actually talked to his father last night and extended my condolences, and he wanted to extend his apologies to our men and women for what they had to endure," Acevedo said. "But speaking to that father says a lot about the man that was raised, that sadly, was killed over the weekend."

On Monday, investigators went door to door on Pax Drive interviewing neighbors where the fatal SWAT shooting happened over the weekend. Friends of Flache also stopped by his home to pay their respects.

Austin Energy crews also visited to fix street lights. Police said Flache shot them out around 10:30 p.m. Saturday before neighbors called 911 and the SWAT team came on scene.

Austin police have three helicopters in their fleet. One is undergoing engine repairs and can't fly. While the helicopter damaged in the shooting is still flyable, police want to get the damage repaired before it returns to the air.

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