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Austin police ID man killed after firing at officers in helicopter

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Austin police ID man killed after firing at officers in helicopter

“Sawyer Flache was a loving father to two beautiful daughters. He lived his life to provide for his girls, and made many wonderful memories that will be cherished. The outpouring of support and love from his friends and family is a testament to his true spirit. He will be greatly missed.”

7 p.m. update: Austin police said it was a single shot taken by Austin police Officer Luke Serrato that ended Sawyer Flache’s shooting spree late Saturday night.

Serrato is a 3-year veteran of Austin police’s SWAT sniper team. He has been placed on leave while the shooting is investigated, as is customary with fatal officer-involved shootings, Assistant Chief Brian Manley said Sunday.

At a news briefing Sunday at Austin police headquarters, the Austin police chief of staff described a scene in which Flache fired multiple weapons.

Austin police were first dispatched to the scene at 10:33 p.m. to a call of shots fired. At 10:52 p.m. Austin police’s helicopter Air 1 arrived.

When patrol officers on the ground arrived, they could hear Flache firing multiple shots. At that time, officers stayed away from the scene while the police helicopter circled above to get visual contact of the shooter, Manley said.

Throughout the incident, officers said they saw Flache walk in and out of a garage multiple times with various weapons. Police would not say how many weapons he had, but did mention the use of a rifle and a shotgun.

At 11:18 p.m., both police on the ground and a tactical flight officer in the helicopter reported the suspect firing the weapon again. It was then that the helicopter began taking fire, Manley said.

At 11:51 p.m., a sergeant on the scene reported multiple shots fired again. At 11:56 p.m., a tactical flight officer reported that he could see Flache reloading a weapon.

At 11:58 p.m., the SWAT team arrived and began to advance on the suspect one minute later. As they neared, officer Serrato saw Flache laying on the ground and aiming a rifle at the helicopter.

“Believing that he was about to again fire at Air 1, putting the lives of the officers inside Air 1 in immediate danger, (Serrato) fired one shot and that shot struck the suspect in this case and fatally wounded him,” Manley said.

Flache was dead before the SWAT negotiators had a chance to communicate with him, Manley said.

After the shooting, the SWAT team prepared to slowly clear Flache’s home when they learned that there were two children inside. Police then quickly moved into the home and found two children, aged 4 and 6, in their beds unharmed, Manley said.

Police could not confirm if the children were Flache’s. Various postings Flache made to the social networking sites Facebook and Instagram showed Flache with two children. His neighbors also said he had two children around the ages of those police found in his home Sunday.

Austin police’s victim services unit is assisting the children, Manley said.

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