Overdose Surge in Austin: Multiple Deaths & 70+ Incidents Linked to Person of Interest

Austin, Texas – Following a surge in overdoses in downtown Austin, law enforcement officials have detained two individuals as persons of interest in connection with the incidents. The Austin Police Department and Austin-Travis County EMS are actively investigating the sudden increase in overdoses that occurred this week.

Responding to suspected overdose calls beginning at 9 a.m. on April 29, APD officers and ATCEMS personnel were dispatched to various locations in downtown Austin throughout the day. The authorities noted that the incidents were clustered within a few blocks of each other, prompting a swift response to the emerging crisis.

Two individuals were taken into custody by APD in relation to the series of overdoses that occurred on Wednesday. One of the detained individuals, identified as Johnny Lee Wright, aged 55, faces charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, classified as a third-degree felony.

In efforts to combat the overdose surge, ATCEMS announced the conclusion of the rising number of incidents. From Monday through Friday, a total of 79 suspected overdose cases were reported, resulting in nine fatalities and the distribution of 438 doses of Narcan, the overdose-reversal drug.

The investigative process leading to the identification of the persons of interest involved the utilization of the APD Real Time Crime Center’s High Activity Location Observation (HALO) cameras positioned in over 40 locations downtown. The HALO cameras, equipped with high-resolution imagery and powerful zoom capabilities, captured interactions between the suspects distributing narcotics to individuals who subsequently suffered overdoses.

The affidavit indicates that based on the HALO footage, law enforcement officers recognized Wright and the other individual as suspects known to frequent the downtown area as narcotics dealers. Wright, with a history of multiple felony convictions, was highlighted for previous illegal possession of a firearm. The second individual, whose identity remains undisclosed by the police, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance following the investigations.

As of Friday, Wright remained in the Travis County Jail on a $10,000 bond, according to online court records. The ongoing investigation seeks to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the overdose surge and the roles played by the individuals of interest in the distribution of narcotics leading to multiple overdoses and fatalities in downtown Austin.