It’s getting rougher by the minute.

Austin, Texas’ playground: 6th Street, has been a rough and tumble zone for decades with fights, brawls, stabbings and the occasional riot going on to make sure you step lively and watch your back whilst slamming back flaming Dr Pepper shots.

Murder can once more be added to the equation. Preston Joe Sharpnack has been charged with manslaughter, the technical, legal term for his alleged killing of Austin architect Matt Casey. We’re not barristers and when one man kills another we generally refer it as murder. On Labor Day earlier this month, Matt Casey was out for a night on the town in the 6th Street entertainment district. Near the intersection of 6th and Neches, Casey was approached by Sharpnack and an unnamed female, both of whom Austin Police Department now claim, are homeless.

The couple panhandled Casey, a dispute occurred and Sharpnack lashed out. “That’s crazy, I only hit the guy once.” Sharpnack explained, unbidden, when interviewed by APD and informed of Casey’s death. Matt Casey had clung to life for several days before passing away in the hospital.

Preston Joe Sharpnack has a record a mile long: bail jumping,burglary of a building, graffiti, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, failure to appear, criminal trespass and unlawful use of a criminal instrument.

Ruffian.

Back when we were going out 7 seven nights a week, the intersection of 6th and Neches always saw lots of our congress. It marks the halfway point between Hoek’s Pizza and Lovejoy’s, 2 common destinations for discerning food and beverage palates. It’s a hot zone due to its proximity to ARCH {Austin Resource Center For The Homeless} as well as the little quick mart that has always been a magnet for crack cocaine dealers and wayward women of the night.

Need some coke or a blowjob in the alley? The 6th and Neches region has always featured both of these timeless, temporal pleasures.

It’s also deadly.

On a warm spring night in March of 2009. Nikolas Evans is out for an evening on the town with a group of friends. As they walk along Neches, another group approaches and words are exchanged. As the situation subsides, Eric Skeeter, a parolee {burglary} who’d been thrown out of the military, came out of nowhere and blind-sided Evans who fell, hit his head and died.

Yards away from where Casey was killed.

Sixteen hundred police officers range across the city of Austin. How many should be remanded to the 6th Street area each night to ensure that your zest for partying won’t be interrupted with a trip to the hospital or morgue? We’re stunned each time we venture downtown at how many cops are on the street. It looks like a war zone.

Perhaps it’s time to bring in some battle-hardened commanders from New Orleans, Baltimore or Birmingham to take the lay of the land and see what measures should be taken. In these cities officers aren’t overly concerned with jaywalkers {APD wrote over five hundred jaywalking tickets in the past year} they’re more worried with real crime like murders, stabbings and assaults.

Austin’s all grown up now.

The sweet little town that was like an odd combination of Tuscaloosa and Manhattan is having big city problems. While Austin was wearing jorts and playing in a creek bed with a sling shot in her backpocket, major urban centers were learning how to address issues that are just now coming to the garden spot of Central Texas.

Matt Casey was the 23rd homicide of 2012.

Check out Patrick George’s article in the Statesman http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/blotter/entries/2012/09/20/man_charged_with_manslaughter_7.html

and a previous piece from RL Reeves Jr on violence on 6th Street http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2012/7/22/Shootings-Stabbings-Has-6th-Street-In-Austin-Texas-Finally-Earned-The-Sobriquet-Dirty-6th

photo of Sharpnack’s back via Facebook

https://twitter.com/RLReevesJr

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