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Man who fatally shot Austin protester identified as Army sergeant from North Texas

Daniel Perry was driving for a ridesharing company last weekend when, his attorney said, he shot protester Garrett Foster "to protect his own life.”

Updated Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. with information about Daniel Perry’s ride sharing job and current location and at 11:35 a.m. with information about tweets Perry sent prior to the shooting incident, Perry’s military background and Perry’s 2005 criminal case.

AUSTIN — A Dallas attorney representing the man who shot protester Garrett Foster has identified his client as Daniel Perry, an Army sergeant from North Texas who was driving for the ride sharing company Uber just before the deadly incident last weekend.

Austin police did not confirm that Perry was the shooter.

Attorney F. Clinton Broden emailed media outlets Friday naming Perry as his client. On Saturday evening, Broden said, Perry had just dropped a passenger off near Congress Avenue in downtown Austin and was heading to wait for more clients when he encountered the group of protesters.

“Prior to arriving at the corner of Fourth Street and Congress Avenue, Sgt. Perry did not know that a demonstration was taking place,” Broden said. “An individual carrying an assault rifle, now known to be Garrett Foster, quickly approached the car and then motioned with the assault rifle for Mr. Perry to lower his window. Sgt. Perry initially believed the person was associated with law enforcement and complied with the command.”

Broden said Perry fired his handgun “to protect his own life” after Foster raised his assault rifle toward him.

But Austin police said accounts of what led up to the shooting that night vary.

Just before 10 p.m., witnesses told police, a car turned down Congress Avenue and the driver started honking his horn. The driver stopped in the street, and Foster, who police say was carrying an AK-47-style rifle, approached the car as others began hitting it.

The driver shot at Foster from inside his car. After driving away, he called police to report the shooting, police said. The driver told police he opened fire after Foster pointed his rifle at him.

Protesters say Foster did not point his gun at the driver.

Many ride sharing companies, including Uber, strictly forbid drivers from carrying guns while working. Broden told The News that his client was not aware of these policies. Uber did not respond to requests for comment about Perry’s time driving for the company.

Broden said Perry has been cooperative with police and expressed sympathy toward Foster’s family but said “that does not change facts” that his client “reasonably perceived a threat to his life.”

Attempts to reach Perry and his family were unsuccessful.

Sheila Foster, Garrett Foster’s mother, told The Dallas Morning News on Friday that she was glad to know who shot her son.

“This man needs to go to jail for the rest of his life,” she said. “If I could have been there to take those bullets in his place I would have. My son was a better man than most, and if he hadn’t been there, there’s no telling how many lives this evil man would have taken because he went there intent on hurting people.”

Foster said her son cared for his fiancée, Whitney Mitchell, who is a quadruple amputee and uses a wheelchair, for 10 years.

“When you can do these things like my son did, you can tell me what a bad man you think he was,” she said.

Garrett Foster and Mitchell met in North Texas as teenagers. About two years ago, they moved to Austin, where Foster was Mitchell’s caretaker and she designed and sewed clothing. The couple had attended the protests against police violence for several weeks.

Sheila Foster also referenced tweets Perry appears to have sent in the months before the incident in which he expressed opposition to the anti-policy violence protests. In June, President Donald J. Trump tweeted about “protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes” headed to his rally in Oklahoma. Perry appears to have responded, tweeting, “Send them to Texas we will show them why we say don’t mess with Texas.”

The News has not independently verified these tweets, re-published online by a site called “Tribune of the People.” But in a response to The News, Perry’s attorney defended the tweets.

“They were his tweets two months previous vocalizing his support of President Trump against VIOLENT protests,” Broden said. “He in no way condemns peaceful protests. In fact, his job for the last eight years was to defend our constitution and part of that constitution includes the First Amendment right to peaceful protests.”

Whitney Mitchell, the fiancee of Garrett Foster, joins hundreds of people for a vigil in memory of Foster on Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Police have identified Foster as the armed protester who was shot and killed by a person who had driven into a crowd at a demonstration Saturday against police violence. (Ana Ramirez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Whitney Mitchell, the fiancee of Garrett Foster, joins hundreds of people for a vigil in memory of Foster on Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Police have identified Foster as the armed protester who was shot and killed by a person who had driven into a crowd at a demonstration Saturday against police violence. (Ana Ramirez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)(Ana Ramirez)
Whitney Mitchell and Garrett Foster, both 28, pose for a picture provided by Mitchell's mother Patricia Kirven. Kirven and Sheila Foster, Garrett Foster's mother, say he was shot and killed at a protest in Austin, Texas on Saturday, July 25, 2020. Mitchell, a quadruple amputee, was not physically hurt.
Whitney Mitchell and Garrett Foster, both 28, pose for a picture provided by Mitchell's mother Patricia Kirven. Kirven and Sheila Foster, Garrett Foster's mother, say he was shot and killed at a protest in Austin, Texas on Saturday, July 25, 2020. Mitchell, a quadruple amputee, was not physically hurt.(Courtesy of Patricia Kirven / Courtesy of Patricia Kirven)

Perry is an active-duty sergeant in the Army at Fort Hood, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Brautigam confirmed. Perry enlisted in 2012, Brautigam said, and has deployed to Europe and Afghanistan. Broden said Perry is currently restricted to base “for his own safety.”

Broden acknowledged that Perry had been charged with domestic violence when he was 18. Perry was not convicted, his lawyer said, but was given deferred adjudication. Broden said the incident involved a fight with his sister on a school bus.

“The driver called police and the police had a policy that they had to arrest one or the other,” Broden said. “He was put on deferred adjudication which he successfully completed more than a decade ago. His sister fully supports him with regard to the events in Austin.”

In a statement Friday, the Austin police homicide unit said it was still investigating and urged anyone with video or photos to come forward. The police also said they did not “condone the publication of unconfirmed names.”

“This incident is of immense importance to our community and has generated questions that deserve answers,” the department said in a statement. “We have not released any suspect or witness information during this active investigation. This is done to minimize external influence that could obstruct witness and suspect testimony and impede future legal proceedings.”

Lauren McGaughy. Lauren is an investigative reporter based in Austin where she focuses on government accountability, criminal justice and LGBTQ issues. Before joining the investigative team, she covered Texas politics for The News and Houston Chronicle, and Louisiana politics for The New Orleans Times-Picayune. She loves cats and comic books and cooks a mean steak.

lmcgaughy@dallasnews.com /laurenrmcgaughy @lmcgaughy Instagram Iconhttps://www.instagram.com/laurenmcgaughy/ LinkedIn Iconhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-mcgaughy-05b49812/

Catherine Marfin, Breaking News Reporter. Catherine covers breaking news at The Dallas Morning News. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied journalism and public relations. While at UT, Catherine served as managing editor of The Daily Texan, UT's student paper, and interned at the Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle.

catherine.marfin@dallasnews.com @catherinemarfin
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