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Police arrest suspected carjacker at gas station

Transient is accused of trying to commandeer two vehicles at the Safeway gas station in Hollister

Hollister Police say a 33-year-old transient suspect attempted to carjack two vehicles and fought with their drivers before police arrived and arrested him around 5:10 a.m. on Aug. 18.

Officers were dispatched to the Safeway Gas Station at 591 Tres Pinos Rd. on a report of an attempted carjacking. Dispatchers advised that a man had attempted to carjack two cars and had fought with two drivers. They described the carjacking suspect as a white male adult wearing a long-sleeved sweater and jeans.

The first officer arrived on scene and located a man matching the description, according to a press release. The man quickly approached the officer and told the officer he had a weapon, police said, noting that the officer attempted to search him and he pulled away from the officer and took a fighting stance. The man was tasered when he refused to comply and began to charge the officer with clenched fists.

After a short struggle, the man was taken into custody. He was identified as Austin Downing, 33, a transient with no previous police contacts in Hollister.

Officers later spoke with two victims who described Downing approaching them and opening their car doors and attempting to take their vehicles. In both instances, the victims reportedly fought back against Downing’s attempts. Downing was arrested on two counts of attempted carjacking and one count of resisting and obstructing a police officer.

Anyone having information on this case is asked to call Officer Tong at the Hollister Police Department at 636-4330. Persons wishing to remain anonymous can call the WeTip Hotline at 800-78-CRIME. Information provided to WeTip may qualify for a reward.


Submitted by Kathy Johnson (KJohnson) on

Scary! I probably wouldn't be able to fight the guy off.

Submitted by (Texas Ranger) on

There is so much more to defend yourself with other than your physical abilities and pugilistic skill. The fact he had two attempts to threaten the lives of law abiding citizens and attempt to divest them of their property is very concerning. At most it should be once. Why did not members of the community come to the aid of one of its own? Are the days of community that far gone that we are willing to see the struggle but not assist. Not understanding that today itnisnthem but tomorrow it could be you or god forbid one of your loved ones.

Submitted by (Austin Downing) on

I'm Austin Downing, the one who, "had two attempts to threaten the lives of law abiding citizens and attempt to divest them of their property." I actually walked past three females sitting in their vehicles that morning and pulled the males out of their vehicles in hopes that they would end my life. I didn't even fight back and I told the first guy in the truck to shoot me. The second guy just punched me in the head a few times. Then I just sat on the curb and waited for the police to arrive. I told them I had a firearm when I didn't because I was hoping they would feel threatened enough to shoot me.
I'm not angry at you or anything, you're comment is actually spot on and I'm concerned about the situation myself . My goal is just to clarify what happened and let you know everything isn't so black and white. I've actually contributed a lot in my life, a lot more than I have caused harm.
What happened is that I've spent eight years serving America as a member of the USAF. I did three combat tours and now I have PTSD. Life has been hell for the past few years. I was losing my mind from isolation, insomnia and self medicating. That's a long story short.
Since then I have been improving my life with the VA and cooperating with them and fellow vets on a daily basis. Not even sure why I'm writing this. I guess I just want to put some minds at ease. I've moved far away from Hollister after this incident.

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