Beginning August 5, 2011

A compilation of televised news coverage of the Texas State Capitol shooting on January 21, 2010.

At 12:15 p.m. on January 21, 2010, 24-year-old Fausto Cardenas fired several shots from a small caliber handgun into the air on the southern steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. No motive has been established. He faces charges of a third degree felony: deadly conduct and terrorist threat to a government system. Cardenas had just visited state senator Dan Patrick’s office before the shooting. Patrick, a Republican who represents Houston, said, “The suspect came into my office asking to speak to one of my female staff members. He left and a few minutes later several shots were reportedly fired.” Witnesses told the newspaper they saw a man on the southern steps who was quickly surrounded by the police. “Two guards rushed out. They surrounded this guy,” said Jill Magid of New York. “It looked like a football huddle.” 1

Jill Magid (@jillmagid)— who, oddly enough, was visiting Texas to research snipers — witnessed this mysterious shooting by Fausto Cardenas. Nothing is known of Fausto’s motivations, but his gesture of shooting into the sky from the Capitol steps, in full view of security, reads as a tragic and poetic act. On August 8, 2011, after a year and a half spent waiting in Travis County Jail, Fausto will finally go on trial. Magid, who has been present for each of Fausto’s dockets thus far, will continue to be his witness during the trial, reporting directly from the courtroom in real time via Twitter. Her reporting will weave together the events of the legal proceedings, thematic connections to Goethe’s Faust—the dramatic tale of one man’s fall into immorality—and the media coverage of the shooting. The Twitter stream that is created will become a kind of digital testimony from a witness to an inexplicable crime and the legal system’s attempt to give it closure.

This is the latest chapter in a larger, forthcoming project by Magid, entitled Failed States, inspired by witnessing Fausto Cardenas’ shooting and her Austin-based research into the security measures and survival tactics involved in being an embedded reporter in a war zone.

View a transcript of #FaustosWitness.

1 Paraphrased from reports by The Austin American-Statesman, Fox News, and The Texas Tribune.