AUSTIN, Texas — On the night of July 25, during a Black Lives Matter protest in Downtown Austin, a man died in a shooting. That man was later identified by the Austin Police Department as Garrett Foster.
Who were Foster and his fiancée, the woman seen alongside him in pictures circulating on social media?
In an interview with Good Morning America, Sheila Foster, Garrett Foster's mother, said her son and his fiancée were a constant fixture during Austin's protests.
"They've been participating in these protests almost every day for the past 50 days," Sheila Foster told GMA the day following his death, July 26.
Photos on social media show Garrett Foster, 28, at protests pushing his fiance, Whitney Mitchell, in a wheelchair. Sheila Foster told GMA that the two have been together since they were 17.
PHOTOS: Who are Garrett Foster and Whitney Mitchell?
Sheila Foster said Mitchell went into septic shock when she was 19 and lost all four of her limbs. Sheila Foster said Garrett Foster has been taking care of Mitchell "almost constantly ever since." Garrett Foster was briefly in the military, but got out early because Mitchell was going through depression, Sheila Foster said.
Mitchell's mother, Patricia Kirven, called Foster Mitchell's fifth limb in an interview with KVUE.
"Whitney is not good. Heartbroken is not enough to describe her," Kirven said. "She's just broken because he's been a part of her life for more than 10 years. She lost all four limbs, he was her other limb and they took him away from her."
"I saw my son at 19 years old brush this girl's teeth, comb her hair. He would put her on the toilet and clean her up, and he would make sure that she got bathed and make sure that she was able to get dressed and took her everywhere that she needed to go. And he's been doing that ever since," Sheila Foster told GMA. "They just bought their house in Austin two years ago."
"He even learned to braid her hair!" Kirven said. "You don't see a lot of guys do that. After the Air Force, he came back to Whitney. They were attached at the hip."
Through tears, Sheila Foster said Garrett Foster was "one of the best young men you would ever know."
As soon as Mitchell was able to master her prosthetics and walk down the aisle, the two were planning to get married, Sheila Foster said.
"On top of grieving for my son, I worry about Whitney. Because who's going to do that for her now?" Sheila Foster said. "She just lost the love of her life, because somebody just randomly fired shots and killed my son. And I don't mean to say that anybody else's life is less valuable. I don't believe that. But I don't know why it had to be my son."
Kirven described Foster as a quiet and shy person. As an interracial couple, Foster and Mitchell dealt with racism regularly and that's why they went out protesting, according to Kirven.
"They wanted to give back and help people," Kirven said. "They didn't go there to start any trouble. They went there because they really believed in the cause. They weren't there to destroy statues or property."
Austin police said the shooting happened shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday, July 25, on Congress Avenue. Garrett Foster was carrying a rifle when the APD said he approached the suspect's vehicle. Moments later, the suspect shot out of their car at Garrett Foster after Foster allegedly pointed his weapon at the car, according to APD. Another person is believed to have fired at the car as it drove away.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the two people who fired shots have been released "pending further investigation."
In a video on social media, Foster said he started carrying his AK-47 after his roommate was arrested. He felt authorities were not allowing protesters to march freely, so he wanted to exercise his 2nd Amendment right.
Kirven said he started carrying his gun with him about a month ago. People marching alongside him said the same, adding they felt protected when he was around.
"When he had some of his friends come around too with their guns, we felt safer because it's like we had our own security pretty much," Adam Cartwright said.
Cartwright said he got to know Foster a bit through the protests, exchanging occasional chit-chat and giving some food to the homeless.
"He never would have wanted to hurt anybody, even when he was trying to protect everybody," Cartwright said.
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