Attacker kills 1, wounds 3 in stabbings at UT Austin, authorities say

By Jonathan Martinez - Anchor/Reporter

A day after a deadly stabbing on the University of Texas at Austin campus that claimed the life of Harrison Brown and left 3 others students badly injured Monday.

Music played at the UT tower in their honor.

Harrison Brown

“The flowers and such, it's a nice touch. But it's sad that that had to happen,” UT student Jeff Fiori said.

Also on the campus, a memorial of flowers and candles continues to grow  at the spot where the victims were stabbed.

"Today at the University of Texas, we are in mourning and we are hurting as a university community," UT President Gregory Fenves said.

Kendrex J. White, 21, who university police said was responsible for the deadly stabbing and arrested within minutes and is now behind bars.

"We have solid grounds and reason to believe that the individual was suffering from mental health issues,” UT Police Chief David Carter said.

There was no immediate word about a motive.

Student Rachel Prichett said she was standing in line at a food truck outside a gym when she saw a man with a knife resembling a machete approach the person standing behind her.

"The guy was standing next to me," Prichett said. "He grabbed him by the shoulder and shoved the knife in it. I just started running as fast as I could."

Carter described the weapon as a Bowie-style hunting knife. He said the stabbings occurred within a one-block area as the attacker "calmly walked around the plaza."

PHOTOS: Stabbing reported on UT Austin campus

Another student, Ray Arredondo, said he was walking to his car when a mass of students near the gym started running.

"They were just screaming, 'Run! Get out of here!"' Arredondo said.

Brown died at the scene near the gym. The others were taken to the hospital. There were reports of additional victims with non-life-threatening injuries, according to tweets from Travis County Emergency Medical Services.

The attacker did not resist when officers confronted him at gunpoint, Carter said.

Lindsey Clark said she saw the suspect get tackled by police as he was running toward the entrance of Jester Hall, a complex of dormitories and classrooms. She described him as wearing a bandanna and a gray sweatshirt and said he appeared quiet and subdued as police held him on the ground.

[Raw video: UT Austin officials talk about deadly stabbing] 

"You could see and hear people running and screaming, 'There he is!"' before he was tackled by officers," Clark said.

Carter said it would be premature to discuss the suspect's motive and what was going through his mind.

Arredondo later saw what he said looked like CPR being performed on someone outside the front door of the gym. Another student was sitting on a bench being treated for cuts to the head or neck, he said.

Authorities cordoned off the scene as a large contingent of state and local police, including officers in helicopters, swarmed the area.

The University of Texas is blocks from downtown Austin and the Texas Capitol and is one of the nation's largest universities.

Memorial held at UT for student killed in deadly stabbing 

As students start the healing process from the most recent death on their campus, many admit that they're also thinking about the murder of another student in 2016.

Haruka Weiser's body was found in a creek near the school's alumni center, and a suspect was later arrested in the case.

 “As a community, we're going to get through it last year. Same thing last year over again, just a different person. Sad to say it, but it seems to be nothing new,” UT student Chaz Nungaray said.

Students said they'll come together and keep going on.

 “You can't let these things stop us or hinder us,” Nybgaray said. “You've got to keep going and pushing and fighting. Not that we need to get over it because you'll never get over it but you need to push forward.”

Former classmates said White was 'interactive, easygoing'

White was an active member of the campus Black Health Professionals Organization for students, said Melody Adindu, the group's president. She said White was passionate about his work and was "very interactive and easygoing."

Some of White's former classmates at Killeen High School, which is located near the gates of the Fort Hood Army post in Central Texas, had similar recollections of him.

TWEETS SHOWN BELOW MAY BE GRAPHIC IN NATURE:

"He was a really smart guy in high school, he was always nice, had plenty of friends, and was in the International Baccalaureate program. I'm definitely surprised he would do this," Kay'Lynn Wilkerson told the Killeen Daily Herald.

Ex-classmate Angela Bonilla called White "the sweetest guy, laughing and having a good time with people".

Adindu and other students complained on social media it took too long for the campus officials to send a text alert of the attack. Texts to students showed a nearly 30-minute lag between the arrest and warning, even though city and county emergency offices were tweeting about the incident when they first responded.

Carter said White was confronted and arrested within two minutes of the first call to police and the situation was immediately under control. The campus siren wasn't used because there was no need for a lockdown to keep people in place, he said.

"There was no ongoing threat. We had him in custody as soon as we arrived," Carter said.

The attack occurred in the central campus, just a short walk from the administration building and the landmark clock tower that was the scene of a mass shooting in 1966.

The stabbings came only a few days after a 19-year-old man armed with a machete wounded two people at a university coffee shop in Lexington, Kentucky.

In the April 28 attack, the assailant at Transylvania University asked about the political affiliations of people at the shop. He was arrested and charged with assault. The victims' wounds were not life-threatening, authorities said.

A message was sent to the UT community from President Fenves:

"Dear UT Community:

"Tonight, I write to you with a very heavy heart.

"As I wrote earlier, there was a horrific act of violence that took place at the center of our campus this afternoon. Four UT students were attacked. One student was killed and three other students sustained injuries. University officials have reached out to their families to provide support. Two of the victims have since been released from the hospital.

"A suspect, who is also a UT student, was apprehended within minutes of the attack and is in police custody.

"I ask that our entire community come together to support the victims and their families. They are suffering, and we all must be there for them. Preparations are underway for a gathering to honor the victims that will be held in the coming days.

"There is a great deal of fear on campus and in our community. That fear is very understandable, especially in light of recent vandalism and threats against students. Like you, we are following the rumors and reports circulating on social media. The UT Police Department, the Austin Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety are continuing to investigate all reports and do not believe that there are any further threats at this time. As a precaution, law enforcement agencies — UTPD, APD and DPS — have increased patrols on campus and west of campus. As always, if you see anything suspicious please call 911.

"Many students and parents are frustrated with how long the university took to notify them of today’s attack. I understand those frustrations, and I am committed to faster notification in the future.

"Classes and events will be held tomorrow. And I know that it will be a very difficult day for everyone on the Forty Acres, so please, be there for one another. The UT Counseling and Mental Health Center has extended its hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Wednesday. For more information about student support services, click here.

"Once again, please keep your thoughts and prayers with the victims and their families during this very difficult time."

University of Texas Student Government statement on campus tragedy:

"Today, the Longhorn community mourns the unimaginable loss of one of our fellow students and the injury of three others. Our hearts are with the family, friends, and loved ones of the victims and those who witnessed the attack. This senseless tragedy has left our community shaken. We encourage Longhorns to come together and support each other during this extremely difficult time. Student Government (SG) was established in 1902 to serve as the official voice of the student body at The University of Texas at Austin. All students - including undergraduate and graduate students - are members of Student Government. SG represents the student body to the administration of the University, to the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System, to the City of Austin, to the Texas Legislature and to the US Congress."

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