USA TODAY College– May 1, 2017
A knife attack Monday afternoon at the University of Texas-Austin near the student recreation center and the campus library left one dead, according to CBS Austin, and three others with injuries.
Police identified freshman Harrison Brown as the victim at a press conference Tuesday. Two of the other victims have been released from the hospital, according to a UT President Greg Fenves.
Kendrex White, a junior at UT-Austin, was armed with a “large, Bowie-style hunting knife” when arrested and is expected to be charged with murder, according to Austin police.
White studies biology, according to the university directory, and the Austin American-Statesman reports he is a member of the Black Health Professionals Organization student organization on campus.
“He was always the sweetest guy, laughing, and having a good time with people. He and I took IB classes together my junior and senior year so this is definitely a shock,” Angela Bonilla, a UT-Austin student who went to high school with White in Killeen, Texas, told the Killeen Daily Herald.
Authorities are working to understand White’s motivation for the attack. UT police Chief David Carter said at the Tuesday press conference White had been involuntarily committed in another city for mental health issues, Dallas Morning News reports.
The attack happened at 1:46 p.m. local time, in a high-traffic area of campus with many witnesses.
Freshman Rachel Pritchett, an eyewitness to the attacks Monday, told the Austin American-Statesman she heard people screaming and then saw a man holding what “looked like a machete.” She said she ran away after watching him use it to stab another man.
Krishant Dania, another eyewitness, told USA TODAY College he was reading at a picnic table when the attack started. “I heard gasping down the table, and I saw a guy with a bunch of blood going down him,” he said. The freshman immediately went to help. “I went over, and I clamped my hands on him, trying to apply some pressure.”
Looking up, Dania spotted the assailant continuing the attack. “I see a guy walking down with a machete, and he raises up his arm … and he gets a guy in the back of the neck in front of the food trucks,” he said. He says the attacker looked at him briefly and moved on. He seemed calm, according to Dania.
“He was very nonchalant; just chilling, just stabbing people. He was just walking along. He wasn’t acting suspicious. You wouldn’t have known he was up to anything if he didn’t have a huge knife,” Dania said.
Austin emergency services first tweeted about the stabbing at 1:56 p.m. local time.
The Washington Post reported that it took police two minutes to arrive on the scene after receiving the first call, and Austin Police tweeted about it at 2:07 p.m. local time.
Students were not issued an official alert by the university until 2:15 p.m., nearly a half-hour after the incident occurred. Many students and others have criticized the school on social media for its response time.
The university later canceled classes and events for the rest of the day, stressing that no ongoing threat remained.
Facebook also activated a safety check.
“There are no words to describe my sense of loss,” tweeted Fenves.
This attack comes three days after a knife attack at another university, Transylvania University in Kentucky.