Police: UT stabber had mental health issues – USA TODAY
AUSTIN âÂ The student who went on a stabbing spree at the University of Texas at Austin on Monday, killing one student and injuring three others, had previousÂ mental health issues, including being committed to a mental health facility in another city, police said.
The suspect,Â Kendrex J. White, 21, appeared calm as he stabbed one student then another and another as he walked through central campus Monday afternoon and appearedÂ to choose his victims at random, UT Austin Police Chief David Carter said Tuesday.
Police have not found any specific motive for what may have triggered White, he said. He had been “involuntarily committed” to a facility in another city and later released, he said. Carter didn’t offerÂ any further details.
“This was not a conspiracy, not a person who had a vendettaÂ against any particular group,” he said. “HeÂ was obviouslyÂ suffering from some type of particular issue.”
Harrison Brown,, a UT freshman from Graham, Texas, about 80 miles west of Forth Worth, was killed in the attack. Two of the other victims were treated and released from area hospitals, while one remainedÂ hospitalized.
“Today ourÂ hearts are brokenÂ and we have to beginÂ the healing process,” UT Austin President Greg Fenves said.
Just before 1:46Â p.m., White exited the Student Activity Center on campus through a south door and, near Gregory Gym, kicked a woman and stabbed Brown with a large hunting knife, Carter said. Witnesses described White as being calm in demeanor as he strolledÂ southbound on Speedway, a pedestrian walkway that cuts through campus, the large knife at his side.Â He stabbed a student seated at aÂ picnic table in the back of the head, then proceeded down near a food truck, where he stabbed two more students,Â Carter said.
Police confronted the suspect as he entered a dorm building and arrested him. White was arrested within two minutes from when the first call came in at 1:46 p.m., Carter said. White has been booked on aÂ murder charge; additional charges of aggravated assault are being reviewed, he said.
Student Rachel Prichett said she was standing in line at aÂ food truck outside a gym when she saw a man with a knife resembling a machete approach the person standing behind her.
âThe guy was standing next to me,â Prichett said. âHe grabbed him by the shoulder and shoved the knife in it. I just started running as fast as I could.â
The stabbing spree comes just over a year after the killing of Haruka Weiser, 18, a UT freshman theater and dance student from Portland, Ore., who was strangled and sexually assaulted, according to authorities. Her body was found AprilÂ 5, 2016, on the banks of Waller Creek near campus.
That incident spurred calls for increased security at the sprawling campus, including the need for more campus police officers, better lighting and more video surveillance. Some of those initiatives have been started, while others have not.
As Austin reeled from news of Monday’s incident, some students complained onÂ social media that university officialsÂ took too long 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.
Yellow police tape cordoned off a swath of the campus late Monday as police technicians scanned the area of the attack. Students milled around, trying to decide how to cross campus and still absorbing the deadly act that occurred as they emerged from classes or broke for lunch.
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 one of the nation’s most horrific mass shootings in 1966.
The area is also where students often congregate inÂ front of the main library and where a popular food truck serves Korean barbecue.
Calvin Liu, 20, a junior, had just come out of a computer science class at the McCombs School of Business when he saw a stampede of students running away from the scene of the stabbing nearby. He saw one of the bloodied victims slouched on a nearby set of steps and returned to the safety of the building.
âItâs kind of surreal,â Liu said. âIf I was just five minutes earlier, I couldâve been in the middle of that.â
He added: âIâm trying not to think of that.”
Carter urged students to be vigilant of any students showing signs of acute stress and report any troubling signs to a campus hotline.
“Thereâs a lot of stress and pressuresÂ students undergo from time to time,” he said. “It’s important we take care of each other.”
Contributing: Associated Press