The University of Texas at Austin resumed classes Tuesday as students began planning a memorial for a freshman who was killed in a violent attack on campus Monday.
“Today our hearts are broken,” Gregory L. Fenves, the president of the state flagship university, said in a news conference Tuesday.
Harrison Brown, a freshman from Texas who loved music, was killed in the attack. Three other students were wounded in the stabbing.
The suspect, Kendrex White, who is also a student at UT, was taken into custody within minutes, police said. They said they think the attack was an isolated incident.
“This was not a conspiracy,” University of Texas Police Chief David Carter said. “This was not a person that had a vendetta.” Police have not found any evidence that he was targeting a specific group or type of people, or that he was part of some larger plan, he said.
White will be charged with murder and will face other charges, as well, Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley said Tuesday.
Carter said that White has mental health issues and that he had recently been involuntarily committed.
Fenves said that police patrols have been increased on campus and that there was no apparent connection between the attack and another incident on campus Monday afternoon in which a student apparently was stabbed during a fight. Manley asked for witnesses to that latter incident — in which a female student may have been assaulted or harassed — to come forward to help police piece together what happened.
Carter said police responded in less than two minutes after getting the call about people being attacked, and that the swift response probably saved lives. He described White as moving apparently calmly through the crowd, stabbing someone, then walking to a picnic table where he stabbed someone in the head, walking toward a food truck, stabbing two more people, then heading toward a dorm, where officers stopped him.
The Daily Texan, the student newspaper, reported witness accounts of the confusion and horror that followed:
Krishant Dania, psychology and government freshman, said he was sitting outside of Gregory Gym when he saw one of the victims and ran over to help.
“I clapped my hands over his wound,” Dania said. “I told people, ‘Run, he has a knife!’ And everyone looked at me like I was stupid, and then I was like, ‘Get out of here,’ and then everyone ran. Then it was just me, the guy who I was helping and the guy with the knife. (White) kind of looked at me, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m gonna die.’ Then (White) just kept walking toward Speedway.”
The Graham Independent School District in Texas posted a notice grieving the loss of Brown, who graduated from the high school in 2016.
Social media was full of tributes to Brown and prayers for the family. “Beautiful voice, beautiful person, beautiful spirit gone too soon. Rest easy Harrison Brown,” one man wrote.
My heart breaks for Harrison Brown's family..never thought this would happen on UT's campus. He was devoted to being a longhorn . God bless.
— Che (@ChelseaJonay) May 2, 2017
A video of Brown singing was widely shared. Brown’s school district asked people to wear orange Tuesday in his honor.
A memorial fund for his family had raised almost $66,000 in a matter of hours Tuesday.
— TEXAS (@UTProbs) May 1, 2017
Fenves said that students were planning a memorial service for Brown, at which time the school’s iconic tower would be darkened.
Two other students wounded in the attack have been released from a hospital.
On Monday night, Fenves sent a message asking community members to support one another. He also wrote that he understood students’ and parents’ frustrations over the time it had taken for the university to notify them about the attack, and pledged to provide information more quickly in the future.
Flowers are being placed near the site of yesterday's on-campus stabbings. pic.twitter.com/u6PD2pcSFP
— The Daily Texan (@thedailytexan) May 2, 2017
On Tuesday evening, he wrote about Harrison Brown.
Dear UT Community:
As we try to understand yesterday’s tragic events, we mourn the death of a young, first-year UT student, Harrison Brown. I met with his mother Lori and brother John this morning, and they spoke to me of their beloved Harrison.
They told me about Harrison’s passion for music and how he loved being a Longhorn. They told me that he had an incredible voice, and after speaking with housing staff, I learned that many in Jester East got to know him by hearing his music from a distance, then stopping to listen. Harrison sang everywhere — in stairwells, bedrooms and hallways. His voice was magical, and his gifts and talents touched students throughout campus.
Just last week, a fellow Jester East resident tweeted, “There is a guy that always sings U smile … when I pass by & it makes me smile.” That was Harrison Brown.
The Browns have lost a brother and a son, and our entire community will be there to support them. We will honor Harrison and all of the victims of the attack by gathering on the Main Mall tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Earlier today, I met with student leaders to discuss ways that our community can come together during this difficult time. We talked about safety, communication and community among other significant topics.
Also, as I walk around campus today, I am speaking with students to listen to their individual concerns. I want to hear how you feel. I want to see your faces. And I want to better understand the impact of this tragic event, and to listen to the positive steps that you believe we can take to make improvements.
The events of the past day are a reminder of how diligent we must be in communicating accurate information in the age of social media. We were too slow to let the entire campus know about the stabbings after they happened. And UT Police were too quick to report there was no threat west of campus because, as we learned later that evening, an incident had taken place.
Students rely on us to make decisions for their safety and well-being, and we need to do better. We will do better.
A day ago, we lost Harrison Brown. The sadness and pain that comes with the death of this young student is immeasurable, and it will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Now is a time to grieve for Harrison, for his parents, family and friends. But it is not a time to give in to divisiveness, or to give up on the dream of this university.
We are Longhorns because we learn. We are Longhorns because we teach. We are Longhorns because we discover. And we are Longhorns because we change the world. And we are going to keep doing that. In this way, we can honor the memory of Harrison Brown and other Longhorns we have lost.
Gregory L. Fenves
— Greg Fenves (@gregfenves) May 2, 2017
Classes and events will resume tomorrow morning. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with the victims & familieshttps://t.co/sUYO49yodw
— UT Austin (@UTAustin) May 2, 2017