1 dead, several injured in stabbing at University of Texas at Austin

May 1, 2017
| Report Focus News

One student is dead and three others have been taken to the hospital after a reported stabbing attack on the University of Texas campus Monday afternoon, authorities said.

UT Police Chief David Carter identified the suspect in the attack as 20-year-old UT student Kendrex J. White.

| Report Focus NewsPolice got the call around 1:30 p.m. this afternoon about a person with a knife who attacked or assaulted someone outside the Gregory gym.

A UT police officer saw a man, later identified as White, with a “large, bowie-style hunting knife,” Carter said. The officer drew his gun and told White  to get on the ground, which he did, and police took him into custody.

Within about a block, three more people were found stabbed, Carter said.

Austin-Travis County EMS reported that they had taken three people with potentially serious injuries to University Medical Center Brackenridge.

“We ask that all our students call home,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves said. “Call your parents to let them know you’re safe.”

University officials said they have canceled classes and events on campus for the rest of Monday because the investigation into the attack has limited access to buildings.

About a dozen Austin police units swarmed responded to provide back up and support university police, which is leading the response to the stabbing, said spokeswoman Amanda Cole.

In response to the incident, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said “our prayers go out to all those affected.”

He said he has “have offered all available state resources” to assist in any effort.

In a separate incident, the Belo Center for New Media was briefly evacuated after a reported bomb threat. But university police said the building was not under lockdown and is open. “There is no immediate threat at this time,” they said.

A sign had been draped across the building’s sky bridge with the words “Tuition Pays for Bombs” before it was taken down.

Last week, university police alerted the campus about a drive-by shooting near Dean Keeton and San Jacinto streets on Thursday. No one was injured, and police said neither the shooter or his target were affiliated with the university.

The incident also comes about 13 months after the slaying of Haruka Weiser, 18, a freshman theater and dance student from Portland, Ore., whose body was found April 5, 2016, on the bank of Waller Creek near the UT alumni center. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted, authorities say.

Weiser’s death sparked an outcry from UT parents concerned for the safety of their children, and a review and overhaul of campus safety protocols. The Texas Department of Public Safety concluded that UT needed more police officers, more lighting and more video surveillance. UT was also urged to keep homeless people and others with no particular reason to be on campus away, and to make sure people who aren’t supposed to be in UT buildings can’t get in.

Some recommendations led to quick changes, such as the removal of dense vegetation to improve visibility in walking areas along Waller Creek, where Weiser was killed. Lighting has been improved on Speedway, a major north-south pedestrian route that runs through campus. Door locks to College of Fine Arts buildings have been installed that only allow people with UT IDs to come in at certain times of the day.

But even though the university is making progress, the size of the campus represents a challenge. Fully implementing the DPS recommendations and upgrading the university’s 164 buildings will take months, if not years. Officials have said there is some debate as to the usefulness of outfitting larger areas of the campus with closed circuit security cameras.

And the UT Police Department, which had increased its authorized force from 67 cops to 99 in recent years, is still working to reach its full strength due to lengthy hiring procedures and training.