AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas student who police say went on a stabbing spree, killing one and injuring three others, was suffering from mental health issues. Less than 24 hours after the attack on campus, UT police say the suspect, 21-year-old Kendrex J. White, did not have a vendetta against any particular group but that he “did have a history” with mental health. UTPD Chief of Police David Carter says White, who was a Biology major, was recently involuntarily committed in another city.
While no particular motive was revealed during Tuesday’s briefing, police reiterated that the attack didn’t have anything to do with targeting fraternities. “None of the victims in this case were wearing anything that would indicate they were a member of a fraternity,” says Carter. The student who died, 19-year-old Harrison Brown, was the first victim in the spree. One student remains hospitalized while two others were released from the hospital Monday evening. None of the other victims, all of whom are male, have been identified at this time.
Originally, UTPD said the initial 911 call came in at 1:50 p.m., but Carter clarified Tuesday that the actual call was received at 1:46 p.m. and an officer arrived at the scene at 1:48 p.m. When the officer arrived, the students pointed in the direction of where the suspect was headed, which was the Jester West dormitory. Police say White was still brandishing a “Bowie-style” hunting knife when they approached him.
“I also really want to stress the point that by the officers going in and following the individual, catching that individual mid-stream where students were present, the situation could’ve been a lot worse,” says Carter. “I think lives were actually saved, I believe that.”
When authorities questioned White and asked him if was hearing voices in his head, White said his “mind told him to, ‘tell the truth and withhold any action that he did because it didn’t really happen,'” according to an arrest affidavit. White told police it was possible that he used a knife to hit someone but he did not remember.
White told police he purchased the knife several days ago for protection and that Monday was the first time he carried the knife on his person, continued in the affidavit.
Last month, the UT community recognized the one year anniversary of the murder of Haruka Weiser. For UT President Greg Fenves, the reality of two students murdered on campus is “simply unbelievable.”
“I’m hurt and I’m angry that our campus has seen these tragedies in two of our students,” says Fenves, who met with Brown’s mother and brother prior to Tuesday’s briefing. “Mrs. Brown talked about her son and how much he loved being a Longhorn in his first year here.” A GoFundMe account that was setup for Brown raised $44,000 in less than 24 hours.
Since Weiser’s murder, numerous safety and security changes were implemented on campus, but Fenves says more can be done. He says they are increasing patrols on and off campus with the help of Austin police and Department of Public Safety troopers.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions at this time—and our students are concerned,” says Fenves. “There is fear and that fear is justified.”
Officials are urging students to be aware of their surroundings and remain vigilant.
White is currently in the Travis County Jail charged with murder. More charges are expected. His first court date is scheduled for May 19.
Map of White’s Route
West Campus Incidents
The Austin Police Department said on Tuesday they recognize that they were slow to get information about an unrelated stabbing that happened in West Campus a few hours after the on-campus incident happened. Police say on Monday around 3 p.m. there was a stabbing in the 2600 block of Nueces Street. The victim told police he was walking when he saw a large group of students where he noticed a man was threatening a woman with a knife.
“At that point, he said instinct came in and he tackled the suspect,” says APD Chief of Police Brian Manley. “During the struggle, as he got up, he realized he had been wounded — he suffered a stab wound to his lower leg.”
The suspect is described as a white man in his 20s. He is 5-foot-9 and has sandy brown hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a hoodie.
Later that night, police say there was a deceased person found inside an apartment in the 2700 block of Nueces. Manley says nothing about the person’s death appears to be suspicious at this time and is in no way related to any of the other cases in and around campus.