A 21-year-old University of Texas student is accused of stabbing four men, killing one, in an attack on the college’s Austin campus, police say.
Kendrex J. White, of Killeen, was taken into custody at the scene, authorities said at a press conference.
The stabbings occurred about 1:30 p.m. near the campus’s Gregory gym, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the stabbings.
“At this particular time we do not know. We have upwards of 25 witnesses, so this investigation is going to take a little while,” University of Texas-Austin Police Chief David Carter said at a press conference. “His motivation, what was going through his mind, I can’t answer at this time. … It would be premature for me to indicate or suggest one thing or another at this point.”
Harrison Brown, a 2016 graduate of Graham High School, and a student at the University of Texas, has been identified as the victim who was killed, KFDX-TV reports. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The three other victims were hospitalized with serious injuries. Three of the victims are white males and one is Asian male, he said. They have not yet been identified.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. White Is Accused of Using a ‘Large Bowie-Style Hunting Knife’ to Stab Students at Random
Kendrex White is accused of using a “large, Bowie-style hunting knife” to randomly attack at least four men, University of Texas-Austin Police Chief David Carter said at a press conference. Carter said police officers from responded in less than two minutes after the call of an attack came in.
Carter said White “calmly walked around the Gregory Gymnasium plaza and basically attacked the four unfortunate students there.”
Ray Arrendondo, a University of Texas student, said he was walking to his car near the Gregory gym when he saw other students running, the Associated Press reports.
“They were just screaming, ‘Run! Get out of here!'” Arredondo told the AP.
Rachel Prichett said she saw a person behind her in line at a food truck outside the gym get stabbed.
“The guy was standing next to me,” Prichett told the Austin American-Statesman. “He grabbed him by the shoulder and shoved the knife in it. I just started running as fast as I could.”
Another witness, who asked to remain anonymous, described what the scene:
“At the end of the table some guy comes up in a bandanna and stabs the knife into the table and looks all of us in the eye. I thought it was just some theatrical stunt or something,” the witness said. “He pulls the knife out without saying anything and turns around to slash some guy in the back of the neck. The slash victim grabs the back of his neck and yells.”
The witness said they were waiting for the attacker to say something, but he was quiet.
“The attacker walks to another guy and stabs him in like the kidney region in his back,” the witness said. “Some guy yells run and we all bolt.”
Harrison Brown was killed in the attack. Three other victims were seriously injured.
The victim killed in the stabbing was identified by the Graham, Texas, school district as Brown, according to a statement on its Facebook page:
The news of Harrison Brown’s (GHS Class of 2016) passing is heartbreaking There are no words adequate enough to express the sorrow felt by Graham ISD and the community of Graham for this loss. Harrison was an inspiration to everyone around him. We were Blessed and honored to have known him.
For Kurt and Lori Brown, John and Allie Brown and family, we pray the outpouring of sympathy, the kind acts of friends and strangers and the comfort in knowing that your loss is felt by many, will help you through this difficult time.
Counselors and youth ministers will be at the high school tomorrow and available for our students.
A GoFundMe has been set up to raise money for Brown’s family.
2. White, Who Was Tackled to the Ground at Gunpoint by Police After the Stabbings, Was Arrested on a DWI Charge in April
White surrendered to police at gunpoint after the stabbing, authorities said at a press conference. In photos taken at the scene, a sheath for a large hunting knife can be seen on White’s leg. Police say the large Bowie-style knife used in the attack is illegal to carry.
Lindsey Clark said she saw White get tackled as he ran toward the entrance of Jester Hall, which includes dorms and classrooms, the Associated Press reports.
“You could see and hear people running and screaming: ‘There he is!'” Clark said, before the suspect was taken down.
White is in police custody, but has not yet been charged. The investigation into the stabbings is ongoing and police have not yet released a motive. University Police Chief David Carter said he is “not aware of” any connection between White and any groups that possibly could claim responsibility for the attack.
“He has basically just been taken into custody. He is obviously going to be interrogated as part of that process,” Carter told reporters. “What information he’s providing detectives at this point, both the UTPD and APD homicide detectives I do not know. … He is currently being interrogated at this point and it will probably be awhile before we actually charge him.”
Carter said White did not say anything to the officers at the scene.
“I don’t know what his motivation is, but we don’t have any information that would suggest there is something else going on,” Carter said, when asked by a reporter if investigators believe White was “working alone.”
He was arrested on April 4, 2017, by Austin Police on a DWI charge, KXAN-TV reports.
According to Travis County records obtained by the news station, White was involved in a car crash after police said he failed to yield to the right of way while making a turn. White told an investigating officer he had taken two “happy pills,” which were listed as Zoloft in the report, according to the news station.
White does not appear to have any previous criminal record. The DWI case remains open and he is scheduled to appear in court on May 23.
3. He Is a Killeen High School Graduate Studying Biology at UT Austin With Hopes of Becoming a Doctor
Kendrex Jermaine White graduated from Killeen High School in 2014, according to his Facebook page. He says he is a resident of Killeen, originally from Hawaii.
His father works for the U.S. Army in Killeen.
White is a junior biology and pre-med major at the university. According to his Twitter profile, he has been studying to eventually become a doctor.
“Aloha. I live life to the fullest, because this can all be gone tomorrow,” he wrote. “Future Doctor #UT18 Bio Major pre-Med. Hawaii will always be my home. Smile.”
White was a member of the Black Health Professionals Organization on campus, the group’s president, Melody Adindu, told the Associated Press. Adindu said White was passionate about his work and was “very interactive and easygoing.” She said she is shocked by the news about the stabbings.
Students who knew White said he was having issues recently. Korbin Springer said on Twitter that White suffered from epilepsy and had not been in class for about a month. Springer said White “seemed like a good guy.”
Springer also tweeted about the car crash that led to White’s arrest in April. According to Springer, White said the crash was caused by a seizure. “He said the police thought he was intoxicated but he was not,” Springer tweeted. “Kendrex truly seemed like a good person. Perhaps other factors led to this including car accident/ trouble with law enforcement.”
Another student told KXAN-TV similar thoughts about White. Joshua Anderson told the news station he had classes with White and said he is “very friendly and talkative,” but had recently been missing classes. Anderson said he asked White about it and he said he “had to put academics on the back burner for a bit” because he had a “few things going on in his life,” KXAN reports.
4. He Tweeted ‘Human Selfishness Lives & Breathes’ Just Hours Before the Attack & Often Posted About Jesus, God & the Bible
Kendrex White was tweeting on his account, @Kchazz, just hours before the attack. In one tweet he wrote, “Human selfishness lives and breaths.”
His final tweet before the stabbing read, “Yahushua,” with three emojis, “??✝️?.”
Yahushua is a name that some use for Jesus, according to Eliyah.com.
“The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that the Messiah’s name never was ‘Jesus’ and that the name “Jesus” is actually an invention of man,” the Eliyah website’s author explains. “It is quite evident that the modern form ‘Jesus’ doesn’t even remotely resemble the original name that the disciples were praying in, baptizing in and receiving so much criticism for preaching in. This is fact. Do some research and see for yourself.”
The use of the name originated with the Sacred Name Movement, part of the Church of God (7th Day) , which seeks to conform Christianity to its Hebrew roots, according to SacredNameMovement.org.
The movement also uses spells the name Yahshua. The church follows many practices, beliefs and worship traditions from the Old Testament, including laws and ceremonies like the Sabbath, Torah festivals and food laws.
White often retweeted the account “Bible_Time,” which tweets Biblical quotes, and wrote about his belief in God and Jesus.
On April 28 he wrote, “I wonder Jesus is up to.” In December 2016, he tweeted about how 2017 would be “all about God.”
White’s tweets over the past year vary from praising God for giving him another day and hope for the future, to despair. “Thank you God, for letting me see the sun again,” he tweeted on August 7, 2016. A month earlier he tweeted, “I just want to feel like everything is gonna be alright.” In June he tweeted, “It can all be gone tomorrow,” and “Feel so lost.”
In July 2016 he tweeted, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villian.” I’m really starting to understand this now..”
A day earlier, he also posted a video showing the gunman who attacked police officers in Dallas, writing, “WTF? He think this GTA? Crazy man,” and later tweeted, “And I thought I was crazy.”
White also posted a Snapchat video to his account, Kendrexisbased, just hours before the attack, wearing the bandanna and scarf or shawl he appears to have on at the stabbing scene.
He was also holding what appeared to be a wooden stick in the Snapchat video:
In the video White does not say anything. He can be seen sitting near a TV and dancing while the Migos music video “Bad and Boujee” plays in the background. He captioned the video, “Gucci on my mind lol.”
The scarf or shawl he is wearing appears to have Hebrew writing on it.
5. University Officials Say Reports of Another Man With a Knife Are Not Credible & There Is No Ongoing Threat to Campus
The stabbing caused panic on the campus, with reports on social media of other ongoing threats, including rumors that the suspect and others were targeting fraternity and sorority members, looking for victims wearing Greek letters. Police have not confirmed those rumors.
But authorities said at a press conference there is no ongoing threat to the campus. They also dispelled reports of a second attacker with a knife on the college’s West Campus, saying those reports were not credible.
“This afternoon, there was an attack involving multiple stabbings, which led to one death and three other victims who were seriously injured. A suspect has been apprehended and is in custody. UTPD and campus security continue to evaluate the situation and at this time we do not believe there is an ongoing threat,” University President Greg Fenves said. “Due to this horrific and senseless tragedy in the heart of our campus, we are canceling all classes and scheduled events for the rest of the afternoon and evening. A number of buildings are closed or have limited access because of the ongoing investigation.”
Police and university officials have taken some heat for not sending out a campus alert immediately after the stabbings and for not putting the campus on lockdown, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Authorities said they did not use a lockdown because they suspect was taken into custody right after the attacks, the newspaper reports.
There were also rumors of a bomb threat at the Belo Center for New Media, which was briefly evacuated, the newspaper reports. A banner was hung across the building’s sky bridge stating, “Tuition Pays for Bombs,” according to the Statesman.
“There are no words to describe my sense of loss. Campus safety is our highest priority and we will investigate this tragic incident to the greatest extent possible,” Fenves said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, the witnesses to the crime, and every member of Longhorn nation. We all mourn today.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement he had been briefed about the incident, along with an unrelated shooting in Dallas that left a firefighter wounded.
“Our prayers go out to all those affected by today’s tragic events,” Abbott said. “I have been briefed by the Department of Public Safety on both incidents, and have also talked to University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves. As the investigations into these heinous crimes continue, I have offered all available state resources to both Dallas and the University of Texas to assist in any effort.”