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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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UH police: Force trained to handle ‘rare’ surprise attacks


Witnesses told police the attacker looked calm as he slowly advanced on his victims. | File Photo/The Cougar

19-year-old University of Texas at Austin freshman Harrison Brown was passionate about his music, UT President Greg Fenves said in a news conference Tuesday.

“His brother John told me that he really wanted to follow his passion for music,” Fenves said. “He was a talented musician, and was interested in being a student in our Butler School of Music. His family, and our community, will never be able to hear Harrison play and sing again, and for this, our hearts are breaking and we’re deeply, deeply saddened.”

Brown, who was killed in a stabbing spree Monday alongside three other injured students, asked someone standing nearby to call his mother. He died before she picked up the phone, according to Austin’s KXAN.

Despite UT’s tragedy, the University of Houston Police Department is ready to handle any similar attack situation, Lieutenant Bret Collier said in an email.

Collier said UHPD prepares for random or unprovoked attacks by training officers to respond, notify the community of a threat, stop the attacker and see that victims get medical care.

“Although the multiple reports from various sources about incidents like this make it appear as if they are common, they are in fact rare,” Collier said in an email. “I have been with UH over 20 years and we have not seen this type of an attack. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be prepared to recognize a threat when they see one and learn how to react.”

Collier said the adage “Avoid, Deny, Defend,” used in active shooter training, also applies to other kinds of attacks.

In a news conference, UT Chief of Police David Carter said 21-year-old UT student Kendrex J. White was arrested in connection with the stabbing. According to his Facebook profile, White graduated from Killeen High School in Killeen in 2014.

20-year-old UT student Stuart Bayliss was another victim injured the spree, according to Houston’s KHOU. He was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon, after undergoing five surgeries. A GoFundMe page started to help with his medical bills has raised about $56,000 of its $75,000 goal.

Bayliss is an aspiring marine and a member of the UT Navy ROTC, according to the report. He graduated from Cinco Ranch High School in Katy in 2015.

Carter said that before the stabbing, the attacker appeared normal to witnesses until he kicked a female student out of the way and stabbed Brown. He continued calmly until he came upon his second victim, witnesses told police, stabbing him in the back of the head.

Carter said the attacker continued toward a food truck in the Gregory Gym plaza and stabbed his final two victims in that vicinity.

“He was just calm as can be, but I’m not going to lie, he kind of looked like he wanted to kill somebody,” Bayliss said.

UTPD responded to the first 911 call within two minutes, Fenves said, and the suspect was taken into custody by two police officers before he could attack anyone else.

Many believed the attacker was targeting fraternity members, but police have since debunked this theory, Carter said.

“This was not a conspiracy. This was not a person who had a vendetta against any particular group,” said Carter.

Carter said that police believed that White suffers from mental health issues.

“He still will and needs to be held accountable,” Carter said. “He is culpable for his actions.”

Carter said he was recently involuntarily committed to a hospital in a different city. He was also arrested by UTPD for a DWI, according to an ABC 13 report.

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