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Police: Suspect in Texas stabbings had mental health trouble

A man is arrested after a fatal stabbing

A man is arrested after a fatal stabbing attack on the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, Monday, May 1, 2017. Credit: Ray Arredondo via AP

AUSTIN, Texas - The man suspected of stabbing four people at the University of Texas, one fatally, suffered from mental health troubles and had been involuntarily committed for treatment in another city, authorities said Tuesday.

University Police Chief David Carter said Kendrex J. White was "obviously" suffering from some kind of mental difficulties, but he did not elaborate on his condition or treatment.

"This was not a conspiracy. This was not a person that had a vendetta against any particular group," Carter said.

White, 21, who was enrolled at the Austin campus, was armed with a large hunting knife. He was described by former classmates as intelligent and easygoing and was active in a student group for black professionals.

Two of the students wounded in Monday's attack have been treated and released from hospitals while a third remains hospitalized, University of Texas President Greg Fenves said.

The student who was fatally stabbed was identified as freshman Harrison Brown. Brown was a talented musician who had not yet decided on a major, Fenves said.

Witnesses described a sudden and seemingly random assault on strangers the middle of one of the nation's largest universities.

Rachel Prichett said she was standing in line at a food truck outside a gym when she saw a man with a knife resembling a machete approach the person standing behind her.

"The guy was standing next to me," Prichett said. "He grabbed him by the shoulder and shoved the knife in it. I just started running as fast as I could."

Carter described the weapon as a "Bowie-style" hunting knife. He said the stabbings occurred within a one-block area.

Before the attacks, White was seen in the student activity center "appearing normal." After he left there, he kicked a woman as if to get her out of his way, the police chief said.

White then fatally stabbed Brown and walked up to a male student sitting at a picnic table and stabbed him in the back of the head, Carter said.

Another male student was stabbed while waiting in line at a food truck before White stabbed a fourth victim.

The shocked students "saw the police officers coming and pointed in the direction of the suspect," Carter said.

White walked into a dormitory still holding the knife in his hand but did not attack anyone else before he was apprehended. Carter said police were on the scene about 90 seconds after the first call, a response that officials believe possibly saved others.

White was an active member of the Black Health Professionals Organization student organization on campus, said Melody Adindu, the group's new president. She said he was passionate about his work and was "very interactive and easygoing."

Some of White's former classmates at Killeen High School, near the gates of the Fort Hood Army post in central Texas, had similar recollections.

"He was a really smart guy in high school. He was always nice, had plenty of friends and was in the international baccalaureate program. I'm definitely surprised he would do this," Kay'Lynn Wilkerson told the Killeen Daily Herald.

Ex-classmate Angela Bonilla called White "the sweetest guy, laughing and having a good time with people."

At the university, student Ray Arredondo said he was walking to his car when a mass of students near the gym started running.

"They were just screaming, 'Run! Get out of here!'" Arredondo said.

Arredondo later saw what looked like CPR being performed on someone outside the front door of the gym. Another student was sitting on a bench being treated for cuts to the head or neck, he said.

One person died at the scene. The others were taken to the hospital.

Brown had graduated from high school in the Graham school district, northwest of Fort Worth, before enrolling at the university. The district said in a statement that Brown "was an inspiration to everyone around him."

The attacker did not resist when officers confronted him at gunpoint, Carter said.

Lindsey Clark said she saw the suspect get tackled by police as he was running toward the entrance of Jester Hall, a complex of dormitories and classrooms. She described him as wearing a bandanna and gray sweatshirt and said he appeared quiet and subdued as police held him on the ground.

"You could see and hear people running and screaming: 'There he is!'" before he was tackled by officers, Clark said.

The University of Texas is blocks from downtown Austin and the Texas Capitol and is one of the nation's largest universities.

The attack occurred in the central campus, just a short walk from the administration building and the landmark clock tower that was the scene of a mass shooting in 1966

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