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UT police search for motive in student's stabbing spree

Police said they don't know why a junior biology major stabbed four other students on the University of Texas at Austin campus, killing one.

A look at the sun setting over the University of Texas at Austin Tower in 2011.

University of Texas at Austin police are searching for a motive for a student's on-campus stabbing spree Monday that left one other student dead and three more wounded.   

Police said they have detained junior biology major Kendrex White after they found him wielding a "large, Bowie-style hunting knife" and calmly walking around the busy plaza in front of Gregory Gym. By the time the officers arrived, one man lay bleeding on the ground near White, and three others were wounded about a block away.

All the victims were men; all were 20 or 21 years old, police said. 

Pictures posted on social media by The Daily Texan showed White being handcuffed by two campus police. He had a large leather knife holster at his hip. As of 4 p.m., he had not been charged with any crime. But police said they were interrogating him and hoping to learn more. 

The stabbings happened during the middle of the day in a high-traffic area near a library, dormitories and a business school building. Campus police Chief David Carter said investigators were also interviewing more than 25 witnesses to try to figure out whether the victims were stabbed at random or attacked for a particular purpose.

Rumors swirled on campus about motives, and social media lit up about other incidents nearby. Carter stressed, however, that there was no reason to believe there was further danger on campus. 

Carter also said he hadn't seen any indication that the victims were connected to each other in any way. 

"There was a lot of students walking at that particular time," he said. "The individual didn't just attack people that were right there. He walked a little ways and then stabbed another individual and then another individual and so forth."

UT-Austin cancelled classes for the rest of the day "out of respect for the victims," said UT-Austin President Greg Fenves. The school also increased patrols by campus police and security. 

"There are no words to describe my sense of loss," Fenves said.

Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that he was briefed on the situation and offered all available state resources to assist UT-Austin with the case. That was the second offer along those lines that he made Monday. In Dallas, police conducted a manhunt for a shooter who wounded a paramedic and neighbor Monday morning. The suspected shoter was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a house nearby, according to The Dallas Morning News. 

Our prayers go out to all those affected by today’s tragic events," Abbott said. 

The stabbing death comes just over a year after the slaying of another UT-Austin student on campus, Haruka Weiser. Her death was said to be the first killing on campus in 50 years. 

Read related Tribune coverage: 

  • After the death of Haruka Weiser, the Texas Department of Public safety called for more security on the UT-Austin campus. 

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here

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