At Graham High School, Harrison Brown was the kid who had it all.
He played trumpet in the school band and ran cross country. He participated in the school’s one-act play. His peers voted him class favorite, and his teachers named him “Mr. GHS,” the most outstanding student.
“You left meeting him with a smile on your face,” said Jack Graham, the mayor of the small town about an hour and a half northwest of Fort Worth. “He was a good-looking kid, a smart kid and just a friendly guy. You wanted him to succeed.”
Tragedy struck Monday afternoon when Brown was killed in a campus knife attack at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was in his first year of college.
Three other students were wounded in the stabbings, which happened about 1:45 p.m. near Gregory Gymnasium, a campus recreation center.
A suspect, UT student Kendrex J. White, was arrested at the scene, UT Police Chief David Carter said at a news conference.
Student Rachel Prichett, who witnessed the attack, told The Associated Press that she saw a man with a machete-like knife approach the person behind her in line at a food truck outside the gym.
“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 as the attacker “calmly walked around the plaza.”
Another 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.
Korbin Springer, a 19-year-old junior, told the Austin American-Statesman that he got to know White in a Spanish class they took together this semester. White was always smiling and happy-go-lucky when they would chat before and after class, Springer said.
A little over a month ago, the newspaper reported, White stopped coming to class, and Springer assumed he had dropped it until about a week ago when White returned, upset about a traffic incident. He told Springer he had been arrested for drunken driving but said he’d had a seizure and hadn’t been drunk.
“When I saw him then, he was very depressed and not the same,” Springer told the Statesman. “He was a happy guy. He was upset, I think against the police, because he felt they wrongly accused him.”
According to an arrest affidavit, police arrested White on April 4 on a charge of driving while intoxicated after he was involved in a wreck on campus.
Monday, when Springer heard about the stabbing and saw a photo of White being arrested, he was shocked.
No one answered the door at a house in Killeen where public records indicated White once lived. A woman who answered the phone at the home hung up when she was told she was speaking with a reporter.
UT officials canceled classes for the rest of the day.
“There are no words to describe my sense of loss,” UT President Greg Fenves said in a statement. “We all mourn today.”
In a Facebook post Monday night, Graham school officials wrote that Brown “was an inspiration to everyone around him.”
Graham High School Principal Joe Gordy said he and other school officials learned of Brown’s death about 5 p.m.
“It’s unfathomable,” said Gordy, who was Brown’s principal last school year and while Brown was in middle school. “It’s hard to get around the reality that he won’t be back.”
Gordy said that Brown stayed in close touch with friends from Graham and that some Graham students had messaged with Brown on social media Monday morning.
Brown was popular, Gordy said, but always made time for others.
“I always tell the kids you can measure a person’s character by how they help people who can’t help them,” Gordy said. “Harrison had a unique ability to make everyone feel like he was their best friend. You have a lot of kids and adults hurting in Graham tonight.”
A candlelight vigil is planned for 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Graham High School football field.
This report includes material from the Austin American-Statesman and The Associated Press.