Harrison Brown, 19 (pictured left), had just finished playing basketball and was heading to a food truck near the Gregory gymnasium on the University of Texas campus in Austin on Monday afternoon. He made it as far as Speedway — a half-mile stretch of road that was converted to a footpath and space mall last year.
That’s where Harrison ran into Kendrex J. White, a 21-year-old with a history of mental illness.
White and Brown were strangers to each other.
Without warning, White plunged a “Bowie style” hunting knife into Harrison’s chest in an attack that injured 3 other students.
Mortally wounded, Harrison turned back towards the gymnasium, where he encountered another stranger.
Lori Brown was at home in Graham, Texas, when she received a call from Harrison. She had spoken with him just 3 minutes earlier when he filled her in on his average day on campus. But this time the caller wasn’t Harrison. It was the voice of a frantic young woman.
“And she said, ‘Are you Harrison’s mom?'” Lori told a reporter for KXAN. “You could tell there was something bad going on at the other end,” Lori said.
The UT student told her Harrison had just been attacked. She said she happened to be in the gym and turned back toward the door when Harrison approached her.
“She was coming out of the door — he was holding his hand over his chest and there was blood coming out of his chest. He had held the phone out and said, ‘Call my mom.'”
Lori never got the chance to say a final goodbye to her son.
She recalled the earlier conversation she had with Harrison, a freshman who loved being a Longhorn.
“He said he had just played basketball, he always called me ‘mama,'” Lori explained. “He was gonna get something to eat at a food truck.”
Lori traveled to Austin, Texas immediately with Harrison’s older brother, John.
A grief counselor arranged a meeting between the grieving mom and the student who was the last to see Harrison alive.
“She knew I wanted to meet with her… This young lady — she was a freshman also — she came to see me at my hotel room and it meant the world to me. It was so comforting that she was able to do that for me.”
Harrison’s father has ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a nervous system disorder that attacks the breathing muscles and is always fatal. “It’s very progressive,” Lori said.
There is no cure for ALS, but Harrison helped raise $10,000 for his father’s treatment.
“The last thing he said to [his father] and I when he left after Easter on Sunday was, ‘I’ll be back on May 20, Dad,’” Lori said. “I think he was a little worried that his dad… we were kind of approaching the end of our ALS, and [Harrison] turned around with the biggest smile on his face, and his baseball cap on, and said, ‘I’ll be back dad and I’ll take care of you.'”
Harrison is pictured as a toddler with his dad, left, and after his dad was diagnosed with ALS.
The memorial for Harrison will be held at the Graham High School gym in his hometown at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
An earlier version of this post was edited to remove a reference to Black Lives Matter.