Harrison Brown, 19, wasn’t only a UT student — he was a musician, a son, a brother and a kind friend.
On Monday afternoon, Brown, an undeclared freshman, was killed in an on-campus stabbing outside Gregory Gymnasium. Three other students were injured in the incident.
Austin bishop Joe Vásquez led a memorial mass for Brown, a practicing Catholic, at the University Catholic Center Tuesday night. All members of the UT community were welcome, filling the church to capacity with some standing at the back.
Radio-television-film freshman Kate Salkowitz, a close friend of Brown’s, said he was always a force of positivity.
“He had the goofiest smile,” Salkowitz said. “He was always the one in a room with a lot of people where you’re trying to tell a story and no one was listening, (but) he would lean out and poke his head around people and be so excited to listen to what you were saying.”
Born in Graham, Texas, Brown was a passionate musician who played numerous instruments. A video of Brown singing and playing the guitar to “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain has hit more than 500,000 views on Facebook.
Neuroscience freshman Andre Ribeiro said he met Brown on the first day of class last semester, and the two became friends instantly.
“Whenever he walked into a room, even if the mood in a room was sad, he would just turn it around completely,” Ribeiro said. “I could hear his laugh from across the room. I didn’t have to know he was there. He was just like a presence that filled the room.”
Physics freshman Stephen Wilhelm said Ribeiro introduced Brown to his friend group, and they became close friends this past semester.
“If you had to give him a spirit animal, it would be a golden retriever puppy,” Wilhelm said. “He was just always excited about literally everything … (and) he was genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Radio-television-film freshman Ryan Wright said Brown consistently cared about how his friends were doing and how their days went.
“Harrison was the most caring, positive and optimistic guy I have probably ever met,” Wright said. “It’s just such a shame because he did not deserve anything like this. What he stood for is just pure love and pure care.”
Wright said he and Brown had similar interests in music and clothing.
“I’m going to miss (him singing) the most,” Wright said. “He would just go on random tangents of him singing …. He was definitely going to make it big one day.”
A GoFundMe account created Monday for the Brown family surpassed its goal of $100,000 on Tuesday, reaching $112,180 from 3,584 donors at press time.
Both Ribeiro and Wright said Brown always seemed to have bad luck, but he remained optimistic about everything.
“He was always wrecking his moped and losing his wallet or keys,” Wright said. “(But) it would never matter to him.”
Ribeiro said Brown was never concerned with material things that most people worry about.
“He was worried about making relationships with people and being the kindest person I’ve ever known,” Ribeiro said.
Larry Rice, director of the University Catholic Center, said the on-campus tragedy has shaken the UT community to its core.
“Our friend and our brother, Harrison, joined us here at the Lord’s table during his too-brief of time with us,” Rice said. “Our connection to him (and) our unity with him as part of the body of Christ, we believe, is something that endures from today into eternity.”