Fact Check

Did a Student with a Concealed Handgun Stop a Mass Stabbing at a Texas College?

Reports that a student with a handgun stopped a stabbing attack were based on incomplete information.

Published May 4, 2017

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A student with a concealed handgun stopped a mass stabbing at the University of Texas.

Shortly after one person was killed and three injured during a 1 May 2017 stabbing attack at the University of Texas, a rumor began that a student with a concealed handgun had stopped the attacker before police arrived.

This rumor was largely based on a screenshot purportedly showing a text message from an alleged eyewitness:

He was walking into Greg next to me and this guy stabbed him in the heart and I ran inside and grabbed my gun out and came back out and chased the kid briefly but I wasn't comfortable shooting because people were around. They got him though. The kid outside of Greg is dead I'm pretty sure. Fuck that was scary.

Several outlets included a screenshot of a GroupMe message sent by Student Body Vice President Binna Kim mentioning a student with a concealed handgun license (CHL):

However, Kim did not actually witness the incident and later apologized for sending the messages without having confirmed:

The university's student newspaper The Tab also mentioned eyewitness reports of a student with a handgun. However, the paper never clarified who the eyewitnesses were and it is unclear whether they based their claims on Kim's messages.

Although one alleged witness did claim that they grabbed a gun and "chased the kid briefly," this account has not been corroborated by authorities. The Austin American-Statesman reported of the incident that:

University of Texas police say the rumor of help from an armed student is false. They say they have found no corroborating evidence, be it video or first-hand accounts.

“It’s a rumor and there’s nothing to verify it,” University of Texas spokeswoman Cindy Posey said.

According to University of Texas Police Chief David Carter, the attacker was subdued by an officer shortly after they received a report about an assault on campus:

About 1:49 p.m., Carter said, UTPD got a call about an individual who “actually attacked or assaulted somebody” near a gym. In less than two minutes, an officer was on the scene.

“The officer observed the individual walking away from an individual who was down on the ground,” Carter said. “He was armed with a large, Bowie-style hunting knife.”

The officer confronted the man, Carter said, drawing his weapon and ordering the man to the ground. Then the suspect was taken into custody. “The officer discovered that unfortunately, in addition to that single individual who had been stabbed, within about a block, there were three additional victims, all male, all determined to be students, who were also stabbed,” Carter said.


Toohey, Marty.   "VIRAL ITEM DEBUNKED: No evidence gun-brandishing student helped subdue UT attacker."     Austin American-Statesman.   3 May 2017.

Svrluga, Susan.   "One killed, three wounded in attack on University of Texas at Austin campus, police say."     Washington Post.   1 May 2017.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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