UT officer who stopped stabbing attack: I think of students as my own

Officer Eric Park has only been with UT for a few months. It's a retirement job of sorts after a 25-year career with DPS.He's never had his own children -- but in the short time he's been at UT, he says he come to think of them as his own.

AUSTIN - The day after KVUE obtained a new video that showed the moments after the University of Texas at Austin stabbing suspect Kendrex White allegedly attacked four students on campus, the UT police officer featured in the video has spoken out in an exclusive interview with KVUE Defender and Austin American-Statesman's Tony Plohetski.

Officer Eric Park, who was on his way to patrol a protest on campus on the afternoon of May 1, said it all started when out of the corner of his eye he spotted a commotion, heard screaming and then saw a man covered in blood.

A bystander pointed out White to him. He said he then caught up with White just as he was about to enter Jester Hall.

Read More: Deadly stabbing on UT campus: What we know so far 

Park said he knew at that moment that he had to had to intervene -- and fast -- before White went inside. He said he was seconds away from shooting White out of fear that he was about to hurt or kill other students.

"That's a very crowded dorm," Park said. "That's a very large dorm, where he was heading into it. That hour of the day, especially, it would have been packed with students. He could have attacked people left and right. I couldn't allow that. I couldn't allow him in that dorm."

Officer Park described White calmly surrendering when he ordered him to drop the knife.

"I could see he was trying to read whether I was really going to kill him or not, and  I guess he thought I was, so he just opened his fingers and let it fall," Park said.

Park then took him into custody just inside the dorm building entrance. He said he had his hand on his stun gun and had unhooked his gun in case the stabbing continued.

Today, Officer Park -- a veteran officer who has only been with UT since January -- is back on patrol. After spending most of his career with the Department of Public safety, Park said the incident was the first violent encounter he's faced in years.

Read More: UT stabbing suspect's parents sent son to neurologist before attack

Park said he doesn't have children, so he's come to think of the UT students as his own.

"If their parents can't be there to take care of them, that's our job. And I just want to protect them. I couldn't stop it from happening, but I can stop it from continuing.That's what's going on in me emotionally at that point," Park said.

Still, Park said there's a part of him that feels guilty he couldn't have done more that day.

"How could I not when the attack took place. If my job is to see to it that something like this keeps from happening, my whole reason for being... How could I not feel some guilt in this," Park said.

UT Police Chief David Carter is crediting Officer Park's actions with saving lives that day. He calls him a hero, but he also says other officers quickly responded and helped detain White -- and provide first aid to victims

Chief Carter hopes to honor all of them in a special ceremony soon.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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