Gov. Abbott addresses UT murder and hazmat scare

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Gov. Abbott addresses UT murder and hazmat scene near campus

Despite the beautiful spring weather at the edge of the hill country,there is a cloud hanging over the campus of The University Of Texas.

"The mood around campus has really changed. Everyone is just sort of , feeling just sort of confused," said freshman Juliette Fray. "People are just acting different. They're more aware of their surroundings."

In the last ten days, students have mourned the loss of freshman Haruka Weiser. She was killed on campus walking from a classroom building to her dorm. A homeless, runaway teen is charged with her death.

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"The campus has a different feel," said Alma Rosado. "This is like a big community. You can tell some people feel a little more cautious about what was happening."

Then Wednesday, just off campus, another college aged student died after exposure to a hazardous material. UT won't confirm if the victim attended the school, but Austin Police tell Eyewitness News that the department's homicide division is investigating what happened.

It is a month that has seen student in and around UT change their behavior and become more conscious of their surroundings.

"I've tried to not walk alone as much past 11pm," said Leah Kasher, a freshman. "Other than that I just make sure someone knows where I am at all times."

Stephanie Suarez, a senior from Houston has employed the same changes and communicates with friends in a private Facebook group to insure her friends' safety.

"I used to stay after school until ten to work," she said. "But now I don't really feel that safe staying here until that long. Anything could happen. We didn't think it could happen. But it did."

For its part the University is making changes too.

Its Campus Safety and Security division is actively working to expand the SURE Walk program and is coordinating with the Texas Department of Public Safety as it prepares to conduct a thorough review of campus safety procedures.

The university is also providing extra van shuttles for students after their evening rehearsals near the Winship and Fine Arts buildings.

Austin is also the state's capital. Just blocks from campus, Eyewitness News spoke with Governor Greg Abbott in the small parlor of the governor's mansion about how the city and university have responded.

"Frankly I am proud of the way the university of Texas responded to the challenge," he said. "It was a challenge. It was an unexpected challenge. But when you think about it, it's the first situation like that that has occurred on campus in a half a century. And so that means generally they're doing a very good job."
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