Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Confusion ensues after death of UT student

Zachary Strain

Shawneequa Smith, a Human Development and Family Science Senior, bows her head during a moment of prayer at a memorial service for the late Erick Whitaker in the Malcom X Lounge, Friday. Whitaker was a UT sophomore who passed away May 27.

Following the death of UT sophomore Erick Whitaker, members of the UT community gathered to remember his life and discuss the unusual circumstances of his death.

Whitaker, 19, passed away at San Antonio’s University Hospital shortly after being shot on May 27. At a candlelight vigil Friday at the Malcolm X Lounge, people celebrated the short life he lived and expressed their confusion about the media report of Whitaker’s death.

According to a May 28 KABB Fox San Antonio news report, police said Whitaker was with his friends when he suddenly started running for unknown reasons and then proceeded to randomly bang on the door of a neighbor’s home. Police said a resident of the home, Keith Harp, opened fire on Whitaker, shooting him in the chest because he and his wife thought Whitaker was trying to break in. The event was reported as a “home invasion.” KAAB reports police are not planning to press charges against the homeowner.

Representatives of the San Antonio Police Department were unavailable for comment.

Kammrun Hebert, a close friend of Whitaker’s who spoke at the vigil, said the news report did not make sense and Whitaker would not have taken part in a “home invasion.”

“[Whitaker] was a good person,” Hebert said. “He never would of been a part of something like that. Just look at his tweets.”

A print out of Whitaker’s Twitter page from the few days prior to his death was given to people at the vigil. Between May 23 and 26, Whitaker tweeted at least 29 religious messages.

Cortney Sanders, Whitaker’s friend and government and ethnic studies junior, and former UT student Chas Moore organized the vigil for Whitaker along with faculty from the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies.

Sanders said she is not sure if she will ever know what really happened that day and believes there is more to the story than the media report on the incident. She said she hopes that members of the UT community can come together to help each other deal with Whitaker’s death.

“Now is a time to look to the community at UT as a unit of support,” she said. “We are here for one another.”

Moore said he is skeptical about the media report and hopes to get more information about the circumstances of Whitaker’s death. For now, Moore said he will focus on remembering Whitaker’s life and his uplifting and inspiring nature.

“I think Erick’s purpose was to just touch people and remind them that life is so much more than just all these meaningless things,” he said.

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Confusion ensues after death of UT student