Homicide victim identified as theatre and dance freshman

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Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

For a recap of all of Thursday's updates, click here. To read about the community gathering held Thursday evening in honor of Haruka Weiser, click here

Update (5:15 p.m.): A recap of the press conference, from Daily Texan videographers:

Update (3:57 p.m.): Here is surveillance footage provided by the Austin Police Department regarding the suspect involved in the homicide:

Update (2:45 p.m.): The Austin Police Department is seeking help from the UT community and the general public to help identify the suspect in the murder of dance freshman Haruka Weiser.

APD described the suspect as a 6-foot-tall black male but had no other identifying details at the time. It is not known if the suspect is a UT student, said Austin Police Department Assistant Chief Troy Gay.

“This also affects our Austin community because we are a family together and this affects all of us,” Gay said. “We wish that we could have come out yesterday, but we felt it was very important that Haruka’s family be notified.”

A video taken by UT surveillance cameras showed the suspect walking Sunday night with a pink or red bicycle by the Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium. Gay said the medical examiner’s office verified Weiser’s death as a homicide. Gay confirmed she was assaulted, but officers are not releasing further information about the assault at this time due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

Bob Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security,  said students should walk on well-lit paths and sidewalks in pairs at night, be aware of their surroundings and not take shortcuts while walking to their destination.

“I’m asking you not to walk distracted,” Harkins said. “In essence, do the smart things. Don’t do the expedient things.”

Gage Paine, vice president for student affairs, said counseling services are available during extended hours to all students. The Counseling and Mental Health Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Friday, April 15, and additional hours will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, April 9.

Paine said counseling will be available to students regardless of whether they have an appointment scheduled. There will be a community gathering on the East Mall at 5:30 p.m. tonight.

“You’re not alone,” Paine said. “Please ask for help. We will take care of you.”

In a statement from Weiser’s family, the family said they were grateful for the “outpouring of love” they have received. Weiser was a “passionate and dedicated dancer” and planned to pursue pre-medical studies in the future and visit family in Japan during the summer.

“Although Haruka loved to perform on stage she never sought the spotlight in her daily life. Perhaps the last thing she would want is to be the poster child for any cause,” the family wrote. “And yet, as we struggle to understand why she was killed, if her death can somehow make it safer for a young woman to walk home, if it will prevent another assault or murder, then at least we could find some meaning behind an otherwise senseless and tragic death.”

Original story: The victim of the homicide on the UT campus has been identified as theatre and dance freshman Haruka Weiser, according to an email from UT President Gregory Fenves and a release from the Austin Police Department.

“Her death is a tragic loss for the UT community. Haruka was a beloved member of our dance community, liked and admired by her classmates and respected by professors for her intelligence and spirit,” Fenves said in the email.

Weiser was identified as missing by UTPD on Monday morning. Her death is being investigated as a homicide with APD taking the lead on the investigation. Since UTPD announced the homicide Tuesday morning, officers from UTPD and other departments have increased patrols around the UT campus.  

“The unthinkable brutality against Haruka is an attack on our entire family. Law enforcement is fully engaged to do everything to bring the perpetrator who committed this crime to justice,” Fenves wrote in the email. “I ask you to join me in expressing our deepest condolences to Haruka’s parents, family, classmates and friends and to help the university honor her life.”

Haruka was a talented student whom dance faculty members recruited to come to the College of Fine Arts, Fenves wrote in the email.

“Our community was made better by her decision to join the College of Fine Arts,” Fenves wrote in the email. “Trained in ballet, Haruka excelled in all her performance endeavors. She was also involved in Dance Action, a student-run organization for dancers, and performed in the fall Dance Action concert.”

UT will hold a press conference later today with campus safety leaders, APD and the Texas Department of Public Safety.