(AUSTIN, Texas) — A massive manhunt is underway to find the suspect involved in the death of a freshman student — all while a campus tries to come to grips with loosing one of their own.
Haruka Weiser, 18, a freshmen and dance student, was last seen leaving a university drama building Sunday night. Her body was discovered in a campus creek Tuesday.
Hundreds gathered Thursday evening on UT's East Mall to pay their respects. A moment of silence started the vigil followed by speeches from students, administrators and faculty members.
Grief counselors were also on hand as organizers distributed black ribbons and note cards for writing messages.
According to the Austin Police Department, Weiser was a victim of assault and endured what university president Gregory L. Fenves described as "unthinkable brutality."
Weiser was last seen Sunday night leaving the drama building between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m., Austin Police Department Chief Troy Gay said in a press conference Thursday.
In the press conference, Gay played surveillance video of a person of interest. He first was seen on surveillance wearing a backpack and walking a red bicycle around 10 p.m. and then later after 11 p.m. Police believe he was in the area near the drama building for at least a couple of hours.
Gay described the campus as "active" at the time the suspect was seen on campus, with cyclists and students appearing near the suspect. He hopes one of those people will come forward. Police are offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
"The police department will not rest" until the suspect is arrested," Gay said.
I am devastated to learn that our student Haruka Weiser has been identified as the victim of the homicide. https://t.co/47BasRH3vb— Greg Fenves (@gregfenves) April 7, 2016
As the investigation continues — a community grieves. Wiser's family hopes this incident will help prevent another loss of life.
"As we struggle to understand why she was killed, if her death can somehow make it safer for a young woman to walk home," her family said in a statement. "If it will prevent another assault or murder, then at least we could find some meaning behind an otherwise senseless and tragic death."
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