Police: Report of a stabbing attack Monday in West Campus was false

May 03, 2017
  • By Mark Wilson
  • Katie Hall
  • American-Statesman Staff

Austin police now say that a second stabbing that had been reported Monday near the University of Texas — within hours of an on-campus knife attack that left one student dead and three others injured — never happened.

Austin interim Police Chief Brian Manley on Wednesday afternoon said the man had reported that someone stabbed him.

Instead, he actually accidentally cut himself on the leg while playing with a knife and then lied about it to police, Manley said. The man, identified in online police records about the reported attack as Lewis Romel Yarbrough, admitted to detectives Wednesday that he made the story up after considering the medical expense he was about to incur, the chief said.

“He transported himself to the hospital for treatment. Then, realizing the expense that the medical bill might pose, he decided to link this to the attack that took place on the UT campus earlier in the day,” Manley said.

The man may be charged with giving a false report to a police officer, but authorities are still investigating the case. On Wednesday evening, he hadn’t been charged with a crime.

The American-Statesman reached out to Yarbrough for comment, but he said the Statesman had “false information” and declined to comment further. His Facebook page had been taken down Wednesday evening.

Austin police took heavy criticism this week for how it informed the public after the West Campus incident was reported. Police received reports about a possible stabbing near 26th and Nueces streets around 4:30 p.m. Monday. But police officials initially said reports of the stabbing — coming so soon after the on-campus attack — were rumors. It wasn’t until around 9:30 p.m. that police confirmed that they had received a report about the alleged incident.

“There was a lot going on Monday. Social media was very active. There were multiple reports of stabbings. There was even a report of a shooting, and we were actively working on each and every one of those,” Manley said.

If detectives were skeptical, Manley said it had nothing to do with the delay.

”We never want to be in a position where we make an early assessment and not believe someone’s account, not put out information and then find out we were wrong,” he said.

Even though the report turned out to be false, Manley still said the department should have shared the reported information sooner with the community.

“We should have been more sensitive to the concerns in the West Campus community and the UT community as a whole, in letting them know that what we thought at the time was an incident, that now we know was not an incident, we should have brought that forward sooner,” Manley said Wednesday.