[30] A police sharpshooter in a small plane was driven back by Whitman's return fire[33] but continued to circle at a distance, seeking to distract Whitman and further limit his freedom to choose targets. ", "Shooting brings back memories of 1966 UT Tower killings for officer who stopped gunman", "Nearly 50 years ago, bravery at a UT tower", "Austin Police officer Ramiro Martinez remembers feeling sense of duty to stop Whitman", "How the 1966 Tower sniper attack fueled debate over campus carry at UT", "University of Texas to Reopen Clock Tower Closed After Suicides", "University unveils redesign plans for Tower Garden Memorial", "University Of Texas Tower Sniper Recalled", "University of Texas adds memorial on 50th anniversary of tower shooting", "UT-Austin remembers tower shooting 50 years ago", "50 years later, debate remains over who killed UT shooter Charles Whitman", "After 48 Years, Unborn Victim of UT Tower Massacre Gets Headstone", "Evoking Charles Whitman: The UT Tower Shooting in Film", "The documentary that tells the story of America's first mass school shooting", "Former Police Officer Sues Over Tower Sniper Movie", "COLUMN ONE : Massacre and Myth in Texas: One man ended Charles Whitman's coldblooded Austin slaughter. [7]:32 At a gun shop he purchased four more carbine magazines, six additional boxes of ammunition, and a can of gun cleaning solvent. After leaving her husband, Whitman’s mother moved to Austin in spring 1966 to be near Whitman. Updates? Snowden, believing himself out of range, was struck in the shoulder while standing in a barbershop doorway. For 96 minutes he held the campus in a state of terror. About 11:55 am Gunby was returning to the library for a forgotten book when a shot passed through his upper left arm and entered his abdomen, severing his small intestine. After qualifying as a sharpshooter in boot camp, he served an 18-month stint at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba, where he earned an appointment to officer training school in Bainbridge, Maryland. McCoy leaped out while Martinez was firing and saw Whitman's head looking over the light ballast, McCoy fired at the top of the ballast, hitting Whitman between the eyes with several pellets, killing Whitman instantly. [7]:31 He put khaki coveralls on over his shirt and jeans. Gage says the circumstances of the shooting were unique: “Somebody from an elevated position, a tactical advantage on a tower, shooting innocent folks below him at a university campus.” Should a mass shooting happen in Austin today, Gage says it would unfold like it did in 1966. About 100 yards from the tower Harvey was shot in the hip; Evganides was struck in the left leg by the ricochet of the same shot. [32] [L]:289 After a stainless steel lattice and other security features were installed, it was again reopened in 1999, but only to by-appointment guided tours, and all visitors are screened by metal detectors. The majority of the clips on this silent reel were filmed by Gordon Wilkison and Neal Spelce during the UT Tower shooting on August 1, 1966. Having called the police station, he was instructed to go to the campus and direct traffic. Stewart was not shot but was injured in the commotion. Among those who grasped the situation, many risked their lives to take the wounded to safety. Street in Austin, Texas. Whitman’s father, a perfectionist, apparently was never satisfied with his son’s accomplishments, no matter how impressive, including early mastery of the piano and becoming one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in Boy Scout history. On the day of the UT Tower shooting– August 1, 1966– I was employed at St. David's Hospital, located at 900 East 32nd. He then drove to a hardware store, where he purchased a .30 caliber Universal M1 carbine, two additional ammunition magazines, and eight boxes of ammunition, telling the cashier he planned to hunt wild hogs. • Peter Bogdanovich's 1968 film Targets features a character based on Whitman. Whitman killed 14 people that day and wounded more than 30. He later recalled, "I laid there for about forty to forty-five minutes. Whitman, firing from the 28th-story observation deck of the UT tower, shot more than 40 people in 93 minutes. Allen was looking at the tower through a window of the Student Union when a bullet struck the window, followed by a second shot which severed an artery in his right forearm. It was closed again in 1975 following four suicides. She and Eckman were leaving the Student Union when Wilson, eight months pregnant, was shot in the abdomen at 11:47 am; her baby was killed. Ambulances from local funeral homes and an armored car were used to reach the wounded.[20]. As he looked for a way into the tower, a student offered to help, saying he had a rifle at home. Foster and Frede were wounded in the crossfire between Whitman and those shooting from the ground. The act of reclaiming her history would come afterward in fits and starts, beginning one summer night in 2001, when Claire sat at her computer and used a search engine for the very first time, carefully typing out the words “UT Tower Shooting.” Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. At over 500 yards, he was the victim farthest from the tower. After shots are fired, there would be an influx of 9-1-1 calls. In August 2014, McAlister — along with Claire Wilson James, Forrest Preece, James Bryce, Artly Snuff, Cyndi Taylor Krier, Clif Drummond and Hannah Whisenant — formed the Tower Memorial Enhancement Group. [15] Whitman then shot Townsley in the head before exiting to the observation deck. According to a July 1989 report in the Orlando Sentinel, a Dallas-area collector, Wayne Buxton, was trying to sell the seven guns that Whitman used at the tower. An employee named Vera Palmer activated it for him; Whitman thanked Palmer, stating, "Thank you ma'am",[14] before repeatedly saying: "You don't know how happy that makes me."[7]:32. About noon, Walchuk was leaving a magazine store on Guadalupe when he was shot in the chest. I had just sat down to have my lunch in the hospital cafeteria which was located on the ground floor of the hospital. There he distinguished himself enough to earn a military scholarship to study mechanical engineering at the University of Texas while still on active duty, matriculating in September 1961. Poor grades resulted in Whitman’s recall to active duty as an enlisted man in February 1963. As. [15], Some mistook the sound of shots for the noise from a nearby construction site,[9] or thought that persons falling to the ground were part of a theater group[24] or an anti-war protest. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. [29] Once there, he found other officers already doing that, so he went to the tower. But when a shooter took aim at the University of Texas of Austin campus from the top of the UT tower on August 1, 1966, no one had any reference point for such an attack. [26], Following the shootings, the tower observation deck was closed. In 2001, he died one week after discontinuing dialysis. [15], Wilson was the first person Whitman shot from the tower. [31], Officers attempting to reach the tower were forced to move slowly and take cover often, but a small group of officers including Houston McCoy began making their way to the tower via underground maintenance tunnels. Anxious to get away from him, Whitman—who had a high IQ but a checkered academic record in high school—chose as his escape route not college but the Marines, in which he enlisted in July 1959. Four men who were at the UT Tower shooting met with the news media in Austin on August 2, 1966. [7]:38, Martinez, Crum, and Day searched the 27th floor, where they found M. J. Gabour; Day removed him. One final victim died from his injuries in 2001. Entering the Main Building, Whitman found the elevator did not work. Was it the hero of legend, or a second officer in the tower, who says that he fired the crucial shots? Discharged from the Marines in December 1964, he returned to the University of Texas in 1965, this time to study architectural engineering. The older Whitman, a fervid gun lover, did, however, take great pride in the precocious expert marksmanship of his eldest son, who was taught from a very early age how to shoot. In Chicago Richard Speck murdered eight student nurses, and 19 days later, on August 1, Charles Whitman gunned down people from the tower at the University of Texas at Austin, killing 16 and wounding 31. He assumed he would find a team of officers there, but when he reached the 27th floor, he found only Cowan, Crum, and Day. [39] The tower's clock was stopped for 24 hours beginning at 11:48 a.m.[40] Whitman, like his mother (who was physically abused by her husband), suffered greatly under his domineering, explosive father. "[25] [12], Whitman then packed into his footlocker a Remington 700 6-mm bolt-action hunting rifle, a .35-caliber pump rifle, the M1 carbine, a 9-mm Luger pistol, a Galesi-Brescia .25-caliber pistol, a Smith & Wesson M19 .357 Magnum revolver, the shotgun, of which he had sawn off the barrel and buttstock, as well as more than 700 rounds of ammunition. Texas Tower shooting of 1966, also called University of Texas clock tower shooting, mass shooting in Austin, Texas, on August 1, 1966, in which Charles Whitman, a student and ex- Marine, fired down from the clock tower on the campus of the University of Texas, killing 14 people and wounding 31 others (one of whom died years later from complications related to his wounds). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Omissions? The UT tower shooting was the first mass shooting at an American college campus. Della and Marina Martinez, visiting from Monterrey, Mexico, were both wounded by bullet fragments. In 1966, on a hot Texas summer afternoon, ex-Marine sharpshooter Charles Whitman, 25, boarded an elevator in the University of Texas Tower with a cache of weapons, intent on deadly mayhem. [9] In a note he professed his love for both women, saying he had killed them to spare them future humiliation and—in the case of his mother—suffering. Over the next 96 minutes he shot and killed 14 people (including an unborn child) and injured 31 others. Jeff Wallenfeldt, manager of Geography and History, has worked as an editor at Encyclopaedia Britannica since 1992. The University of Texas Austin campus during and after the Charles Whitman UT Tower shooting on Aug. 1, 1966. The former Marine sharpshooter took 15 lives during that attack and left many others gravely wounded. Heard, a press reporter and veteran Marine, was shot in the arm. Four minutes after Whitman began shooting from the tower, a history professor was the first to telephone the Austin Police Department, at 11:52 am. The incident was one of the worst mass murders in a public area in the history of the United States and the first to unfold “live” in the era of mass media. The UT tower shooting lasted for approximately 96 terrifying minutes. Meanwhile, Whitman was suffering from feelings of rage, confusion, and violent impulses, which he documented exhaustively in writing. McCoy, one of the Austin police officers who killed University of Texas Tower sniper Charles Whitman on Aug. 1 1966, was being interviewed on … The victims included UT students, faculty and Austin pedestrians across the … [L]:19 While at UT, Whitman met and married his wife, Kathleen. Adorned with a single crucifix, it reads "Baby Boy Wilson / August 1, 1966".[43]. [26], Allen Crum, a 40-year-old retired Air Force tail gunner,[27] was a manager at the University Book Store Co-Op. [1], Charles Whitman, 25,[2] was studying architectural engineering. TOWER, a documentary mixing animation and live-action, is the story of America's first mass school shooting, at the University of Texas, Austin, 1966. Earlier in the day, Whitman had killed his wife and mother. Please select which sections you would like to print: While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. | Jacob Villanueva ‘A guy’s up there’ Crum was no ordinary citizen. [7]:31 Whitman wheeled his equipment toward the Main Building of the University. Whitman shot through the six-inch space between the columns of the wall and killed Speed. Hernandez was shot in the leg around 11:45 am while delivering newspapers on his bicycle near the West Mall entrance. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. At the time, UT did nothing to acknowledge the horrors of that day. Mattson, Ehlke, and Herman were walking to lunch when a bullet blew off part of Mattson's wrist. The various bullet holes were repaired and the tower was reopened in 1968. A shot struck Avelino's left arm near the shoulder, shattering the bone. From left: Allen Crum, Austin police officer Ramiro Martinez, Houston McCoy, and Jerry Day. The 11,700 pound granite stone is the new UT Tower shooting memorial. One victim recalled that as she lay bleeding a passerby reprimanded her and told her to "Get up. The psychiatrist advised Whitman to return for further counseling. This event was the most violent university shooting until … In the end, Whitman killed 17 people and injured dozens more. The UT tower shooting along with the Watts riots of the previous year produced a national consciousness about the need for new specialized training and resources for responding to violent events. At 12:08 pm Speed was with another officer and others behind decorative balusters on the South Mall when he was shot through a gap in the masonry. McCoy fired again, hitting Whitman on his left side. Many sources identify the Texas Tower shooting as the first mass murder in American history, but some academics and researchers have argued that dozens of such shootings took place in the United States between the beginning of the 20th century and Whitman’s rampage. [L]:176, Around noon, Officer Ramiro "Ray" Martinez was off duty at home[28] when he heard about the attack on the news. Texas Tower shooting of 1966 The site of the Texas Tower shooting of 1966, showing the locations of the victims when they were shot. That day was August 1st, 1966. Charles Joseph Whitman (the inclusion of his middle name in much of the reporting from the period echoed earlier references to John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and presaged references to later high-profile killers) grew up in Lake Worth, Florida, as the eldest of three sons of an overbearing plumbing contractor father and a devout Roman Catholic mother.