BLOODY ANNIVERSARY: UT Tower shooting remains a dark day in history


AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – Thursday marks a grim anniversary for the University of Texas at Austin.

On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old architectural student and former Marine, climbed to the observation deck of the iconic Tower on the UT campus and, armed with three rifles, two pistols, and a sawed-off shotgun, opened fire on people below just before noon.

Over 96 minutes, he fired about 150 rounds, shielded from return gunfire below by the outer walls of the deck.

He killed 14 people that day and wounded more than 30. One of the wounded died week later and one died decades later of injuries connected with his bullet wounds.

The shooting ended when Austin police officers Houston McCoy and Ramiro Martinez made their way to the top of the tower and cornered Whitman, shooting and killing him.

Investigators discovered that earlier that day, Whitman had killed his mother in her apartment and wife in their Austin home.

The Tower shooting remains one of the worst mass shootings in American history. It was broadcast on radio and television and became a major national and even international news story. It spurred the creation of SWAT teams across the country as a means of dealing with such shootings.

The event scarred the UT campus and community for decades after. The school first tried simply to ignore or erase the memory of what had happened that day. Ultimately bowing to reality and history, though, the school erected the first public monument to the victims in 1999 and held a memorial service.

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