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Photograph of Officer Ramiro Martinez

Gordon Wilkison

Silent | 1960s

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    • About the video
    • UT Tower Shooting UT Tower Shooting
    • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
    • UT Tower Shooting UT Tower Shooting
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    Most likely shot for an Austin-based network news affiliate, this footage shows only a photograph of Officer Ramiro Martinez of the Austin Police Department hanging on the wall. Martinez was one of the first three officers to reach the University of Texas Tower observation deck during the 1966 shooting by sniper Charles Whitman. Though reports initially identified Martinez as the officer who killed Whitman, it it unclear whether he or officer Houston McCoy fired the fatal shot.
    On the morning on August 1, 1966, 25-year-old former student Charles Whitman ascended to the observation deck of the University of Texas at Austin Main Building with multiple weapons and 700 rounds of ammunition and began shooting indiscriminately on persons below. The rampage ended 96 minutes later, when Austin police officers Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy, alongside University Co-op employee Allen Crum, reached the observation deck and shot Whitman dead. Whitman, a former Marine sharpshooter, killed 14 people and injured 31 on campus. He had earlier murdered his mother, Margaret Elizabeth Whitman, and wife, Kathleen.
    Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
     
    A particularly notable moment is his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
     
    Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
     
    Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
     
    Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.
    On the morning of August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, a 25 year old former student, began shooting from the 28th floor observation deck of the University of Texas tower.  By the time Austin police shot and killed him 90 minutes later, Whitman had killed 16 people and wounded 31. Also dead were his wife and mother who he had stabbed to death earlier in the day.
     
    Until the 2007 violence at Virginia Tech University, Whitman's deadly rampage was the worst campus shooting in United States history.