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The Neal Spelce Collection, No. 4 - UT Tower Shooting

Neal Spelce

Sound | 1966

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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 sixteen people and wounded thirty-one. Also dead were his wife and mother who he had stabbed to death earlier in the day. Neal Spelce, a young reporter for Austin's KTBC-TV, filmed these clips which would air in local and national news coverage. Smoke is seen coming from the observation deck of the tower as Whitman fires at civilians on the campus. Students and faculty run for cover and risk their own safety helping the wounded. The gruesome aftermath is all too real in several scenes; bodies lie prone in the mall and several are quickly wheeled out of the main building covered with sheets. Until the 2007 violence at Virginia Tech University, Whitman's deadly rampage was the worst campus shooting in U. S. history.
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.