The Guns of Charles Whitman


Art Eatman
February 24, 2003, 06:05 PM
We had a thread at TFL, and folks were relying on memory and the "I heard its". I ran across this article from the Austintatious newspaper:

There's other stuff as well...


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February 24, 2003, 06:24 PM
This proves it - all rifles 6mm cal. or larger are "sniper" rifles. ;)

El Tejon
February 24, 2003, 06:32 PM
Art, thank you very much for posting this. With the help I printed it!

This will help when I go view the scene of the murders in April. I have that Time-Life book on him (purchased for $1 at a city library sale). Anything else I should read before I go down?

February 24, 2003, 07:06 PM
It says a 9mm pistol but doesn't say which kind. Does anyone know?

February 24, 2003, 07:30 PM
When daughter was checking out colleges a couple of years ago, we took the UT parent "tour" on a hot August afternoon. After starting inside at the base of the tower, the little female tour guide directed us outside to the first stop about 100 yards to the south. Then proceeded to explain that the day we had selected for the tour was the 35'th "anniversary" ... :eek: The rest of the walk was somewhere between yellow and orange :(

El Tejon
February 24, 2003, 07:40 PM
firestar, I'm at home at the FBP now. The photo I'm looking at of the 9mm looks like a surplus Lug with funky (steer horn--Tejas afterall--maybe) aftermarket grips. Laura Foreman, et al, editors, MASS MURDERERS 34 (1992) (the text on page 31 describes it as a "9-mm Luger pistol").

Gray, wow, they have tours of the murder scene? Or just University of Tejas guides?

February 24, 2003, 07:46 PM
El Tejon - Focus was on UT campus tour. Top of tower had been closed for years. At the time, there was talk of possibly reopening. "Jumpers" also a consideration. Daughter did select UT, so I'll ask her next time we talk. Although someone else here on THR may repond sooner ... Art a old Longhorn?

El Tejon
February 24, 2003, 07:59 PM
THEY CLOSED THE TOWER!?!? Oh, man, Ranger Brade thought it was opened last we talked. Man, that stinks. I was looking forward to going up. Oh, well, at least I can walk around.

"Jumpers"?!?! What good will that do? Don't they have parking garages or office buildings to jump off of in Austin? Or did they repeal the law of gravity in Austin?:D

February 24, 2003, 08:55 PM
Musta been August of '01 when we did tour and tower was closed then. Not sure about now.

Defiance of "law of gravity" in Austin? You must be kiddin'. If there is wierdo law, you can bet Austin would be the among first to have it. Ya must sometimes understand, there is Austin, then there is the rest of Texas ...

El Tejon
February 24, 2003, 09:01 PM
That's what I was teasing, Grey. You know how Leftists like to issue commands to the future or Nature, create the New Man and all.

I can hardly wait to go. Five weeks, five weeks, I can make it, I can do this, five weeks . . . .

Art Eatman
February 24, 2003, 11:22 PM
I was pretty much raised on "The Forty Acres" of UT, as a little-bitty. My mother taught in the Psych Dept. when it was in Sutton Hall. I went there for my freshman year; went in the Army, and then wound up in Florida. But I bleed Burnt Orange. :D My grandfather went there in 1903, and my father graduated in 1933.

At the time of the shooting, I had just moved from an apartment a block and a half from the fountain on Universtity Avenue. I went over to check for any last mail, and sorta got caught up in the festivities.

Weird scene: I stood in the cover of the Baptist Church at 19th and Univ. and played MP. People wanted to stop their cars and stare up at the Tower! I yelled and cussed and made MP motions to keep the idiots moving.

I guess that's part of why I'm a cynic about Universal Suffrage.

:), Art

February 27, 2003, 09:10 PM
Was he really a murderer?WE heard he was bad diseased with a real horrible tumor in his head on the brain. A very sad day for all concerned . Thanks

February 27, 2003, 09:34 PM
Or did they repeal the law of gravity in Austin?
Sounds like something those T-sippers would try to do...

Sorry, had to get my jab in there. My old aggie roommate did a paper on the topic, I'll find out if he remembers the exact types of guns that were used (if he ever knew). I think you're right about the tumor, but he is still considered a mass murderer, or at least was when I took intro to criminal justice a couple years ago.

February 27, 2003, 10:30 PM
Was he really a murderer?WE heard he was bad diseased with a real horrible tumor in his head on the brain. Yes, he was a murderer.

Yes, he had a brain tumor.

Lots of people had brain tumors and never harmed anybody.

February 27, 2003, 10:33 PM
Thanks; I understand.

February 27, 2003, 11:07 PM

The inventory report says 9mm Luger.


February 27, 2003, 11:08 PM
I assume he used a 6mm Remington cartridge? The inventory report only specifies '6mm.'

Is there another 6mm I am not aware of?

Also, the Remington 700 rifle was introducted in 1962. Anyone care to guess what version of the 700 this was (1966)?


February 28, 2003, 04:59 AM
The Ballad of Charles Whitman
(Kinky Friedman)

He was sitting up there for more than an hour,
Way up there on the Texas Tower
Shooting from the twenty-seventh floor. Yahoo!
He didn’t choke or slash or slit them,
Not our Charles Joseph Whitman,
He won’t be an architect no more.
Got up that morning calm and cool,
He picked up his guns and walked to school.
All the while he smiled so sweetly
And it blew their minds completely,
They’d never seen an Eagle Scout so cruel.

Now won’t you think for the shame and degradation
For the school’s administration
He put on such a bold and brassy show.
The chance looked right, it’s adolescent
And of course it’s most unpleasant
But I got to admit it was a lovely way to go.

There was a rumor about a tumor
Nestled at the base of his brain.
He was sitting up there with his .36 Magnum
Laughing wildly as he bagged ’em.
Who are we to say the boy’s insane ?

Now Charlie was awful disappointed
Else he thought he was anointed
To do a deed so lowdown and so mean.
The students looked up from their classes
Had to stop and rub their glasses,
Who’d believe he’d once been a Marine.

Now Charlie made the honor roll with ease,
Most all of his grades was A’s and B’s.
A real rip snorting trigger squeezer
Charlie proved a big crowd pleaser
Though he had been known to make a couple C’s.

Some were dying, some were weeping,
Some were studying, some were sleeping,
Some were shouting “Texas # 1!”
Some were running, some were falling,
Some were screaming, some were balling,
Some thought the revolution had begun.

The doctors tore his poor brain down,
But not a snitch of illness could be found.
Most folks couldn’t figure just-a why he did it
And them that could would not admit it,
There’s still a lot of Eagle Scouts around.

There was a rumor about a tumor
Nestled at the base of his brain.
He was sitting up there with his .36 Magnum
Laughing wildly as he bagged ’em.
Who are we to say the boy’s in
Who are we to say the boy’s in
Who are we to say the boy’s insane ?

February 28, 2003, 12:14 PM
I understand that a number of citizens showed up with long guns and took Whitman under fire. Do not know how effective the counter-fire was in keeping Whitman from continuing his rampage.

This seems to be part of the story that gets left out in some accounts.

February 28, 2003, 01:54 PM
That was a horrible day for Texas and the nation. Although Whitman had a tumor he is classified as a mass murderer as he should be. That day changed law enforcement just as the Miami shootout did. Good post Art.

February 28, 2003, 04:51 PM
Thought I would chip in as a UT Alum and Austinite.

The tower has been reopened, I believe you're charged a small fee to go up though to cover the cost of the guard they have on duty at the top. I graduated in '98 which is just before they reopened it IIRC.

There was considerable discussion of the tower's observation deck status in the Daily Texan my senior year. People felt graduating seniors should be allowed a freebie trip to the top at the minimum. The tower remained open in the 1970's after the Whitman incident. It was closed more due to jumping suicides in the 70's then the shootings.

I've seen the bullet holes in George (There's a Washington statue on the south mall) and often walked around the tower between classes wondering what it most have been like that day. There's a lot of open ground in all directions from the tower with minimal cover aside from the occasional statue or fountain.

I did some googling, and apparently you can get a tower tour via reservation.

Hook Em!

El Tejon
February 28, 2003, 04:58 PM
dran, thanks for the info!

February 28, 2003, 06:37 PM
Good info onthis so far. All I can add is I saw the movie with a young Kurt Russel playing Whitman & Pernel Roberts flying around in a plane returning fire.

Art Eatman
February 28, 2003, 07:13 PM
col. Homer Garrison was the then-head of the Department of Public Safety. At the next week's meeting of the Austin Rotary Club, he commented to my father that had it not been for citizens' rifle fire through the drains on the south parapet face, Whitman would have been able to control the only (south) doorway out onto the observation deck.

In the last 15 or 20 minutes before he was killed, he was limited pretty much to the northwest corner of the deck.


February 28, 2003, 07:54 PM
I remember it well. I was soon to start my junior year in high school just down the road in Killeen.

There were hero's and victims that fateful day. Some people, mainly students, were shot. But, so were others who were walking along "the drag"

As I recall it, the it was an off duty LEO and another LEO who worked their way up to the 27th floor or the tower and onto the observation deck. Before going onto the deck, they basically crawled over the first of Whiman's victims who either worked at the observation deck visitor center or who were guests that fateful day,

I can't image the courage it took for the two fine fellas to wander out onto the deck to confront Whitman. They did and they probably saved many more lives.

Rest assured, there has been no forgettin' about it here.

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