University of Texas massacre - rarely brought up?


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Cesiumsponge
January 3, 2013, 09:39 PM
I was curious...every time there is a renewed gun debate or a school shooting, the usual topics from all sides come into play. I never really see the University Of Texas massacre come up where Charles Whitman took the lives of 16 people from atop his tower. Eventually he was pinned down by armed civilians and law enforcement, which gave cops the chance to make their way up and ultimately end the confrontation. Seems like a fine example to bring up in a gun debate.

Is it because it happened in 1966 and not many people are familiar with it? It was deadlier than Columbine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman

They encountered Whitman holding a rifle in each hand. Botts observed a dark stain on the floor beside the reception desk, and later said she thought it was varnish. She said she thought Whitman was there to shoot pigeons. Whitman and the couple exchanged brief pleasantries before the couple left.
Wow! Times really were different back then. Chit chat with some strangers with a rifle in your hand, talk about shooting pigeons, and be on your way.

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BlueBronco
January 3, 2013, 09:53 PM
I have seen it come up once in a while. There was movie based on it, although the took some liberties with some of the facts. I think the ban nuts don't like to bring it up because it doesn't fit there talking points.

They don't bring up Pearl High School (Mississippi 1997) either because an assistant principal kept a terrible situation from becoming a Columbine 2 years before Columbine. There are plenty example of spree shooters being stopped. A saw an FBI report that evaluated 93 spree shootings. It was prior to Aurora and Ct. When uninterrupted, 14+ people were killed on average and many wounded compared to a little over 2 when interrupted. I need to track that thing down. Of course the TX tower guy was interrupted and the body count and wounded was high and was in that report.

EBK
January 3, 2013, 09:53 PM
Just a wild guess but I would imagine this has something to do with it.

"Eventually he was pinned down by armed civilians and law enforcement....."

AlexanderA
January 3, 2013, 10:10 PM
I was there (on the campus) when this happened. Being familiar with gunfire, I realized immediately what was happening, and left the area and sought cover. Many of the victims were shot in the open, some because they were curious to see what was happening, and exposed themselves. As the picture became clearer, lots of guns materialized from students' dorm rooms and apartments, and people began firing back, pinning Whitman down. The final takedown was by one policeman (Officer Martinez), with a shotgun, and one volunteer civilian, with an M1 carbine.

1911 guy
January 3, 2013, 10:41 PM
If I recall what I read correctly, quite a bit of the return fire came from the marksmanship team.

Also, Martinez assumed the other man was a police officer. Exchanging bits of info and talking as they worked their way up the stairs, Martinez realized the man wasn't a police officer and deputized him.

I read Martinez' account and he recalled him saying something to the effect of "let's go, but don't you think I need to be deputized at least?"

Cesiumsponge
January 3, 2013, 10:46 PM
Wow AlexanderA, so what was the media and public opinion like immediately following that event? Was it the circus we have today when a tragic, rare event happens?

Looks like our resident Art Eatman was there too: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=308139

heeler
January 3, 2013, 11:03 PM
As a Texas resident I am quite familiar with it.
As a teenager I watched it on the news that hot as hell summer afternoon.
And during that newscast I also saw scores of American citizens with scoped hunting rifles aiding the police in trying to take the deranged Charles out.
Well one valiant Austin policeman along with one Texas civilian finally did just that....Take him out and end his rain of terror.

ol' scratch
January 4, 2013, 08:13 AM
Gun control is about gradually chipping away at our rights. That is part of the reason that Fudds bother me so much. They don't seem to understand that. The gun control groups have a playbook and are following examples set in other countries. It is a step program where they take just a piece at a time. There are idiots in the UK who are still screaming for gun control. We have a few things going for us. Number one is the Constitution and not just the second amendment. Number two is that they are tipping their hand a little too much. This is starting to get the Fudds (at least the two I have in my family) to wise up. The third is that the people who came out at least online originally are starting to cool down a little bit and develop a level head concerning this. The funny thing is that our side is just getting warmed up. I really think that the political fall out for the Democrats will be huge concerning this if they get their ban.

Carl N. Brown
January 4, 2013, 08:41 AM
At least one admittedly anti-gun message movie, "Targets", was based on the Charles Whitman, Texas Tower incident. The book "Cult Movies" makes it clear "Targets" was intended to promote gun control and minimize gun owners.

I recall a TV docudrama recounting of the Texas Tower incident that also went out of its way to denigrate the civilians who responded by shooting back. IIRC a number of them were ROTC and a some of the guns used to pin Whitman down and stop the killing were civilian marksmanship carbines obtained through the NRA.

Deltaboy
January 4, 2013, 08:53 AM
The main reason I Don' t bring it up is because they found in the Post mortem he had a brain tumor. He unlike the rest had a unknown medical reason for going nuts.

Just think how far the guys at that Colorado HS had ran into a HS ROTC Rifle Team.

BCCL
January 4, 2013, 09:01 AM
The final takedown was by one policeman (Officer Martinez), with a shotgun, and one volunteer civilian, with an M1 carbine.

That's how it ended in the movie "The Deadly Tower" with Kurt Russell, which was pure fiction.

In reality, Officer Ramiro Martinez fired 6 shots from his revolver and missed with all six, Officer Houston McCoy (who died last week at 72), then killed Whitman with 2 shots from a .12 gauge shotgun. Martinez then grabbed the shotgun and shot Whitman's corpse once and ran down the stairs claiming "I got him"

A grand jury later ruled Houston McCoy's shooting of Whitman justifiable.

Baba Louie
January 4, 2013, 09:02 AM
Incident in question does not fit certain talking points so is ignored.

Magoo
January 4, 2013, 09:32 AM
My parents were on campus that day. They don't have a lot to add to the story as they hunkered down behind the library through the event.

waterhouse
January 4, 2013, 09:41 AM
In reality, Officer Ramiro Martinez fired 6 shots from his revolver and missed with all six, Officer Houston McCoy (who died last week at 72), then killed Whitman with 2 shots from a .12 gauge shotgun. Martinez then grabbed the shotgun and shot Whitman's corpse once and ran down the stairs claiming "I got him"

Officer McCoy's funeral was yesterday. May he rest in peace.

JustinJ
January 4, 2013, 09:43 AM
Another example of violent video games causing violent exacts. Oh, wait...

Baba Louie
January 4, 2013, 09:49 AM
Another example of ...Damaged goods wreaking havoc. Seems to be a never ending struggle does it not?

ball3006
January 4, 2013, 10:05 AM
Simple, he used bubba fudd's hunting rifle instead of an "assult" rifle.....plus, an armed citizenery took him out.....chris3

holdencm9
January 4, 2013, 10:08 AM
I have long known about this story, but yes, it doesn't fit talking points of the anti-crowd, so they don't bring it up. We should mention it often. Whether he had a brain tumor or not doesn't matter. He went nuts and started shooting. Armed CIVILIANS kept him pinned down.

It is interesting that all the armed civilians didn't start shooting each other and a bloodbath didn't ensue. Also the police didn't show up and mistake the armed civilians for the shooter and shoot them. All things the antis say would happen.

89yj
January 4, 2013, 10:39 AM
Wow AlexanderA, so what was the media and public opinion like immediately following that event? Was it the circus we have today when a tragic, rare event happens?

I wasn't alive when it happened so I have no first hand experience.
But, I do have an old Life Magazine from August 12, 1966 that has an article on Charles Whitman. It seems like they were pointing towards him being a troubled young man with mental health issues. A university psychiatrist is quoted as saying Whitman had visited him and even mentioned "thinking about going up on the tower with a deer rifle and start shooting people". Whitman's father is quoted saying" Those guns aren't to blame for anything".

BCCL
January 4, 2013, 10:43 AM
Officer McCoy's funeral was yesterday. May he rest in peace.

AMEN, he passed on the same day as Norman Schwarzkopf, we lost 2 heroes that day. :(

Double Naught Spy
January 4, 2013, 11:01 AM
I have long known about this story, but yes, it doesn't fit talking points of the anti-crowd, so they don't bring it up. We should mention it often. Whether he had a brain tumor or not doesn't matter. He went nuts and started shooting. Armed CIVILIANS kept him pinned down.

It is interesting that all the armed civilians didn't start shooting each other and a bloodbath didn't ensue. Also the police didn't show up and mistake the armed civilians for the shooter and shoot them. All things the antis say would happen.

Despite your sarcasm, it is interesting that the armed civilians didn't cause any additional harm (or the cops) given some of the wild shots on the clock tower. No doubt there were shots that completely missed the building.

As for the police not confusing the civilians for the shooter, it helped that the shooter was identified as being in a very specific, localized location where there were no other civilians. It isn't like when a shooter is reported to be in a mall, in a school, or wandering through the halls of 1 of 2 securities trading companies across the street from one another.

They don't bring up Pearl High School (Mississippi 1997) either because an assistant principal kept a terrible situation from becoming a Columbine 2 years before Columbine.

Yep, Myrick, a commander in the Army Reserves stopped Woodham as he was LEAVING the school, trying to make his escape in his car.
http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20123633,00.html

holdencm9
January 4, 2013, 11:12 AM
Despite your sarcasm, it is interesting that the armed civilians didn't cause any additional harm (or the cops) given some of the wild shots on the clock tower. No doubt there were shots that completely missed the building.

As for the police not confusing the civilians for the shooter, it helped that the shooter was identified as being in a very specific, localized location where there were no other civilians. It isn't like when a shooter is reported to be in a mall, in a school, or wandering through the halls of 1 of 2 securities trading companies across the street from one another.

Surely there would be some errant shots, but depending on the trajectory, would have had little chance of hurting anyone. It is a risk assessment always. Will my possibly errant shot be more of a risk than letting some mad man take aim and fire on innocent civilians unabated? That's always the question.

Logistically, yes, it helped that he was in a well-known, localized spot. However I always disagree with the sentiment that there will be CCWers shooting other CCWers in the midst of an active shooter situation. Or cops shooting the CCWers (although I understand this situation almost happened in the Tuscon shooting, it didn't). Usually the guy ducking under cover and taking aimed shots is the good guy. The guy walking around, shooting indiscriminately is the bad guy.

SlamFire1
January 4, 2013, 11:29 AM
I have been reading the book “Propaganda” by Edward Bernays. Even though this book was written in 1928, what it says about shaping and molding public opinion is timeless.

Basically, as said earlier, the Whitman shooting does not fit within the agenda of the anti gunners, so the message they use to shape the American consciousness will not have anything positive about armed citizens.

THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.

I highly recommend reading this book, it is available as a PDF here:

“Propaganda” by Edward Bernays

http://www.whale.to/b/bernays.pdf

Double Naught Spy
January 4, 2013, 02:58 PM
Surely there would be some errant shots, but depending on the trajectory, would have had little chance of hurting anyone.

Every year people are injured and killed when guns are fired into the air during 4th of July and New Years, so the "little chance" is still very real and does actually happen, and certainly could have happened in the middle of Austin.

barnbwt
January 4, 2013, 11:03 PM
...a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.


Hold the phone--isn't that the mission statement of MSNBC? ;)

TCB

holdencm9
January 5, 2013, 12:04 AM
Every year people are injured and killed when guns are fired into the air during 4th of July and New Years, so the "little chance" is still very real and does actually happen, and certainly could have happened in the middle of Austin.

Could have. Did not.

See, again your perception of risk is the issue. I don't have the stats on number of people killed by bullets fired in the air, but it is tiny. Does it happen? Yes. Does it make the news? Yes. But it is still a tiny chance by any stretch of the word. Getting shot by someone in a tower who is shooting AT you is much higher. I know the mantra is every bullet has a lawyer attached to it, but come on. A few errant shots into the sky is better than a dozen aimed shots at innocents on the ground. Also, did we ever confirm there were errant shots of is that pure conjecture?

jmace57
January 5, 2013, 12:13 AM
My family (while returning from vacation) happened to go through Austin the day after, looking at the broken windows and chipped concrete in the stores along 6th Street. My Dad, who was an Army infantryman (and a sharpshooter) stood there looking up at the tower saying "those were some helluva shots". Pretty strong language from him.

OptimusPrime
January 5, 2013, 12:37 AM
I bring up Whitman with every fence-sitter that I come across. It's a horrific example of how a law isn't going to fix a darn thing, but better diagnosis of mental illness is. He didn't use anything fancy, or scary, machine guns or bayonet lugs or flash suppressors; just one crazy man with nothing to live for in his opinion. Hunting rifles and a shotgun and a vantage point, another lone wolf intent on holding out til the end. And that end was brought to him by brave armed men before it got worse than it was. Police and civilian armed men.

Double Naught Spy
January 5, 2013, 03:24 PM
Could have.

That was my point given the accuracy of those shooting at him. Like you said, they didn't kill anybody, not even Whitman.

My family (while returning from vacation) happened to go through Austin the day after, looking at the broken windows and chipped concrete in the stores along 6th Street. My Dad, who was an Army infantryman (and a sharpshooter) stood there looking up at the tower saying "those were some helluva shots". Pretty strong language from him.

Roy Dell Schmidt was shot at over 500 yards and was killed. Billy Speed was shot through a 6" gap between to ballisters and was killed. Whitman did make some very shoot shots from 29 floors up. But he did have some luxuries including raised vantage point, protected position, capable weaponry, and the skills to use them.
http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/mass/whitman/tower_6.html

Armybrat
January 5, 2013, 04:01 PM
I was there too:

Memories of the Whitman shooting

I was there watching it from the NE corner of 21st & Whitis (the Dobie Mall building and the Ransom Center hadn't been built yet), which was a small parking lot at the time. The roomie & I walked out there after eating lunch in the Holiday House which fronted on the Drag. While eating, we had seen the ambulances howling up the street & wondered what was going on.

We heard a few "booms", then somebody yelled at us to get down...that "they" were shooting people from the Tower. Crouching behind a car, we could clearly see Whitman leaning over the parapet taking aim & firing downwards. Most of the time it was a loud "boom", but once in a while we heard a rapid "pop pop pop" - when he used his smaller M1 carbine. We could see the ricochets knocking sprays of stone off the parapet wall.

After a short while we could hear lots of return gunfire coming from nearby buildings & apartments. Hundreds of rounds were going off, so it sounded like a big firefight - similar to the 'Nam newsclips on tv. That's when he ducked down behind the wall and started shooting through the drain spouts. A small Cessna plane made a pass around the Tower, but veered off sharply - that's when Whitman fired at it (supposedly hitting it once).

This went on for a while longer, while some of us speculated that the shooter (s) would jump off the Tower to end it. Then all of a sudden we saw a white flag being waved above the wall. Like a bunch of idiots, hundreds of people, including us, rushed up to the Mall. By the time we got there, the dead & wounded had been removed by brave individuals under fire. There were numerous pools of blood all over the area, and the crowd meticulously avoided stepping in them. Next to the ground floor exit in the west side of the Tower the crowd was pretty thick. Some random sights there: A Daily Texan reporter with his notepad, press card...wearing a steel army helmet...a Texas Ranger holding upright a Thompson submachine gun...a student sitting up on the wall who shouted "Let's hang him when they bring him out" (didn't know he was dead at the time). Unknown to us, the bodies from the Tower were removed from the east entrance,

After an hour or so, there wasn't much to gawk at, and the stunned crowd thinned out, so we went back to our apartment and turned on our tv to watch the news reports. That's when we heard the well-known local news anchor, Paul Bolton, choke up when his grandson's name was read from the list of the dead. Remembering that personal tragedy still brings tears to my eyes.

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