August 1, 1966...


Sometime between 9:30 p.m. July 31 and 3 am August 1, Charles Whitman drove to a fifth floor apartment at West 13th and Guadeloupe, where his mother, Margaret Whitman, lived. He stabbed her in the chest with a bayonet and then fatally shot her in the head. Afterward, he drove back to his home on Jewel street and stabbed his sleeping wife, Kathy Whitman, to death with the same knife. Whitman wrote in a note later found by police that he wanted to spare his mother and wife the embarrassment of the actions he had planned.

In that note, Whitman requested that an autopsy be performed upon his body. He also asked that a roll of recently taken pictures be developed. They showed him sitting on his from porch with his dog. He asked that the dog go to his wife's parents. The picture graced the cover of Time magazine on August 12, 1966.

Between 9 am and 10:30 am, Whitman bought a .30-caliber rifle, clips, and ammunition from a nearby hardware store. He then drove to the Sears store in the Hancock shopping center. There he bought a 12-gauge shotgun on credit.

Between 10:30 and 11:15 am, he packed an alarm clock, Spam, cans of peaches and sausage, Mennin deodorant, a knife, a canteen of water, a machete, 700 rounds of ammunition, a rifle he already owned, two handguns, and his two new guns into a footlocker he had used in the Marine Corps.

At 11:25, Whitman drove to the ground floor entrance of the Tower. He told a security guard that he needed to unload equipment at the Experimental Science Building, and thus obtained a parking permit.

Five minutes later he loaded his packed footlocker onto a dolly and with it rode the elevator to its top, on the 27th floor. He hauled the heavy locker up a flight of stairs to the 28th floor, where secretary Edna Townsley tended the reception area. He shot her and and hid her body. When the Gabour and Lamport families arrived, he shot them as well. He wounded two of them and killed Marguerite Lampourt and her nephew, Mark Gabour.

At 11:45, Charles Whitman began to shoot from the top of the tower (2000kb .MOV MOVIE).

At 11:48, someone called the UT to tell them that a person was shooting from the top of the tower. The City of Austin Police Department received a call to the same effect at 11:52. Whitman was walking along the open-air deck, shooting pedestrians (4000kb .MOV MOVIE) from all four sides of the tower with such speed that there was confusion as to who exactly was shooting - some people feared that there might be more than one sniper at work. Officer Jim Boutwell flew in an airplane around the tower in an unsuccesful attempt to stop the sniper. He later went on the arrest Henry Lee Lucas in 1983.

Brackenridge Hospital started receiving shooting victims at 12:12. Professor Robert Boyer was one of the first to arrive. The victims overwhelmed the capabilities of the hospital, and volunteers came in the help. Many people died before their time on that day: Paul Sonntag, Caudia Rutt, Officer Billy Speed, Roy Schmidt, Thomas Eckman, Harry Walchuk, Thomas Ashton, Thomas Karr, and Karen Griffith. Pregnant Claire Wilson also lost her baby. She was 8 months pregnant. The victims numbered a total of 31 wounded and 16 dead.

Ninety-nine minutes after he began shooting, Whitman's life was ended. Officers had used underground tunnels to travel from a nearby building into the Main Building, which serves as the base of the tower. Patrolmen Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy stormed the top of the tower. Within a few seconds, Martinez had fired on Whitman with a shotgun, and the terror was ended. Because of the extensive damage to the body (they wanted to be absolutely certain the sniper was dead, and shot him several times) it took about two and a half hours to identify the murderer. Later investigation found the bodies of his wife and mother in their homes.



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This document was created by:
Wesley Forni forndog@mail.utexas.edu and Star Gebser stargebser@mail.utexas.edu.
This site was last modified on December 6, 1996.