2021 marks 55 years since deadly UT Tower Shooting

August 1 marks 55 years since the warm Austin morning when just before noon 25-year old engineering student and former marine Charles Whitman took an elevator to the top of The University of Texas Tower and killed 16 people including an unborn child and injured 31 others in the span of 96 minutes. 

One victim originally injured in the massacre died from complications related to his injuries in 2001, considered the 17th death of the shooting. Whitman had already killed his wife and mother earlier that morning before he made his way to the UT Campus.

The shooting remained the deadliest shooting on a college campus for over 40 years until The Virginia Tech Shooting in 2007.

A special report aired by KTBC that day shows students ducking behind vehicles, running from gunfire, and even some brave individuals running into the gunfire to save those who were wounded and lying in the open.

Brehan Ellison, a Vietnam veteran, was one of the men risking his life to save others on that day in 1966. KTBC news editor Charles Ward was able to ask him in the middle of all the terror: "What did you have to do?"

"Run hard and keep low," said Ellison as gunfire echoed around him. "The last one he was dead . . . he was hard to pick up. Too limp. Not like someone who's knocked out. "

Claire Wilson was the first person shot by Whitman from the tower. Wilson, who was 8 months pregnant, would survive but her unborn child was killed. 

"My son Cirock says 'Mom, we'll get to raise that baby in heaven, I'll have a brother,'" said Wilson when she spoke with FOX 7 in 2016.

The massacre came to an end when APD officers Ray Martinez and Houston McCoy, assisted by other officers and a civilian, reached the observation deck and killed Charles Whitman. 

According to the Austin History Center, a malignant tumor was found in Whitman's brain after his death. It could not be determined whether this was a cause for his violent behavior

In 2016 a memorial was placed in the Tower Garden to stand as a tribute to those that lost their lives that day, including the shooter's wife and mother. 

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