Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Charles Joseph Whitman carried an arsenal of weapons and ammunition that included a 12-ga. shotgun, a 6-mm. rifle, a 35-cal. rifle, a 30-cal. Army carbine, and two pistols, a .357 magnum and a 9-mm Luger, in a footlocker to the tower where he committed one of the worst mass shootings in history. An excerpt from The Post of August 2, 1966:
From News Dispatches
A former Marine and honor student killed his wife and mother in the dead of night, then stationed himself atop the 307-foot University of Texas tower today and shot to death 13 other persons before police killed him.
At least 32 other persons were wounded as the sniper, crouching on an observation ledge far above the crowded campus, sprayed those below him with bullets for 80 minutes.
The sniper, Charles Joseph Whitman, 24, an architecture honor student from Lake worth, Fla., surpassed the worst previous mass murder in recent U.S. history -- the slaying of 13 persons in Camden, N.J., by berserk World War II veteran Howard Unruh in 1949.
As Whitman opened fire, students, professors and visitors ran screaming for cover. A student on a bicycle was shot and toppled off. Passersby ran to help him, and began falling. A small boy was shot. Three bodies lay on the campus for nearly an hour. Rescuers could not reach them until an armored car was brought up.
Police Chief Bob Miles said crowds of curious people "just kept going to the scene. It was so stupid."
It ended when Ramon Martinez, an off-duty policeman, volunteered to help and poured six shots into the sniper with a pistol.
Sixteen persons, including Whitman, his wife and mother died in all. One was an unborn child in the womb of its mother, who was wounded on the campus.
Police said Whitman left notes near the bodies of his wife and mother, who were slain separately in their homes. The notes told of depression, repressed violence and severe headaches. Police said Whitman wrote that he was killing the women to spare them embarrassment over what he was about to do. ...
Officers surrounded the tower from as far away as seven blocks and even got an airplane, which circled the tower, spraying shots at the sniper.
"All of a sudden they all stopped -- it looked as if on signal," a witness said. "Then they all rushed the tower." ...
Chief Miller said, that as Martinez rounded the corner of the deck, the sniper turned as though to shoot.
Martinez raised his pistol and shot six times.
Most shots hit the sniper. Officer George McCoy, 26, then came up with a shotgun loaded with deer slugs. Martinez grabbed the gun away from McCoy, but not until McCoy apparently fired one slug into Whitman. A second slug, apparently fired by Martinez, also hit the sniper. ...
Whitman's body was carried from the tower at 2:15 p.m., his face covered with a bloodstained cloth.
This series is available at www.washingtonpost.com