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The Weidman Collection - Reopening of UT Tower Observation Deck (1999)

Larry Weidman

Sound | 1999

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  •  About the 1966 mass shooting 
  •  Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike Cox, who was a teenage reporter at the time of the shooting 
  •  Interview with Ramiro Martinez, one of the Austin police officers who confronted the sniper on the observation deck 
  •  Author Gary Lavergne 
  •  UT President Larry Faulkner on reopening the observation deck to the public 
  •  Cheryl Botts Dickerson on her encounter with the sniper 
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This 1999 television news segment retells the story of the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin amid the reopening of the Main Building observation deck to the public. Larry Weidman and Jim Cummins produced the story for the NBC News Bureau in Dallas. Cummins speaks with several individuals about their experience of the tragedy, including former Austin police officer Ramiro Martinez and survivor Cheryl Botts Dickerson. UT President Larry Faulkner explains the importance of reopening the observation deck to the public in spite of its sordid past. Broadcast on The Today Show on September 16, 1999, the segment aired alongside coverage of another mass shooting in Texas. The day before, a shooter opened fire inside Fort Worth’s Wedgwood Baptist Church. Seven people were killed and seven others were injured.
On the morning on August 1, 1966, 25-year-old former student Charles Whitman ascended to the observation deck of the University of Texas at Austin Main Building with multiple weapons and 700 rounds of ammunition and began shooting indiscriminately on persons below. The rampage ended 96 minutes later, when Austin police officers Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy, alongside University Co-op employee Allen Crum, reached the observation deck and shot Whitman dead. Whitman, a former Marine sharpshooter, killed 14 people and injured 31 on campus. He had earlier murdered his mother, Margaret Elizabeth Whitman, and wife, Kathleen.