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The Neal Spelce Collection, No. 5 - UT Tower Shooting

Neal Spelce

Sound | 1966

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  •  Students and passersby run and take cover from the sniper 
  •  Charles Whitman shoots from the observation deck of the University of Texas Main Building 
  •  Brehan Ellison, a Vietnam War veteran, discusses his attempts to rescue wounded individuals 
  •  Ellison and others attempt to move those lying on the South Mall to safety 
  •  Paramedics rush inside the building to rescue those in need of medical attention 
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  •  CW: Maybe empty carbon shells. Ricocheting bullets bouncing off the top of the tower. Pieces of the tower falling down. And the battle goes on. There must have been a hit that last time, we hear people outside our building, in an area where we can’t now look safely saying “Let’s help that boy!” “Does he need help?!” “Someone must be down!” 
  •  CW: One of those who was out of breath now after running out onto the mall, rescuing those who had been shot is Brehan Ellison of Austin who’s been in Vietnam and been back for two years. Brehan, how many have you gone out to rescue? [Gunshots heard in the background] 
  •  BE: Today, two. 
  •  CW: What did you have to do? 
  •  BE: Run hard and keep low. 
  •  CW: Did you have any trouble getting them up or did any shots come close to you while you were out there? 
  •  BE: No shots came close to me just the last one, he was dead, dead weight. He was a little hard to pick up…too limp…not like the ones knocked out. 
  •  CW: How many have you seen that are dead today? 
  •  BE: Just one, I helped nine more. 
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On the morning of August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, a 25 year old former student, began shooting from the 28th floor observation deck of the University of Texas tower. By the time Austin police shot and killed him 90 minutes later, Whitman had killed sixteen people and wounded thirty-one. Also dead were his wife and mother who he had stabbed to death earlier in the day. Neal Spelce, a young reporter for Austin's KTBC-TV, filmed these clips which would air in local and national news coverage. Included is an interview with a Vietnam veteran who carried two wounded civilians to safety during the attack. Spelce's commentary provides further insight into his experience as a witness to the massacre. Until the 2007 violence at Virginia Tech University, Whitman's deadly rampage was the worst campus shooting in U. S. history.
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.