The University of Texas Main Building tower is shown on Thur
America faced a shocking new kind of terror on August 1, 1966 — homegrown in Texas! Tragically, Charles Whitman had actually shared his homicidal vision with a doctor before he went on to kill 15 innocent people. The deranged gunman confessed that he had dreamt of climbing the famous 307-foot-tall Texas Tower in Austin — and shooting as many people as he could! [GRAPHIC IMAGES FOLLOW...]
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On that tragic day in 1966, whacked-out Whitman turned his sick fantasy into a bloody reality by slaughtering 15 people and wounding 33 more from the landmark on the University of Texas campus. Before his terrible assault, he had already brutally killed his mother Margaret (pictured) — just like Adam Lanza
would one day murdered his mom Nancy before going on to slaughter 28 children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School!
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Whitman, however, wasn't a sick loner. He was an American engineering student at the University of Texas, with a wife named Kathy — who he stabbed to death in the morning on August 1. (His mother had been murdered shortly after midnight.) The 25-year-old former Eagle Scout then loaded three rifles, three pistols, a sawed-off shotgun, a radio, water, gasoline, 700 rounds of ammunition, a hammer and a knife into a footlocker.
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The day before the shootings, Whitman had bought a pair of binoculars from a hardware store. He would drag his horrific collection of weapons all the way to the entrance of the Texas Tower, entering around 11:30 a.m. He then uloaded his gear and took an elevator to the reception area on the 30th floor. He hit receptionist Edna Townsley with the butt of a rifle and dragged her behind a couch, where she lay unconscious with a fatal wound.
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Whitman then barricaded the door — and when six visitors tried to push through, Whitman greeted them with blasts from his shotgun. Two died, and two were wounded. Whitman went on to the observation deck. Using a Remington sniper-style rifle, he began to cut down victims walking on the campus and neighboring streets - some as far as 500 feet away!
Sniper Shot Shatters
Pregnant Claire Wilson, 18, was his first target. He shot the teen in the stomach, killing her child. Then he wounded Claire's fiancé, 18-year-old Thomas Eckman, as he attempted to help her.
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6mm shell csing Fired by Texas Tower Shooter Charles Whitman
Whitman's next victim was 33-year old mathematician Robert Boyer, and he then wounded student Devereau Huffman in the right arm. After firing at secretary Charlotte Darehshori, who attempted to help Boyer and Huffman, Whitman shot students David Gunby and Thomas Ashton.
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He then fatally shot Adrian and Brenda Littlefield — and next wounded Nancy Harvey and Ellen Evganides. Nancy was five months pregnant. She and her unborn child both survived the shot to her hip. The killer next wounded a newspaper delivery boy before shooting 17-year-old Karen Griffith.
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Thomas Karr was a senior at UT, and was fatally shot in the back as he returned to his dorm after finishing an exam. Whitman next shot and wounded basketball coach Billy Snowden — shooting from a distance of over 1,500 feet. He then aimed for 21-year-old Sandra Wilson, who would later survive being shot in the chest.
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Three more were wounded before Whitman took aim at students hiding behind a barricade, killing engaged couple Paul Sonntag and Claudia Rutt. He also wounded Carla Sue Wheeler before killing Harry Walchuk. Reporter Robert Heard was shot in the arm as he ran towards policemen arriving on the scene. 18-year-old freshman John Allen was wounded in the forearm as acquaintances and he looked toward the tower from the University of Texas Union.
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Austin patrolman Billy Speed was shot through a six-inch spacing between the columns of a wall where the officer had taken refuge. For his final kill — after nearly two hours of raining death from the sky — Whitman shot 29-year-old electrical repairman Roy Schmidt from 1,500 feet.
Finally, four policemen (including Officer Ramiro Martinez, far right) and civilian Allen Crum made it into the tower, surprised Whitman, and killed him. Sadly, the deaths weren't over. Karen Griffith would pass away seven days after the shooting. David Gunby, who had been shot by Whitman in the lower back, died of his wounds in 2001, with the coroner ruling his death a homicide.
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Whitman had left behind a suicide note: "I do not quite understand what it is that compels me to type this letter. Perhaps it is to leave some vague reason for the actions I have recently performed. I do not really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I cannot recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts."
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An autopsy conducted by a neuropathologist at Austin State Hospital later discovered Whitman had a brain tumor about the size of an acorn — but medical experts could not determine if that touched off the terrible rampage that stunned the nation.