Massacres/Mass Murder · Texas

The Texas Tower Sniper claims the lives of 16

August 1, 1966
Austin, Texas
Charles Whitman, a former Marine sharpshooter and an Engineering student at the University of Texas, kills his wife and his mother before sniping people at random from the school’s clock tower

No clear motive was presented by Whitman’s suicide note, but he did request if his life insurance was still valid to pay off any of his debts and donate the remainder to a mental health foundation. He had mentioned to friends he had struck his wife and was afraid he would become an abusive partner like his father. He also wrote he had been experiencing “irrational thoughts” and that he wished to spare his wife and mother the embarrassment of his upcoming actions, deciding, with a heavy heart, to kill them first.

In the early hours of August 1, he bludgeoned his mother to render her unconscious then stabbed her in the heart before placing her in her bed, covering her with sheets. He returned to his home and killed his wife with three stab wounds to her heart as she slept. He covered her with a sheet as well.

He cashed $250 (approx. $1,950 in 2018) in worthless checks and stopped at a few stores to prepare for the impending shooting. Armed with a Remington 700 ADL (6mm), a Universal M1 carbine, a Remington Model 141 (.35-caliber), a Sears model 60 Semi-automatic shotgun (12 gauge), an S&W Model 19 (.357 Magnum), a Luger P08 (9mm) and a Galesi-Brescia (.25 ACP), Whitman began shooting indiscriminately. In the photo, a cloud of smoke from Whitman’s gun can be seen.

He killed 13 including an 8-month-old fetus whose skull was crushed, injured two who died as a result of their injuries (one died 7 days later. The other was shot in his only working kidney and voluntarily stopped dialysis in 2001, 35 years after the shooting), and 31 were wounded. Whitman was fatally shot by two blasts of buckshot, fired by police officer Houston McCoy, which struck him in the head, neck, and side.

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