13 Horrifying Facts About The University Of Texas Shooter Charles Whitman
Charles Whitman's University of Texas shooting went down in history as one of the bloodiest mass murders of the era. The incident took place on August 1, 1966, while the United States was in the midst of the Civil Rights movement and mass protests surrounding the war in Vietnam. Whitman had been a student at the University of Texas campus in Austin when he had a mental breakdown with deadly consequences. Sadly, other school shootings have taken place since, but an entire generation of baby boomers remember this as being one of the first.
Among the many chilling stories surrounding the University of Texas shooting is the fact that Whitman actually told his psychiatrist about his plan months beforehand. Other facts about Charles Whitman reveal issues surrounding his childhood, his abusive father, and his time as a Marine sharpshooter.
The "Texas Tower Sniper" will live on in infamy, as will the brutal acts of violence he committed.
He Killed 17 People And Wounded 30Photo: David From Washington DC/ CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
Whitman's killing spree lasted for approximately 96 minutes, during which Whitman shot and killed a total of 17 people. He started everything off with the receptionist on the 27th floor observation deck of the tower and then continued his rampage by killing the unborn child of a pregnant student, a Peace Corps volunteer, an electrician, and numerous students. He also wounded 30 people.
He Was Armed With Seven Guns, A Machete, Numerous Knives, And 700 Rounds Of AmmunitionPhoto: Victor9876/CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
Whitman had more than a few weapons in his footlocker, including a machete, three knives, seven guns, and over 700 rounds of ammunition. He also had a pair of binoculars, earplugs, a rope, and matches. For some reason, he had also packed deodorant, food, water, and toilet paper, as well as Dexedrine, an amphetamine that was used to treat ADHD, depression, and other disorders. He had a prescription for it at the time. As if the Dexedrine wasn't enough, he also had a bottle of Excedrine, an over the counter painkiller that contains caffeine.
He Killed His Mother And His Wife Before Calling Them Both In Sick To WorkPhoto: Charles Whitman/Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
On July 31, 1966, Whitman put his violent plan into action. He started off by writing a note requesting that his brain be studied after his death to see if he truly was mentally ill. Then, he went to his mother's home and killed her, stabbing and shooting her to death. Following this horrific act, he then murdered his wife with a knife. The next day, he called both of their employers stating that they were too sick to come into work, covering up his deeds and giving him the extra time he needed to put the next phase of his plan into action.
He Was Killed By A Few Brave Officers Who Were Almost Shot ThemselvesVideo: YouTube
An off duty police sergeant named Ramiro Martinez, as well as a six-year-veteran, Houston McCoy, snuck into the tower on the University of Texas's campus with the goal of taking out Whitman, who was still shooting at people below. Together, the two of them shot Whitman to death, finally stopping his murderous rampage. However, officers on the ground couldn't tell if either of the two men were Whitman, so they kept firing up at the tower, almost hitting Martinez and McCoy.
He Told His Psychiatrist That He Was Going To Shoot People From A TowerPhoto: Source/Fair use, / Wikimedia Commons
On March 29, 1966, during the course of his mental breakdown, Whitman told his psychiatrist that he had been considering going up the tower on the University of Texas campus and shooting people from the top of it. However, the doctor didn't think that he was serious about the threat and failed to notify authorities about it. A few months later, Whitman followed through with his threat and wound up on top of the tower with several high-powered rifles.
After Suffering Several Personal Set Backs, He Became Uncontrollably Angry At EveryonePhoto: Allison Fang/CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
By 1966, Whitman's mother had had enough of her husband's abuse and left him. At the same time, Whitman had to deal with the fact that his own wife was the breadwinner in his family (which is no big deal now, but back in the mid-1960s, traditional gender roles were still very much in play). Feeling like a failure for not having accomplished as much as he'd wanted, Whitman became severely depressed, anxious, and prone to fits of uncontrollable anger. He began to see a psychiatrist for these issues, but the drug prescribed to him - Valium - only helped curb his anxiety.