Tower (2016) Script

This is Neal Spelce in Red Rover on the University of Texas campus.

This is a warning to the citizens of Austin.

Stay away from the University area.

Stay away from the University area.

There is a sniper on the University Tower firing at will.

Bah da bah da da da Bah da bah da da da Bah da bah da da da Monday, Monday Bah da bah da da da So good to me Bah da bah da da da We had taken an anthropology test so we got out of class early that day.

My boyfriend Tom and I were drinking coffee at the Chuck Wagon at the Student Union.

Hey, Claire.

We knew that if we didn't go quickly and put another nickel in the meter, we'd get a pink slip and we already had two.

I think if you had three, you couldn't park on campus any longer.

Sometimes it just turns out that way Oh, Monday mornin'

You gave me no warnin'

We were kind of disagreeing.

Well, he was worried that I wasn't getting enough nutrition for the baby.

And I said, "Well, Tom, I had orange juice this morning. "

I just felt this...

This huge jolt.

Like I'd stepped on a live wire.

Like I'd been electrocuted.

- Tom said... Baby!

And reached out for me, and then...

What're you doing? Get up from there.

Please call a doctor! Get your books.

Please! Help us!

- Every other day Every other day Every other day Every other day of the week is fine I had a paper route around the University of Texas.

It was the biggest route in Austin and everybody wanted to get that route.

I had my cousin with me.

Sometimes he would help me with my paper route.

I was not supposed to work that day.

The regular guy was supposed to get back from vacation that day.

At about 10:00 that morning, the paper called me and asked if I could do that route one more day.

But Monday mornin'

Monday mornin' couldn't guarantee

That...

I was either filling out reports or... just taking it easy a little bit.

Listening to my radio. On the Country Western.

I do remember one song that played that morning was "Waterloo. "

Waterloo I kinda felt that after that day...

Well, here's your Waterloo coming up for somebody.

Every puppy has its day Everybody has to pay Everybody has to meet his Waterloo It was hot that day.

It must've been 100 degrees.

I started making my deliveries and I heard some sounds, like popping.

It sounded like firecrackers.


Austin, Texas August 1st started out as a typical summer day in Austin, Texas.

And it was a day that you sat around, frankly.

And we were trying to decide...

Okay, what do we cover today?

Main Tower... University of Texas...

Then the radio called my number and I was trying to make out what they were saying, but it just wasn't coming through.

I... I can't... I can't make out what you're saying.

You keep cutting out now.

- He said somethin' 'bout... 44... 108...

Finally I decipher University of Texas.

So... I just said I was headed toward the University of Texas.

We had police radios, of course, throughout the newsroom.

And then, within seconds...

There's a guy on top of the Tower and he's shooting.

Shooting at people, and they're dispatching officers as best they can to the scene.

Police operator. This is Michael Hall, there's just been a gunshot right in front of the Tower.

I heard what I thought were two firecrackers.

And I thought, "Somebody still has firecrackers from the Fourth of July. "

Police operator.

Hi, this is the Department of English at the University.

Someone has been shot, we believe, outside.

Someone is shooting from the Tower.

I was in Shakespeare class when it started.

And we all ran to the windows of the English Building.

We just stood there peering out over each other's shoulders.

I realized that there was someone shooting from the Tower and that if I could see him, he could see me.

There are snipers. Somebody has shot four different people.

Yes, ma'am, it's been reported.

She says four people have been shot up there so far.

As I ran behind the car, the shot from the rifle sounded like it was almost in my ear, and I could hear the bullet ricochet.

When I asked if anyone had been hit, someone said five people, including a little boy on a bicycle.

When I got shot, we both fell down.

You're gonna be okay.

You're gonna be okay, honey.

He's gonna be okay.

My God, what happened? He's been shot.

I had been working at the University of Texas Co-Op since 8:30 A.M.

I noticed across the street a small group.

What's going on? Looks like a fight.

I got across the street and found the boy had been shot.

All right, let's stop this bleeding here.

And so I tried to stop the flow of blood.

You okay?

You're gonna be all right.

I heard reports that I recognized as gunshots but I could not tell where they were coming from.

I didn't know what had happened at all.

I thought that I felt the baby kind of... fall to the side?

So I thought he probably wasn't alive any longer.

You know, by the eighth month your baby's moving a lot and... after I got shot, the baby never moved.

"Tom?" I called out to him.

Tom...

But Tom never said another word.


You know, I... I thought it was already over with.

Lawman gets there, and by then it's usually over with, you know?

Texas You know that we love you And we praise you We want you to know

Then I, I finally realized something was happening that I ain't ever seen before.


I just thought... There's a thousand windows up there, and a thousand Black Panthers.

A revolution.

And the hair just stood up on the back of my neck.

And I must say I was scared.

It was bigger than me.

There's a guy on top of the Tower and he's shooting.

Shooting at people.

I told the disc jockey on duty. I says, "Give us some news intro music and throw it to me. "

And I'll take it from there.

I began my broadcast as I was driving up to the Tower.

"This is Neal Spelce in Red Rover

"on the University of Texas campus.

"This is a warning to the citizens of Austin.

"Stay away from the University area.

"There is a sniper on the University Tower

"firing at will. "

Well, I was just expecting another routine day.

I had dropped my daughters off at daycare, my wife was at work, and my shift didn't start until 3:00 P.M.

...Clean look to your carpets.

This Austin vacuum rebuilt Hoover beats as it sweeps...

This is a KLRN news bulletin.

A sniper with a high-powered rifle has taken up a position on the observation deck of the Tower on the campus of the University of Texas.

So I got on the telephone.

- Police operator. Hey, this is Martinez.

- Do they need anybody? Pardon me?

And I called the station.

This is Martinez. Do they need anybody?

Captain Martinez is on. Do you want him to come out?

Uh, yes, Sir.

He'd, uh, he'd like you to come on out if you will.

Okay, I'll be right over.

Okay, that's at the University.

Then I called my wife at work and I said, "Dear, I'm gonna go there.

"But don't worry 'cause I'm gonna go work traffic. "

I couldn't get back across the street because I figured I might get shot myself.

I moved on to the next building.

I tried to find a telephone to call my wife.

My wife knew it was my lunch hour and I knew that she would worry.

So...

I knew that if I could make it to the Tower that I could make contact with the store...

And my wife.

What a day for a daydream What a day for a daydreaming boy I went to high school at Austin High.

Graduated May of '66.

I wanted to get freshman English out of the way so I started at the University of Texas in the summer.

And even if time ain't really on my side It's one of those days for taking a walk outside We went to class that morning, and then during the lunch break I went over to play chess with James Love.

And fall on my face On somebody's new mowed lawn James and I had graduated from Austin High together in May.

And I went over to where he lived at the STAG Co-Op.

Since I woke up today It's starring me and my sweet dream We were listening to the Top 40 and playing chess in his room.

We interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin from ABC Radio.

They said somebody was on top of the Tower with an air rifle.

- Air rifle? Shooting with an air rifle.

Didn't sound dangerous to us. Sounded exciting.

You wanna go check it out? Yeah, let's go.

Things may go and things may stay We were just walking down the middle of a road and a guy waved at us.

"Get out," you know? "Get under cover. "

"Get out of the street. "

And that was the first sign we had that things were "bad" wrong.

By the time that James and I had walked onto campus...

I'm sure over a dozen people had been murdered... and we didn't know it.

This is a KLRN news bulletin.

A sniper with a high-powered rifle is firing at persons within his range.

All Austin-area residents are warned to stay away from the University of Texas area.

It's an unbelievable sight.

The serene University of Texas campus, a temperature approaching 100 degrees now, and a madman located on top of the University Tower firing and shooting at any movable target that he can see.

The shot that hit me bypassed me and ricocheted off the building.

Everybody was in a state of panic.

- Then what happened? Then everybody ran.

It's like a battle scene. It's like... There he goes!

And another shot. There are two different kinds of shots.

Apparently police are returning the fire now.

I got lucky, considering what happened to other people.

There's no report as to who this man may be, or what he's doing up there, or what prompted this apparent madness.

We passed the steps to the Undergraduate Library.

As we were about to the corner, he shot.

And I laid there for about...

Oh, probably 15 or 20 minutes.

We didn't know who was being killed.

Students on campus were being shot.

People were dying.

It was just chaos.

I was looking through the binoculars when all of a sudden I realized, he's pointing that rifle right at me.

I couldn't believe how close I'd gotten to being shot.

We can see the movement under the clock on the south side of the University of Texas Tower, and police are returning the fire.

There's this guy who's shooting at everyone he can see.

What is the matter with him?

The man is located on the University Tower observation deck.

Below the clock which now shows 12:25 and is shooting. He's shooting our direction.

There was a lot of suffering, and we were helpless to do anything about it.

I see all of this blood.

And I think...

"I didn't get a chance to say good-bye to my mom and dad, or anything. "

The ambulance driver got a call.

Right around the corner, there was another person that they wanted him to pick up.

Looking out that window, it was just a direct shot.

And of course I'm thinking, "If we don't get out of here quick, "I'm gonna get shot again. "

He knocked a boy off a bicycle.

He shot windows out of the Texas Union.

More ambulances are screaming up and down the University drag, and the ambulances are apparently carrying those persons who we had reported as lying on the sidewalk shot in front of the Varsity Theater and other buildings along the University drag.

The University area has been cordoned off and so far we've had reports of people being shuttled to the hospital via ambulances from practically all the funeral homes in the city.

I didn't know at the time, but I was losing a lot of blood.

I felt like I was melting.

The heat was just deadly.

The pavement was so hot that it was burning the backs of my legs.

There was a bunch of students, and I just hollered out...

"Anybody got a rifle?"

Some old boy said he did.

Do you wanna? Yeah.

I took the rifle first.

But, see, I've never shot a scope.

I was raised a poor boy, and .22 the biggest thing I ever shot.

I was shaking.

And what it was is...

Well, it wasn't a nervous shake...

It was the wobble. Yeah, the wobble.

I just couldn't get the crosshairs to center in on nothin'.

That boy said he could and...

Lord knows he had better eyes than I did.

We were in Parlin Hall when Billy Speed was shot.

My God, he hit the cop.

Billy Speed.

I glanced down and I saw Billy get hit.

Billy!

We have a man here, just came from the base of the Tower.

What's your name please, sir? Leland Ammons.

Better duck down a little bit here.

You were standing beside the policeman when he was shot?

Yes. Was there just one shot fired?

Uh, well, he was... He opened fire on us when he saw the, uh, policeman with a shotgun converging.

The policeman was walking, he shot him through the, uh, support near the statue of Jefferson Davis.

The shots came near you at the time, though?

Oh, yes. There were shots all around.

A couple of students crept out the back door and made their way to him.

A girl had taken off her slip and was using it to try to stanch the bleeding, but he was bleeding a lot.

The guy that was with her had gotten a little tin cup and had filled it with water.

It was just like the cowboy movies, right?

We, uh, did all we could for him.

But whether he was still conscious when they carried him off in the ambulance, we don't know.

Maybe it could be a superficial wound.

Billy!

I saw him get hit here.

So I, I thought he was gonna be all right, you know?

That was the moment that separated the brave people from the scared people.

I knew that there was no way that I was going to go out there and help him.

I didn't wanna get shot.

That was a defining moment because I realized I was a coward.

I met up with Billy not a couple hours before that.

We just talked a little while.

Just a good ol' boy conversation.

He was gonna quit. He said...

He was gonna work a couple more months and then he was gonna quit and go back to college.

And that's just what he was gonna do.

And uh, you know, his wife just had a baby and everything.

- If I see someone... He asked me. He said...

Do I shoot him?

And I said...

"You shoot the shit out of him. "

Before I got into the Tower, and this is not too nice, I took up a position behind a column at the Academic Center.

And I gave him the I-talian digit.

He fired once at the column and hit it.

But he didn't do it again.

I waited until the individual started firing on the east side of the Tower...

And then ran across the street into the Tower Building.

You could see the bodies lying on the campus.

On the Main Mall.

And we knew then that there was nothing that could be done from that office.

So we were inextricably drawn closer.

We got up to the statue of Jefferson Davis.

People say that that statue should be taken down, that that statue has no place being there because of Jefferson Davis and all he represents.

But at least on that day, it gave me a little shelter.

Across from the Main Mall, there was about a dozen students there as well, all looking at the bodies laying there.

And it was frustrating, I guess.

Something has to be done, but if I go out there?

I might die.

It was like a frozen snapshot.

Obviously some people were still alive and hiding behind small things.

A couple people seemed really... dead.

I've never seen a dead body.

I didn't care if they bombed the Tower.

I just wanted a plane to come and take that guy out.

What else did you see as you came through the campus?

Did you see any other injured persons?

There's several people laying out on the Mall at this time.

Three of them may be shot, and the others may just be laying there.

A woman was lying on her back on the Mall, and she was obviously pregnant and in obvious pain.

It was hard to watch her and to know that no one could get to her without being shot themselves.

Under the base of the Tower, there were a lot of people there.

And they were yelling.

They were saying, "We've gotta help that pregnant woman!"

And then somebody else yelled out, "No, we've gotta help the ones that there is still hope for. "

So I thought...

Well...

I probably wasn't gonna get help.

Has any effort been made to try to get those persons out?

Another shot. He's still firing repeatedly from the University Tower.

I was trying to figure out what was happening.

I didn't feel pain.

It felt more like something really heavy

was pressing down on me.

I thought it felt like an invasion from outer space because I felt like I'd been shot by some kind of antimatter gun.

It felt like that's what was happening.

That I was just... dissolving.

Then at some point a girl ran up.

Please he... Are you all right?

Let me help you. She came up and kind of knelt over me.

And her hair... It was red and coming down.

Go. Go.

Get down.

What's your name?

It's Claire.

Claire?

I'm Rita.

I'm here with you now, okay?

Her name was Rita.

I tried to call the store and my wife.

The lines were busy.

I saw Officer Day. He was alone.

I went up to him and I offered my help to him.

Let's go this way. All right.

As it went on, I moved forward a little bit more.

Kind of inching around, getting a little bit different viewpoint, that sorta thing, as we kept broadcasting.

I think it's kind of a natural instinct.

"Hey, I gotta get closer. I gotta see what's going on. "

We are not sure that the police are returning the fire, but we do hear the shots and we do...

But I wasn't, believe me...

I wasn't trying to put myself in harm's way.

Under the clock on the south side of the University of Texas Tower, and police are returning the fire.

I saw this airplane. circling the tower.

It was a single-engine small airplane.

But the drafts of the heat and the wind, the airplane just couldn't get a steady shot of the sniper.

The Austin Police Department, they didn't have weapons that would reach from the ground to the top of the Tower.

It was like a war.

There were gunshots coming from everywhere.

At one point, I saw a civilian carrying a deer rifle coming from behind me and running toward the Tower.

I don't know where these vigilantes came from, but Parlin Hall was filled with civilians with huge guns and they began to shoot back.

There was massive testosterone.

This was an average citizen who heard my report on the radio and decided to come help.

We didn't know it at the time, but what was happening was my radio broadcast...

The feeds were made to the radio networks and to all the other news outlets around the country.

At approximately 12:15, the phones at KTBC began to ring with requests for phone reports to radio stations all over the North American proper.

Reports were recorded for radio stations in Anchorage, Alaska, Halifax, Nova Scotia, San Diego, California, and even from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Repeating... A sniper with a high-powered rifle has taken up a position on the Tower at the campus at the University of Texas.

To bring you a special bulletin from KTBC...

All over the United States, radio stations were calling in to get a report of what's going on in Austin.

You are looking at the University of Texas Tower in Austin live.

There is a sniper or more than one sniper located on that ridge right there under the clock.

One boy was shot while sitting in the Union through the window.

Two others have been reported shot on the drag, Guadalupe Street.

There are people hiding behind trees all over the University of Texas campus.

Several are pinned down behind retaining walls in front of the main building.

People are warned to stay out of the University of Texas area.

This is a live camera, coming to you from KLRN Channel 9.

I really didn't know what to expect.

University Tower observation deck...

Below the... Below the clock, and is shooting.

He's shooting our direction.

We just saw a puff of smoke, he's firing again.

It's a battle now.

It's a battle between the sniper and the police.

I could hear all the shooting.

Hear the sirens.

I knew it was a disaster, so to speak, because the only ones with sirens were ambulances.

I saw Officer Martinez there at 21st Street.

Martinez! Hey, Officer!

And I hollered out to him, but he didn't hear me.

I tried to keep myself from being able to see the top of the Tower because I knew if I could see the top of the Tower, the sniper could see me.

I ran until I got to the South Mall by the Jefferson Davis statue.

There were wounded people...

and dead people,

people whose conditions I did not know, lying there on the sidewalk.

There was a pregnant woman that was twisting and wilting in the hot sun.

My training in the army had taught me you establish a command post right away.

Then your organize an assault team.

I thought maybe I could go into the Tower and assist the people that were going there.

My mission was to get into the Tower.

Don't worry.

We're gonna be okay.

I'm tired.

Yeah, it won't be much longer now.

Don't worry.

We lay there and just talked...

Which was kind of wonderful because it kept me conscious.

And I don't know what would've happened had I been unconscious.

Where did... Where did you go to high school, Claire?

I think we tried to talk about who I was and who Tom was.

Claire, what classes...

What classes are you taking this semester?

I'm taking anthropology...

With Tom. Tell me about Tom.

Tom Eckman.

I met Tom Eckman, Thomas Frederick Eckman, when I was beginning the sixth month of my pregnancy.

Yellow is the color And I was visibly, noticeably pregnant.

In the morning He was trying to figure out whether I was pregnant or just chubby.

When we rise I thought he was beautiful.

- That's the time That's the time He was kind of amazing and wonderful.

I don't know, we were just... in love.

You know, just really, totally connected to each other.

He just talked to me about everything.

About his whole life.

In the morning He laughed a lot.

Played the banjo, which was really cool.

He wanted to be a poet.

- That's the time That's the time

- That's the time I love the best And we were so happy.

We were just really, really happy.

Blue is the color of the sky We just couldn't stay apart, so he moved in with us.

In the morning When we rise I don't know, we just fell in love and...

As it turned out, we decided to register for anthropology together.

Claire, can you hear me? Just breathe.

Stay with me, Claire.

Hey.

Can you hear me? Stay with me, Claire.

Claire? Yeah?

Can you hear me? Yeah.

Yeah. That's a good girl.

You're okay.

I picked up the phone and dialed the first number.

I got a busy signal because everything was jammed.

I just needed to get upstairs and find out what the game plan was.

Oh, my God. I'm heartily sorry for having offended thee.

I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment, most of all because they offend thee.

My God, you are all good and deserving of all my love.

I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

What's going on, Jerry? Hell, I don't know.

It's good you're here.

90s, I need a unit to meet the UT police at the Security Building.

Yeah, this is McCoy. Go ahead.

We need a unit to go to the UT Security Building and they'll go with him to the 27th floor.

Uh, okay, you said the campus security booth?

I'm meeting other officers?

25 to statewide.

10-4, I'm headed that way now.

Here comes Connor, Shoquist, Sheppard, and Moe, and they had teargas guns.

And I asked Phillip. I said, "Did you bring any shotguns?"

And he said no.

Wished he had.

Claire? Claire?

Can you hear me still?

Look at me, Claire.

Look at me.

She made sure to keep me talking so I wouldn't lose consciousness.

Don't worry. We're gonna be okay.

But it was getting harder and harder for me to answer.

Stay with me.

- Claire, just look at me. But she was persistent.

She kept asking me questions.

It's okay, Claire.

It was beautiful.

A selfless act.

I know it hurts, but just hold on a little longer.

You know, the sun was directly overhead.

I was dressed in all black, like an idiot.

And I suddenly began to feel dizzy.

Nauseous.

I was sick to my stomach, and I was losing my coordination.

She was so, so pregnant.

I could see her move. I knew she was shot and hurt.

I crawled underneath the hedges into the shade, where it's a lot cooler and quieter.

It was endless waiting. Endless terror.

Disappointment and hopelessness that you're not able to do anything to make it stop or to help the people that are suffering.

Every 15 minutes...

The bell would ring from the top of the UT Tower.

And I'd think, "That's 15 more minutes.

"15 more minutes they were out there on that hot concrete. "

I think...

I just wanted to close my eyes.

I tried not to move.

Stay still. It'll be okay, all right?

I tried to just act like I was dead so he wouldn't shoot me again.

The concrete was so hot that at some point I just decided, "I can't take it anymore. "

When I came out from under those hedges, I knew something had to be done.

Someone had to go out there and get 'em.

I just remember looking up at the sky.

It was so blue.

And just thinking...

"I guess this is it.

"I guess this is the end. "

That's when I decided to go out there.

And we had to move fast. We knew that.

You can see there was a camera.

Time moved strangely. Slowly.

I grabbed Claire's feet. James grabbed Claire's arms.

Tom!

Tom!

I've never been more scared.

I've never been more scared.

And we ran 'em off.

We ran her into safety to behind the hedge and set her down.

And other people took her where the ambulances were.

There's a...

There's a cold spot that I can feel on my back right now.

And when I think about it, it's about the size of a grape.

It's all the w... Halfway up my spine.

It's halfway between my shoulder blades.

And it's the place I expected the bullet to come in...

If I was hit.

As I went down the stairs, the glasses slowly... I was sweating like a pig.

The glasses slowly came off my face.

Everything was turning into a complete blur for me without those glasses and I couldn't see a thing.

I had to go back out, out from cover again, to pick up my glasses.

Her boyfriend...

He was... He was also carried off.

One of those who was out of breath now after running out onto the mall rescuing those who'd been shot is Brehan Ellison of Austin, who's been in Vietnam and has been back for two years.

Brehan, how many have you gone out to rescue?

Today, two.

What did you have to do?

Run hard and keep low.

Did you have any trouble getting them up or did any shots come close to you while you were out there?

No shots came close to me. Just the last one, he was dead.

He was dead weight. He was a little hard to pick up.

Too limp, not like someone who's knocked out.

How many have you seen that are dead today?

Just one. I hope not any more.

I knew what I had to do.

Knowing I had to walk up those stairs was a lonely feeling.

Where you going?

Up.

I'm going with you.

When we reached the first landing I could see the face of a young boy.

Good Lord.

His eyes were open and he was dead.

I quickly turned around the corner and I saw a young woman, a dead young woman, lying at his feet.

And there was another woman lying there, and we... we turned her on her side to keep her from drowning in her own blood.

There was a young man that was wounded.

Slumped against the wall, still conscious.

The boy that was at the foot of the stairs saw us.

And Martinez and I asked him how many people were shooting.

And he replied, "One. "

He said, "He's outside. "

And he pointed upstairs.

So we playing for keeps?

Damn right we are.

I guess you better deputize me, then.

I looked at him and...

I thought he was an officer from some other agency.

Consider yourself deputized.

All right, ready?

I'll cover you.

We worked our way into the room...

And found a woman lying on her back behind the sofa.

Gotta keep going.

The shooting outside sounded just like rolling thunder.

You got me?

I got you.

Martinez went to the door and he had trouble getting the door open.

Well, time's passing, but...

You don't feel like time's passing.

Do you understand that?

Let's go. You need to cover that corner.

If anyone comes around there, you shoot 'em.


I'm going to cover this corner.

Your fellow officer went down this way.

Crum said, "Are you going to go out and help your fellow officer?"

Guess I... Guess I ain't got much choice now, do I?

I turned and saw an officer I knew, Houston McCoy.

All I had was my .38, so that... that shotgun looked pretty beautiful at that moment.

Get down.

The other two officers went this way.

I'll cover you. Got it.

A picture came to my mind.

My boys and my wife.

And immediately it went out of my mind.

I didn't have a fear of being killed, I really didn't.

There was no time to think about fear.

Now, I'd be a fool or I'd be a liar if I were to say I was not scared.

I was scared.

But you put that behind you.

You cannot have fear in front of you and do your job.

I just knew that I wasn't going to allow anybody to make me dead.

I heard the subject running on the walkway.

I fired one round in an attempt to stop him.

What the hell? I'm sorry!

I heard him run the other direction.

It's going to take longer to tell you than it did to do it.

I emptied my gun.

There was some firing, and then it was all over.


By the time I had emptied my pistol...

By the time I had emptied my pistol...

McCoy fired.

McCoy was pretty close... I grabbed that shotgun from McCoy and I shot him one more time as he was hitting the ground.

After that was done, my knees felt like rubber.

I felt like I had been hit by a sledgehammer.

I mean all my energy left me.

And I was shaking. Rounds, bullets were still coming up.

And I said I had enough and I left.

The campus, for all practical purposes, has been cleared.

Police got to the Tower, and are keeping all the persons in the University Tower, and the main police are coming out and walking across the campus.

The University area has been cordoned off.

I waved my handkerchief to stop the firing from down on the ground.

Once that flag waved, I knew it was over then.

It was bam-bam-bam-bam. It was just...

'Cause we had... You had dozens of gunmen firing at the Tower from all directions.

And they slowly stopped.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have this word just into the newsroom.

The sniper has been seen waving a white flag on the west side of the building.

According to reports just into our newsroom, the sniper has been seen waving a white flag on the west side of the building.

This is Neal Spelce with a bulletin from the KTBC Radio newsroom.

The sniper is dead.

This is Neal Spelce with a bulletin from the KTBC Radio newsroom.

The sniper is dead.

The firing has now stopped, and the time is 1:23.

When I said, "The sniper is dead," it was like...

It was like a big...

Sigh of relief.

The sirens all of a sudden started getting silent.

The bullets stopped.

And it was quiet.

Someone waved a flag.

And... I walked around.

There was blood everywhere.

People just surged out of the building.

We all walked up the steps.

It seems like we filled the mall.


It was a few people at first, and then dozens, and then hundreds.

I don't remember anyone being articulate about what had happened.

You know, just shock and awe.

Kind of a blankness.

They looked like they were mesmerized.

They, they weren't hugging each other.

They weren't talking to each other.

Most of them were just kind of milling, walking around, as if dazed and wondering, "What in the world has happened to my world?"

They didn't know the names of the people who had died.

And we didn't know what had happened until later that day.

It was a sad time, a very sad time.

Not only for the people who lost or were losing their loved ones, but for the whole campus, the whole town, and the state.

It was not something you would expect from our beautiful Tower.

I just sat there and watched people gather.

It was something that I had been a part of for an hour and a half.

It was done for me.

The Travis County Blood Bank has asked to please come immediately.

There is an urgent need for these types of blood...

Type O-positive, Type O-negative, Type A-positive.

I was begging them not to cut off my dress because it was the first day I'd worn it.

It was my first and only maternity dress.

It was very beautiful. Tom had helped me pick it out.

My dad was working downtown in a shoe-repair shop, and then somebody came up to him and asked him if he knew what was going on.

My dad said no. And the guy said, "Well, there's been a lot of shooting going on. "

He said, "Yeah, there's a lot of shooting going on.

"And, oh, by the way, your son has been shot and he was killed. "

He went home, picked up my mom, and the two of 'em rushed over to the hospital.

He did not want to believe that... until it was something that he-he could... that could be confirmed.

Whereas my mother was responding...

I guess like a mother.

My parents didn't find out for several hours that I was okay.

It's a madhouse here at Brackenridge Hospital.

At least 17 persons are here undergoing treatment.

We have had unconfirmed reports that two persons have died.

We have a list of the names.

These names were just given to us by the hospital administrator.

The victims have been identified as Oscar Royuela, Billy Speed, Robert Boyer, Paul Sonntag, Roy Schmidt, Billy Snowden...

Joe, hold it. Hold just a minute.

This is Paul over at the newsroom.

What was that list of names again, please?

One of the people who came rushing into our newsroom to help out was Paul Bolton.

He had gone into semi-retirement and I had taken over his position as the television news director.

Paul was working there in the newsroom when Joe read the list of names.

And Paul reacted dramatically at that point.

- Roy Schmidt, Billy Snowden... Joe, hold it.

Hold just a minute.

This is Paul over at the newsroom.

Everyone is interested in that list of names.

I think you have my grandson on there.

Go over that list of names again, please.

"I think you have my... "

"I think you have my grandson.

I think you have my grandson on that list. "

Uh...

And Joe said, "Okay. Okay, I'll do that. "

And he went through the... The list again.

And, yeah, it was his namesake grandson, Paul Bolton Sonntag.

Didn't know at the time if he'd been killed, but he was.

Frankly, I just broke up now.

I think it's...

I think it's because I have grandchildren.

I was in intensive care for seven weeks.

Rita came to see me when I was in the hospital.

How are you feeling?

I'm...

I'm, uh...

I'm doing better now. I made you something.

It's nothing much. I just...

She came and brought me a painting she had done.

I was just, you know, incredibly touched by her bringing that and, um... I think that's the only time we saw each other after that.

Only recently I've realized...

How really, amazingly brave that was of her.

Are you all right? Let me help you.

We've heard from all sorts of people involved in this how terrified they were.

And yet she came right up to me.

I mean, that was very selfless.

Why did you do that, you know?

What gave you the courage to come out and do that?

And were you afraid?

Were you afraid that you were going to get killed?

For a person to be so giving, has to go lay down on hot concrete on a 100 degree day.

Somehow, you know, that situation just pulled out that hero in her.

There's a special place in Heaven for people like that.

She's a wonderful woman.

As our various reporters and photographers were bringing the film back for processing, we were getting their stories and their information.

As we got a fuller picture of where the damage was and looked at the film, it was even more horrifying...

Than you could imagine.

KTBC Television News now presents a special program on today's mass murder in the capital city.

Here is KTBC Television News Editor, Neal Spelce.

Good evening. One of history's worst mass-murders occurred here in Austin today.

By official count tonight, 49 persons were hit by gunfire.

There are 16 dead and 33 injured.

It started last night, when a man reportedly killed his wife and his mother.

That same man apparently rounded up an arsenal and supplies this morning and then went to the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower.

It was then that terror rained down from the Tower.

Charles J. Whitman was shot down on the observation deck by two city policemen.

The policemen were aided by an Austin man, Allen Crum.

The story of how they ended the 90 minutes of terror was told this afternoon at a news conference held by Austin Police Chief Bob Miles.

Did you guys shoot as soon as you saw him?

Did anybody ask him to surrender or give up or anything before all the firing started?

No. As I said just a moment ago, Mr. Crum fired one shot into the west wall When Officer Martinez looked around the corner, Mr. Whitman had his gun leveled out and ready to shoot.

Officer Martinez had no way of knowing whether Officer Day or Mr. Crum had already come out and were in a position to be shot.

At the news conference, of course it was McCoy, Jerry Day, Allen Crum, and myself.

If you don't mind, I'll do the talking for the group.

And no. No. And if I'm wrong, Mr. Martinez can stop me and, uh, correct me on it.

The reporters asked questions and Chief Miles answered all the questions.

We were just there for show and tell, so to speak, because he handled it.

The man here beside me is Allen Crum.

He was deputized to go up on the Tower with the two policemen who ended the gun battle.

You got me?

I got you.

Mr. Crum, could you tell us how you happened to be in the Tower building in the first place?

Well I, uh...

Became involved in this when I looked out of the Co-Op window and saw a boy shot across the street.

I went across the street to investigate because I thought it was a small fight.

And as I stepped out the door, I heard the sound of shots.

And you actually went into the Tower?

Yes, sir. I couldn't get back across the street because of my fear that I might get shot myself.

So I went to the next building, and the next building.

I thought perhaps I could help them when I got over there so I waited 'till he shot from the other side of the Tower and then ran into it myself.

Mr. Crum, I know that I speak for all the citizens of Austin in expressing our gratitude to you and to the Austin police officers who put an end to the reign of terror on the University of Texas campus.

I've never known braver men.

Their decisions were correct, timely done, and accomplished in an honorable manner.

If I had to do this over again with these men, I certainly would.

The Chief of Police offered me a check from the City of Austin for one day's deputized citizen's pay.

I refused it, of course.

Somehow, we ended up out on Airport Boulevard in a vacant lot with a case of Lone Star beer.

Took off our weapons, still dressed in our blues and everything like that but...

We wasn't policemen no more.

If I would have just gone in, if I had just gone right up to that elevator, pressed that button to the top floor...

Gone in and get him done.

Go up and get him done, then Billy Speed would still be alive.

Billy!

And a lot of other, I'm sure, but...

But, but, but... didn't happen that way.

Shoulda-coulda.

But I didn't.

Shoulda, coulda. Shoulda...

Shoulda, coulda. But didn't.

So... I don't know.

Well, to say it hasn't affected me in my life, it wouldn't be a truthful statement.

But I have, um... tried.

I have tried to just forget it.

I hate to see people get hurt.

But, you know, you have to be realistic and know that these things are gonna happen.

And so you have to have the way how to cope with it, how to take care of the problems.

If somebody were to ask how you feel, well...

Well, I'd say no words.

It's something... I've been asked that before, How... how did it make you feel?

And then I kinda have to say, "Well...

"How would I describe the colors of a rainbow to a person born blind?"

You can't, 'cause there ain't no words.

Uh, I don't know.

This is the shirt that I was wearing.

And I must've weighed about 90 pounds when...

When this shooting happened.

See that little tear right there?

It's where the bullet just kinda pew.

This is my cousin, Lee Zamora.

He was with me when I was riding the bicycle and delivering newspapers at the University of Texas Tower.

I was just thinking, you know, I've never talked to anyone about this before.

And I thought, you know, maybe it'll help me, you know, do some good to sit and talk about it to someone, you know, for once.

Maybe it's something I need to do.

If you folks had not given us this opportunity, I would not have seen this cousin of mine. I do now.

Been a long time. I mean, almost 50 years.

It was just a whole different world.

Nobody ever talked about it.

I didn't meet Claire until, uh, a few months ago.

I never knew who Artly was.

I finally decided maybe he was just an angel or something.

I was 17. I'd never seen death.

I didn't know anything about guns.

It was nothing but a big, raw, gaping wound, you know, in my psyche. In my memory.

There has been a passage of time, and...

It's still raw, but it's not as raw as it once was.

A lotta times, the worst days of your lives are... personal and, uh, private.

Maybe that's why I've... I sort of...

Um, hid it inside.

I feel guilty because I didn't go out soon enough.

Oh, Artly. You know, that you were...

Artly.

Yeah, it's just... I think... I think guilt comes with events like this. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Strange guilt.

UT was closed for one day. That was it.

They came in and cleaned up the blood.

I think the university should put up a memorial.

There's still lots of family and lots of friends of people that were killed and injured.

Paul Sonntag, Claudia Rutt, Robert Boyer, Billy Speed, Roy Schmidt, Edna Townsley, Marguerite Lamport, Mark Gabour, Thomas Eckman, Harry Walchuk, Thomas Ashton, Thomas Karr, Karen Griffith, David Gunby, and my baby.

They said I could have babies, but I never got pregnant.

But I got to adopt my child.

I adopted my child Sirak.

He was born in Ethiopia and I adopted him when he was four.

And he's now 27.

I mean, Sirak was a wonderful child.

And there are times, even though his skin is brown and mine's white, there are times when I absolutely cannot remember that he didn't come out of me.

But the baby... I, I dreamed about him from the beginning and I still have dreams that I found him and I have him and I'm so happy.

But then I'd look away or something and he's gone.

I remember looking at the Tower, of course, a lot.

And from the Main Mall, you can see there's a biblical line from the Bible.

"Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. "

I've thought about it.

One of the truths I learned...

Is that there are monsters that walk among us.

There are people out there that think unthinkable thoughts and then do unthinkable things.

Through the years, he remained largely kind of wooden in my mind.

But the longer I've lived and the more I've seen, these precious little children who grow up and do sometimes horrible things, the more I have come to think of him as a very confused, very damaged young man.

He died at about 25.

There's a picture of him standing at three years old, holding a rifle on either side on the beach.

I just think of him when he was that three-year-old who would have been sitting in my lap, you know.

I'm a teacher, and I love that age.

So much promise and so much hope.

How can I hate somebody like that?

I can't hate him, in spite of the incredible damage that he's done.

I can't hate him. I just can't do that.

- Do you forgive him? I forgive him, yes.

How can I not forgive? I've been forgiven so much.

The horror of these, the sick among us, must be found in the horror of our hyper civilization.

A strange pandering to violence, a disrespect for life fostered in part by governments which, in pursuit of the doctrine of self-defense, teach their youth to kill and to maim.

A society in which the most popular newspaper cartoon strips, television programs, and movies are those that can invent new means of perpetrating bodily harm.

A people who somehow can remain silent while their own civilization seems to crumble under the force of the caveman's philosophy...

That might makes right.

It seems likely that Charles Joseph Whitman's crime was society's crime.

This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.


Somebody said to me, "Why would I want to revisit any of this?

Why would I wanna dig it up?" That it would be so painful.

It was devastating. It was devastating.

You know, I still have that loss.

But what's painful is to just not have any sense of the whole thing and not have other people that knew about it, and that could talk about what happened that day.

That's what was painful.

And so that's been very healing.

You know, just the little things make a huge difference... in a big thing like this.