This Day In History: Charles Whitman Kills 15 In The University Of Texas

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On this Day in History, one of the most infamous mass killings took place. On this day in 1966 in Texas, some 14 people are shot dead in an unprecedented incident. Charles Whitman with an arsenal of  guns and ammunition goes to   the top of a 300-foot tower at the University of Texas. He then began to shoot at the students and staff that were gathering down below. Whitman managed to shoot in total 46 people and of these he killed 15 and wounded 31 others. Another victim died from their wounds in 2001.

Whitman had killed both his wife and mother  before he went on his rampage at the University. He was eventually shot to death by some local  police officers. Among the brave officers who killed him was Ramiro Martinez, who charged up the stairs of the tower to neutralise the attacker.

Whitman came from an apparently comfortable middle-class background. However, his father was an abusive man and often physically beat his son. Then Whitman joined the Marines and initially he had a brilliant career. He was a fully trained marksman.

1200px-Main_Building_at_The_University_of_Texas_at_Austin
The Tower at the University of Texas

He began to suffer serious mental problems after his mother left his father in March 1966. After this day he  told a doctor that he was fantasising about killing people.  He even told the doctor that he wanted to go to the University and to kill people.  Remarkably, the doctor did not relay this information to the police.

Whitman began to write in his diary constantly. He wrote that he feared that he was going mad. He also went on to write that he hated his family and that he was going to murder them. That night he went to his mother’s new home and he stabbed and shot his mother. He then went home and killed his wife.

That morning he set out to kill people at the University of Texas. Previously he had studied architecture at the University but he had been forced to drop out because his strange behaviour was disrupting his studies. This together with his mother leaving his father sparked a crisis in his life and seems to have sent his life into a tailspin. Whitman was out of control.

An expert marksman, Whitman was able to hit people as far away as a quarter of a mile away. He shot at people for a full hour and a half before he was shot dead.

After his death, an autopsy was carried out. It was discovered that he had a huge tumour in his brain and this was the ultimate cause of his mental disorder and his murderous rampage.

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