Page 3


past me in the hall, yelling for a policeman. He kept saying, “That man is dead! That man is dead!”, as if he couldn’t quite believe it. I got into the Academic Center auditorium through a back door and found a wounded girl stretched out on a table, being cared for by some students. Upstairs, from the protected walkway, I could see a girl crouched tightly against the broad base of the flagpole in front of the Tower, where the sniper was now shooting. Directly across the wide sidewalk from me an elderly woman stood trapped in a sheltered corner of the Main Building steps, face in her hands, sobbing. Almost every tree had someone crouched behind it. The shooting had turned into a fullscale battle. The sniper’s rifle boomed less frequently, but now there was answering gunfire from everywhere. I could feel the shock of a large-caliber rifle firing somewhere nearby, and I saw pieces of stone falling from the top of the Tower as bullets struck the parapet. How strange it felt to stand there in such comfortably familiar surroundings, hugging a marble pillar I walked past every day, listening to the constant banging of rifles and the sound of real bullets whacking and whining off stone. The worst feeling, and one I think everyone felt, was that of helplessness the feeling of being pinned down, with no way to help the people out on that blistering hot concrete, and no way to fight back. Finally an armored truck arrived, the first evidence of any kind of organized action. More than an hour had passed and people were starting to relax, to accept the gunfire and casualty reports as routine, Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorported the State Week and Austin ForumAdvocate. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Editor and General Manager, Ronnie Dugger. Partner, Mrs. R. D. Randolph. Associate Editor, Larry Lee. Business Manager, Sarah Payne. Contributing Editors, Elroy Bode, Bill Grammer, Larry Goodwyn, Harris Green, Dave Hickey, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Larry L. King, Georgia Earnest Klipple, Al Melinger, Robert L. Montgomery, Willie Morris, Greg Olds, James Presley, Charles Ramsdell, Roger Shattuck, Robert Sherrill, Dan Strawn, Tom Sutherland, Charles Alan Wright. Staff Artist, Charles Erickson. Contributing Photographer, Russell Lee. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not them under the circumstances; the way I imagine an infantryman quickly learns to accept bullets and death as a normal part of combat. Within the glass-walled lobby of the Academic Center, the building nearest that deadly Tower, students crowded around transistor radios, listening without much emotion as the toll rose into the twenties and thirties. The expressions of shock and disbelief and fear were changing to speculation on how long the sniper could hold out, how many shots he had fired, how the police would get to him. Now that everyone understood the rules, the whole grim affair was turning into a tense game. Finally, in one dramatic move, the cops won. Without the sounds of battle and the combat atmosphere the entire episode began to seem less shocking than depressing. I watched them carry some of the blood-covered dead and wounded out of the west door of the Main Building, and down the same drive where earlier I’d stood looking up at the Tower, not realizing that those shots I saw were killing people. The thought that I had been such a good and stupid target bothered me a good deal more than the bullet through the window. It had missed. The others had not missed; they just weren’t fired at me. DURING THE NEXT few hours I began to learn all that really had happened, and, for the first time, began to appreciate the enormity of the crime and the uniqueness of that one man with a rifle. A crackpot, a nut, a maniac almost never possesses the skill of a Whitman, or the selves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. Subscription Representatives: Austin, Mrs. Helen C. Spear, 2615 Pecos, HO 5-1805; Dallas, Mrs. Cordye Hall, 5835 Ellsworth, TA 1-1205; Denton, Fred Lusk, Box 8134 NTS; Fort Worth, Dolores Jacobsen, 3025 Greene Ave., WA 4 -9655; Houston, Mrs. Shirley Jay, 10306 Cliffwood Dr., PA 3-8682; Huntsville, Jessie L. Murphree, Box 2284 SHS; Lubbock, Doris Blaisdell, 2515 24th St.; Midland, Eva Dennis, 4306 Douglas, OX 42825; Odessa, Enid Turner, 1706 Glenwood, EM 6-2269; Rio Grande Valley, Mrs. Jack Butler, 601 Houston, McAllen, MU 6-5675; San Antonio, Mrs. Mae B. Tuggle, 531 Elmhurst, TA 6-3583; Cambridge, Mass., Victor Emanuel, 33 Aberdeen Ave., Apt. 3A. The Observer is published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd., biweekly from Austin, Texas. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $6.00 a year; two years, $11.00; three years, $15.00. Foreign rates on request. Single copies 25c; prices for ten or more for students, or bulk orders, on request. Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas 78705. Telephone GR 7 -0746. Change of Address: Please give old and new address and allow three weeks. manner. He was cool, efficient, and totally rational in every way except his impulse to kill, and in that he was determined, unflinching, and extraordinarily competent. He planned his deed with more good sense than most people can bring to bear on the job of packing a suitcase for a trip. He executed his plan with no sign of indecision or compromise. Another sniper might have indulged himself in shooting into the bodies on the mall, or knocking out a tempting plate-glass window, or lobbing a few bullets into the Capitol or downtown Austin. Whitman did absolutely nothing for dramatic effect; he labored only to kill, in the old “one shot, one man” military tradition. When the armored car rolled in to rescue some of his victims, he wasted not a shot on the driver plainly visible to him through the bullet-proof glass, or on the truck or its tires. A friend of the driver told me Whitman fired only at the police officers trying to pick up the wounded. Earlier he shot an ambulance driver. Most madmen cannot totally escape certain deeply-ingrained qualms toward killing children, unarmed rescuers, or obviously-pregnant women. Whitman saw them in his telescopic sight and shot them. He had the right tools for the job. The 6mm Remington was ideal: a high-velocity soft-nosed hunting bullet, extremely accurate over long, clear ranges. With a fourpower scope the chief factor in hitting a distant target is the human ability to sight in and hold steady, and Whitman possessed that. He apparently even knew to allow for the downward angle of his shooting, which required less sight compensation for bullet drop because of gravity. He hit his victims mostly in the head and chest. His .35-caliber Remington pump had less effective range and no telescopic sight, but its big bullet crashes through almost anything without deflection. Hunters call it a “brushbuster.” \(A bullet from the ground disabled it as Whitman aimed through one gun, purchased and sawed off in gangster fashion on the morning of his rampage, is unexcelled for the fast, deadly,, closequarter shooting he apparently anticipated in the Tower itself. Austin police cars carry these weapons racked against the dashboard. They “clear the air” without much aiming. When finally cornered and killed, Whitman was waiting with his light, short, fast-firing .30-caliber carbine, which holds up to 30 rounds. And he was expert. In 90 minutes he fired about 150 shots. During the first 15 or so minutes very few of his bullets missed, even on moving targets, even at ranges up to 400 yards. Later, with conspicuous targets scarce and police bullets striking all around him, forcing him to bob up and snap-shoot, he still could hit. His over-all average was better than one hit out of three shots. Amazing. Other riflemen might shoot that well, but not when under emotional strain and heavy fire. Such a performance in combat would have earned him a chest full of medals instead of police bullets. The enormity of his crime seems to have THE TEXAS OBSERVER Texas Observer Co., Ltd. 1966 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South 60th YEAR ESTABLISHED 1906 Vol. 58, No. 15 August 19, 1966