Tower Sniper: The Terror of America’s First Active Shooter On Campus was released on July 26th 2016 and focused on the Charles Whitman and his rampage on the UT campus August 1st, 1966.The heartbreaking events of that day still ripple through the history of the University of Texas and in the memory of the victims of Charles Whitman. That was the day the engineering student at the University in Austin rode the elevator to the top of the 30 story university tower armed with seven firearms and a foot locker filled with ammunition, food and supplies. His ‘reverse siege’ of the campus and surrounding area lasted 96 minutes, during which he shot 46 people – 14 fatally. When the murders of his wife and mother, plus the death of a victim in 2001 from wounds sustained that day are included, the total horror was 17 killed and 31 wounded. It was the first of what has become a sorry and sorrowful chain of similar events – campus mass shootings – in the United States.
On August 1, 1966, University of Texas engineering student Charles Whitman went to the top of the 307-foot campus tower. Over the next 96 minutes he shot and killed 15 people and wounded 31. Tower Sniper: The Terror of America’s First Campus Active Shooter, by Monte Akers, Nathan Akers, and Dr. Roger Friedman, explores the history and personal experience of this seminal tragedy, enriches public memory, and advances our understanding of mass shootings that continue to haunt America.
The authors vigilantly examine the details leading up to the event, the shootings, and their half-century legacy in stark detail. In doing so the authors correct various myths that have been part of the public narrative for decades, such as a brain tumor having motivated Whitman’s actions, that he intentionally targeted certain victims, and that he attempted to make it appear that multiple snipers were active. Witness interviews, examination of primary sources, and handwriting analysis reveal information overlooked until now, including the factors that actually contributed to Whitman’s predatory behavior and how his death and autopsy were mishandled.
Employing the expertise of a clinical psychologist who was best friend to one of the shooter’s young victims, the book contrasts current understandings of trauma with the approach taken at the time, documents the long-term traumatic legacy of mass shootings, and describes how individuals and communities can successfully cope with traumatic memories. The release of this book coincides with the unveiling of the newly expanded memorial for the victims of this tragedy on the University of Texas campus, August 1, 2016, the 50th Anniversary of the shooting.
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