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Survivors, Witnesses Honor Victims of UT Tower Shooting

Updated: Friday, August 1 2014, 06:23 PM CDT

Forty-eight years ago today, a man opened fire from the top of the UT tower, ultimately killing 17 people. The shooting is considered the first mass murder in a public place in the U.S. Today students honored the victims with a special memorial.

Claire Wilson watches as current UT students honor the child she lost. On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman shot Wilson, who was eight months pregnant, and her boyfriend.  "The last thing Tom said was, 'baby, what's wrong,'" said Wilson.

Thomas Eckman was one of 12 people who died in front of the tower. "I thought that was the end," said Wilson. "I just remember looking up and thinking it was the end."

"I remember seeing bodies across the street," said UT Professor Alfred McAlister.

The UT Tower Shooting is now widely referred to as the first school shooting.

"I think it's important that we recognize it and sort of evaluate why it happened," said UT student, Hannah Whisenant.

Whisenant, who serves as President of the UT Chapter of Students of the World, organized the memorial to bring witnesses, survivors and her peer together to remember the victims formally for the first time.

"I realized it had never really been recognized and it's something that a lot of students now don't know about anymore," said Whisenant.

Wilson says it's the type of gathering she's longed for for years. "I do think that it's really good that people can talk about it."

The hope now is for a monument honoring the fallen. "I'd like to see something and I don't know what, but something that's more permanent and meaningful as a memorial here," said McAlister.

By Deeda Payton

Survivors, Witnesses Honor Victims of UT Tower Shooting


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