UT tower shooting remembered 48 years later - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

UT tower shooting remembered 48 years later

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Forty-eight years ago terror rang out on the University of Texas campus. Around noon Charles Whitman climbed up the tower with several weapons. He started shooting down below striking dozens of people.

The horror lasted for 96 minutes. When the rampage came to an end 14 people were dead and 32 others injured.

"Every time this day comes by every year I think about it," said John Fox.

On August 1, 1966, Fox was at a friend's house near campus when he heard about the shooting. He ran to campus. When he arrived he saw the carnage and victims lying on the ground.

Fox went back to campus on the 48th anniversary to take part in a memorial service organized by current UT students.

"It's so great to see people who weren't even born at the time of this event come together and have such compassion and empathy for that event. It's nice to see that transfer from one generation to the next," said Fox.

"I realized how little students on campus actually know about it and how relevant it was because it was one of the first big mass shootings," said Hannah Whisenat, a UT junior. Whisenat is the president of Students of the World which is an on campus organization.

Family members of the victims, survivors and witnesses of the tower shooting gathered for the service. With students they walked around the tower to each of the locations where the victims were killed.

"I thought I was shot," said Claire Wilson James. She was one of the victims who survived. The shooting killed her unborn child.

"He came and picked me up and carried me to get help. For years and years I decided he was an angel," said James.

That angel, she learned, was John Fox. James met Fox just last year.

"The bells were going off every 15 minutes. She's been there 15 more minutes and 15 more so eventually we ran out and pulled her off the mall," said Fox.

The two share a unique bond and both hope to see a larger memorial on campus.

"There's a small memorial but I'd like for there to be more. Maybe it would help someone who is feeling pressured and then of course the families," said James.

It's a dark day and one they don't want anyone to forget.

"It brought out the best and the worst," said James.

"Every time I see the tower I think about it. It will always be that way," said Fox.

A documentary about the shooting called Tower will be released for the 50th anniversary.

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