Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Fifty Years Later: Heroes Help Gun Victims

Daily Texan file photo

Editor's note: Five decades after the UT Tower Shooting, The Daily Texan remembers the most infamous tragedy in the University's history by republishing articles from past issues. 

— Aug. 2, 1966 —

It is good to know that in a world of hate and confusion, love for fellow man can and does exist. While the sniper, Charles T. Whitman, thought only of death, men below the Tower and in the range of Whitman dodged bullets to bring wounded persons to safety. 

Charles Ward, a news editor for KTBC, reported that Brehan Ellison, a Viet Nam veteran, helped two people, one already dead, away from the sniper’s telescopic sights. 

Ward noted that Phil Miller and John Thawley, KTBC newsmen, attempted to rescue the wounded. Whitman’s gun shots came within four feet of Thawley, Ward said. 

Austin’s ambulance services worked throughout the line of firing. 

Morris Hohmann, funeral director and business manager for Hyltin-Manor, who normally does not drive, was shot in the leg attempting to aid a wounded student. He is in the intensive care unit of Breckenridge Hospital. A University student, Turner Bratton is credited with pulling Hohmann to safety. 

Jack Stephens of 201 E. Thirty-first St. and Jack Pennington of 1806 W. Thirty-second St. risked fire to carry an injured boy and girl from the northeast corner of Hogg Auditorium to an ambulance. “We could hear the gun firing but we did’t know where he was,” Stephens said. 

Arvin Harrell of 3203 Burleson Rd. picked up a boy and girl shot dead in front of the Texas Theatre on the Drag. He and several helpers crossed an exposed area along the wood fence separating construction operations from the street. “You could just feel them (the bullets) going through you,” Harrell said. 

Late in the shooting, an armored car was called in to reach those victims of the sniper lying in open areas. Melvin Hees, 6301 Peggy St., rode in the vehicle to recover a boy wounded on the south side of the Main Building. “There was so much shooting going on I couldn’t tell whether or not we were being fired on or not,” Hees said, “I didn’t really feel scared…I didn’t think I’d get shot.”

The men in the armored car also rescued a wounded girl at the northeast corner of the Tower. 

Clif Drummond, student body president, and a friend crossed a fired-upon area to go to the aid of a wounded student in front of Snyders-Chenards on Guadalupe St. 

There were many heroes in Monday’s crisis. Yet, no one really claimed themselves as such. A man working on the construction at the Texas Theatre who went to the aid of wounded persons lying on the street in front of the building, summed it up:

“I’m not a hero…I just wanted to help them.”

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Fifty Years Later: Heroes Help Gun Victims