Police officer who helped take down UT Tower shooter receives honorary plaque at Travis County judicial building

Jennifer Xia

Ramiro “Ray” Martinez, a former Austin police officer, was honored for his heroism during the UT Tower shooting at a plaque unveiling rededicating a county building in his name.

Elected officials, Martinez’s family members and other supporters came to officially honor Martinez at the Travis County Ray Martinez Office Building rededication ceremony last month. Martinez and Houston McCoy, who passed away in 2012, were the two APD officers who made it up the Tower and took down the shooter, who killed 17 people from the top of the Tower in 1966.

According to KUT, the building was named after Martinez in 2004 but nothing on the building indicated who he was or why the building was dedicated to him.

“I had been to that building multiple times but I didn’t make the connection (to) our Ray Martinez that went up on the Tower that day, so that’s what was so important about that rededication,” said Don Verett, assistant chief of police and chief of staff at the UT Police Department.

Martinez, who was at home off-duty when he heard about the shooting, said he was proud to have the name on a plaque.

“I feel that I am a representative of those people that gave their all that day, the police officers and civilians,” Martinez said. “They always remember the outlaw, but they don’t remember the hero.”

The Ray Martinez building contains a courtroom and offices for Raúl González, Travis County Justice of the Peace for Precinct 4. González said he pursued the creation of the plaque because he wanted to formally recognize Martinez’s actions. 

“I’m just honored that I get to serve in this building named after him, that people know this is their justice court,” González said.

During the ceremony, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini said the shooting happened while she was studying journalism at UT. She said Martinez exemplified courage when he took it upon himself to go up to the Tower.

“You don’t forget those sights,” Zaffirini said. “You don’t forget those sounds. I remember even sitting in the bathroom while (my husband) showered, too terrified to be alone.”

Theatre studies sophomore Brenda Vazquez said it is important that Hispanics such as Martinez are recognized for their contributions to the world.

“A lot of us do have a heart of gold,” Vazquez said. “When I hear people actually recognizing it, I feel proud because sometimes there is a stigma within Hispanics. I try and be proud of my heritage and what I am.”