Charles Whitman

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Charles Joseph Whitman (June 24, 1941 – Aug. 1, 1966) was a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a former Marine who killed 16 people and wounded 32 others during a shooting rampage on and around the university's campus on Aug. 1, 1966.

Whitman killed three of his victims inside the university's tower, and 10 others from the 29th floor observation deck [1][2] of the University's 307-foot administrative building; one, Karen Griffith, died a week after the shooting from her wounds.

The tower massacre happened shortly after Whitman murdered his wife and mother at their homes. He was shot and killed by Austin Police Officer Houston McCoy,[3][4][5] assisted by Austin Police Officer Ramiro Martinez.

Charles Whitman grew up in an upper-middle class family headed by a father who owned a successful plumbing contract business in Lake Worth, Florida. Whitman excelled academically and was well liked by his peers and neighbors. There were underlying dysfunctional issues within the family that escalated in 1966, when his mother left his father and moved to Texas. The elder Whitman was an authoritarian who provided for his family, but demanded near perfection from all of them. He was also known to become physically and emotionally abusive.

Whitman's frustrations with his dysfunctional family were complicated by abuse of amphetamines and health issues including headaches that he reported in one of his final notes as "tremendous."[6] A glioblastoma, which is a highly aggressive brain tumor, was discovered during autopsy that experts on the "Connally Commission" concluded may have played a role in his actions. He was also affected by a court martial as a United States Marine, failings as a student at the University of Texas, ambitious personal expectations and psychotic features he expressed in his typewritten note left at 906 Jewell Street, Austin, Texas, dated both July 31, 1966 and later by hand "3 A.M., both dead August 1, 1966".

Several months prior to the shootings, he was summoned to Lake Worth, Florida to pick up his mother who was filing for divorce from his father. The stress caused by the break-up of the family became a dominant discussion between Whitman and a psychiatrist at the University of Texas Health Center on March 29, 1966.


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