Bill Barnett

Student, Defense Research Laboratory

00:00 / 10:20
Listen to the interview

“I was on campus on August 1, 1966. I was between my junior and senior undergraduate years and working full time at the Defense Research Laboratory (DRL) next to the law school. My apartment was near 24th and Lamar. Daily, I would go back to my apartment for lunch, passing through the campus on 24th Street. On this day, I heard on my car radio that there was a shooter in the tower, so I diverted my route to 21st Street. I recall seeing a lot of people running from the South Mall, but do not remember hearing any gun shots.

After lunch I drove back to the DRL and occasionally looked out an office window to see if anything was visible from the tower. I should have exercised more caution, as I read in reports that there were shots fired at people on top of Memorial Stadium, which was on the same line of sight from the tower. I called my mother, who worked in the emergency room at a Corpus Christi hospital to let her know I was OK. Later I learned that the long distance operators were only letting emergency calls go through and that most weren’t able to call long distance until the next day. What struck me about the event was the courage demonstrated by the citizens of Austin and the staff and students of UT.

Many risked their lives to save others and the two who climbed the Tower stairs to confront Whitman demonstrated exceptional courage – not knowing what to expect, only that they had to stop the shooting.

I recall reading about the hunters who were called to the campus that day and were deputized to keep the shooter on the defensive, preventing further deaths.”