Bob Matjeka

Student, 21st Street

00:00 / 10:20
Listen to the interview

“I was there when the shooting started. I watched the events unfold on 21st Street, a block west of the Business Administration building (now McCombs).

This past year, at a football game, I took my son to the spot in the courtyard outside the Business Administration building to show him where I was when I first heard the shooting. The area has now been narrowed, because McCombs has been built out some into the area, but there was still space. I then took him to where I was when I moved to 21st Street, where I was blocked by some buildings from the tip top of the tower where Whitman was shooting.

Another student and I watched as the police used Speedway and 21st as a staging area. We stood outside on the street as the police were hiding behind buildings and bushes across the street from us.

As I recall, although it was a long time ago, some people were shot at the fountain on 21st, which was just a little west of where we were but more open.

I lived in the family student housing in Deep Eddy at the time, and one of my neighbors was killed, but I did not know him. I think he was from up north someplace, and was finishing up his PhD. He had a wife and a couple of children as I recall.

My wife was frantic as all this was on TV and the radio, and due to being pinned down, I was late for work at a part-time job with a local CPA firm. She had been checking and I was not there.

I also have another interesting story about when the other fellow and I decided to make a break for it. It has to do with the racial situation at the time in 1966, which was quite different than it is today. We were trying to help a black ROTC student who was on his way to class and didn’t know about what was going on as he was walking out in the open. We were yelling at him to take cover, but he was very distrustful of us until he suddenly realized, with a radio blaring in a nearly garage apartment, there was shooting from the tower, and us yelling that he was in danger – what exactly was happening.”