Thomas Brunet

Student, "The Drag"

00:00 / 10:20
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“I was there that day and though things have grown a little fuzzy after 50 years some things I have certainly not forgotten.

I had a very early class in summer school and so I was taking a nap when the phone rang not long after noon. It was the very frantic girlfriend of my roommate and she wanted to know if he was there. She didn’t explain why she was so frantic but asked if I would go look for him. I was not happy someone had woken me from my nap.

I was staying in the pool house behind the fraternity house so I went outside on the way to the main house to look for him. When I got outside I noticed all these people in the parking lot hiding behind the cars. I walked out there and asked what the hell were they doing when someone shouted, ‘Get down before you get shot!’

That’s when I noticed the sound of gunfire. Not one or two rounds but a steady sound coming from all directions.

I was quickly told somebody was up in the Tower and shooting at everything. I went back to the phone to tell the girl I couldn’t find her boyfriend but I would have him call when he showed up.

I went back outside with the others, crouched behind the cars and tried to get a look through someone’s binoculars. I was a couple of blocks west of the drag and I could see pieces of the building being chipped away from all the gunfire. I went into the main house and the TV was on and it was a still picture where a camera was fixed on the tower. I remember it didn’t move, just that single view of the tower. It seemed as if the cameraman had abandoned the camera and the picture didn’t change.

It seemed forever on that hot August day before we heard that the shooter had been stopped. Everyone then started running toward the Tower. People were coming from all directions – many with rifles still in their hands.

I recall crossing the drag and was surprised by all the cars that had simply been abandoned with the doors left wide open.

A large crowd was standing at the foot of the Tower and I remember it being rather quiet. We waited and then they started bringing the bodies out on stretchers covered with a sheet and stained with lots of blood. I felt sick to my stomach. I had never seen anything so awful and there seemed to be a lot of bodies. After they stopped bringing the bodies out, people slowly drifted away. It was horrible to see but it seemed you just couldn’t take your eyes away from it all.

I went back to the place where I was staying and was finally able to get a phone call through to my parents (who were frantic) to let them know I was OK.

My roommate returned with this incredible story that he was near the mall when the shooting started and was forced to take cover and had remained there for the entire ordeal. It seems, as I recall, him saying a policeman was near him and trying to fire towards the tower and was shot and he had pulled him back. I do remember filling my roommate with large amounts of bourbon over the next hour or so as he was shaking and still scared to death.

That night there was a large crowd at Scholz’s Garten and people were getting really drunk – some even climbing into the trees on the back patio. I had never seen it like that. I remembered that someone commented that if a magazine photographer would have captured that moment they would have thought pretty poorly of the UT students’ reaction that night to the shooting. Fortunately, I never saw any pictures of Scholz’s from that night.”