“Out of the Blue: 50 Years After the UT Tower Shooting” is Texas Standard’s oral history on the anniversary of the first public mass shooting of its kind.
For just the second time on record, the University of Texas at Austin stopped the tower clock today. It’ll remain that way – arms paused at 11:48 until that time tomorrow morning.
It was at 11:48 a.m., 50 years ago, that a sniper began firing from the tower onto the campus below. The pausing of the clock is part of a ceremony to honor the victims of that shooting.
The late morning of Aug. 1, 2016 was a lot like that day in 1966. It was hot. The sky was bright blue. The campus wasn’t crowded – but students in summer school were making their way around.
Students who have heard about the UT-Austin tower shooting have different levels of understanding about what happened:
“Before I got here, I didn’t know anything about the shooting,” Brenton Galley says.
“I don’t know much about the details I just know that there was one,” Jennifer Zvonek says. “I’m assuming that they were more strict on their safety regulations after that.”
Only one – Kailey Moore – knew that there had been a permanent memorial to the shooting.
“I don’t feel like I knew until maybe my sophomore year,” Moore says. “The original memorial used to be right over there under this tree kind of hidden.”
That memorial – a rock with a plaque on it – is now gone. It’s been replaced with a more than 6-foot-tall pink granite boulder that lists the names of the people killed by the shooter.