In the Shadow of the Tower, a UT Student Remembers That Dark Day

Orazzio Loayza helped victims at the scene of the tower shooting in 1966 and came away with a wound of his own.

By Laura RiceJuly 26, 2016 9:52 am

“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. 

Orazzio Loayza, who was 22 in 1966, was studying sociology at the University of Texas. He witnessed the tower shooting.

“We saw people dropping on the mall,” he says. “We didn’t know why they were dropping…. We noticed that there was shooting and they were dropping.”

He hid with other students behind the balustrade on the south end of the tower’s open plaza. He kept hearing another student yelling “Catherine! Catherine! Stay behind the pole!”

Loayza saw a policeman shot in the back. “Somebody got a big piece of cloth or something,” he says. “We put him in there and rushed it down south toward the post office.”

After the shooting was over, an uneasy calm settled over the campus. “Everything was kind of quiet,” he says, “and it was kind of strange.”

Leaving the scene of the shooting, he felt something damp on his clothes and realized it was his own blood. He wasn’t shot – a piece of rock had ricocheted and gotten embedded in his backside. He got three stitches for his wound. “I was not labeled as wounded,” he says. “I was always embarrassed to say I was wounded because I was not wounded by him, but by an accident.”

When Loayza visits the campus and passes by the tower, the shooting crosses his mind.

“Sometimes you dream about it, sometimes out of the blue you’re thinking about it,” he says. “You realize you’re passing under the tower, in the shadow of the tower, and you say, Oh, yeah, I made it through here…. You just kind of get to accept it.”

Post by Hannah McBride.