72ºF

University of Texas marks 50th anniversary of clock tower shooting

AUSTIN, Texas – Hundreds of people marched from the south side of the tower at the University of Texas to the rededication of the Tower Garden.

Melissa Dixon, of Houston, also retraced her steps of 50 years ago when she was a UT student. She said she walked out of math class and went to the dormitory as the shooting from the UT tower began.

"By the time we got out there, there were car windows shot out ahead of us. So we had been in his range but we didn't know what the noise was. Had we stayed on our route to the co-op, we would have been on the drag where several people were shot," Dixon said.

She and hundreds more gathered as the tower bell rang in memory of each of the 17 people who died 50 years ago.

The massacre occurred before school shootings, SWAT scenes and terrorism were common on the nightly news.

"I remember watching the rifles firing back at Whitman and the limestone powder coming off of the tower,“ said survivor, Jean Crawford.

She said she and her family were on campus visiting the school bookstore to buy some UT gear when the sniper attack began.

“The tallest place they could find to shoot was from the top of the stadium. It didn't have the upper deck at that time," Crawford said.

Survivors and others dedicated a giant memorial in the shadows of the tower with the names of those who died. Many know their name could have been etched in the stone if things had been just a few steps in a different direction.

"It's been a little rough. I'm here and it makes a difference in the way you see life," Dixon said.