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Michael Barnes

Hearing from a Gabour family member about the UT Tower shootings

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Photo: Time

We’ve heard from dozens of readers who wanted to share their stories about Aug. 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman‘s horrific spree from the University of Texas Tower initiated the modern era of mass public shootings.

They have been responding to the American-Statesman’s extensive reporting on the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

We had not, until now, heard much from the Gabour family, who were among the first shot inside the Tower on that terrible day. For 50 years, they have remained mostly silent.

Today, Jim Gabour, wrote a powerful piece for the Guardian about the deaths of family members Marguerite Gabour Lamport and Mark Gabour, as well as the critical wounding of Mary Francis and Mike Gabour.

He aslo makes connections to a sniper who later took shots at people from the Howard Johnson’s in New Orleans.

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New Orleans police officers fire into a concrete cubicle atop the Howard Johnson hotel, where Mark Essex was holed up. Photograph: GE Arnold/AP

Here’s how the story begins (follow the link above and read it all):

“I remember when word came in. I was home from school for the summer, doing full-time manual labor at my family’s small weekly newspaper in Central Louisiana. We were home for an afternoon meal when the heavy old black telephone receiver rang in the kitchen. Maybe I sensed something and instinctively knew it wasn’t one of my buds, because I did not rush to the phone as usual.

My father took the call.

He was standing at first. I watched the pale, disbelieving look grow on his face as he slowly sat on the kitchen stool, the phone poised a few inches from his ear, stopping to stare at it every few seconds like it was something horrible, something foul.

He held on to the windowsill like he was dizzy. I stood a few feet away and watched silently, not wanting to intrude. Something was happening here; something was being told to my father. Something bad.”