Around 11:52 a.m. on August 1, 1966, I was a 20-year-old University of Texas at Austin student, standing outside the Rexall drugstore in the 2300 block of Guadalupe with two Longhorn Band friends. We had eaten lunch inside, and as we were checking out, the cashier had told us, “You guys better not go out, somebody is shooting a gun!” Of course, we did anyway. People were still walking past, like everything was normal, but there was a crowd a block down the street pointing across at the West Mall.
After a few seconds, we heard some pops off in the distance, as if from the Main Mall in front of the UT Tower. We surmised that some fool was throwing firecrackers and decided to leave. We said our goodbyes, then I became immobilized. The same thing happened to my friends. About 10 seconds later, a high-powered bullet fired by the Tower Sniper whistled past my right ear and killed a man about four feet away from me. We ran back inside. Fifty-six years later, I still carry the burden of knowing another human’s presence just inside a newsstand entrance is the reason I lived past that day.