Wednesday, August 2, 2006


After posting that story about Charles Whitman's Texas massacre in 1966 forty years ago, and the TV movie that was made from the story, I decided to go back online and do a little more research. I just wanted to make sure that the character portrayed by Ned Beatty was indeed the deputized bookstore employee.

It was at where I found out that the cops who were involved in the killing of Whitman weren't happy with the way they were depicted in the TV movie:

"After the movie came out, Ramiro Martinez sued the film company for its portrayal of him and his wife. Houston McCoy, the officer who fired the shotgun rounds that actually killed Whitman, (but whose role is often discounted or even ignored in some stories about the event) also sued. Martinez won an undisclosed settlement and McCoy got nothing."

I'm used to seeing real-life people depicted in TV movies and mini-series, looking nothing like they do in the real world. My two best examples: Richard Crenna as H. Ross Perot in 'On The Wings Of Eagles', and Judith Light as Ryan White's Mom in "The Ryan White Story". And then there are the people on the periphery of a real-life story who are combined to create one single character in order to streamline the narrative.

But this may be the first time in which a person's involvement in a real-life event was totally eliminated from the Toobworld dramatization. No wonder Houston McCoy was angry enough to sue.

One last story from that tragic day. Again, this is from

"One of the most poignant events in the madness happened when Paul Bolton, then the dean of Austin broadcast news who was anchoring the KTBC-am (now KLBJ-AM ) coverage, heard a list of the dead being read on-air by Joe Roddy, one of his reporters. Roddy, who broke the story on KTBC-TV, was in a remote unit at the Brackenridge Hospital ER. Bolton interrupted and requested that Roddy reread a name on the list.

Bolton said, "that's my grandson."

Indeed, the named victim was Paul Sonntag, Bolton's grandson, who was shot along with his girlfriend Claudia Rutt on the Drag. Sonntag had instantly died. Rutt, who took a bullet while trying to reach for her fallen boyfriend and pull him to safety, died from a lung injury after admittance to the ER."

I don't know if that was part of the events dramatized in "The Deadly Tower", but I would have included it. Looking at the situation dispassionately from the perspective of Time, it's a heart-breaking human interest story.....


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