25-year-old Charles Whitman woke up on a hot August day in 1966 and shot both his mother and his wife to death. Hours later he would climb to the top of the University of Texas Tower and introduce America to mass shootings in public places.
Seeing what Stephen Paddock did to dozens of strangers in Las Vegas hit West University resident Bob Higley right in the gut.
“I saw it on the TV and it was as if someone had jumped inside of me, so yes, it comes back,” Higley said.
Higley was on the University of Texas campus when ex-marine and architectural student Charles Whitman went on an hour and a half killing spree. He randomly shot 43 people killing 13. So how did Higley survive?
“I’ve asked myself that question before. Number one, I was with another guy named Cliff Drummond,” Higley said. “And he went about five seconds before I did. I knew very well what I was getting into.”
The two young men were running and dodging bullets.
“At the last minute he went left and I thankfully went right,” Higley said. “Otherwise the shooter would have found me in the same gap and I think he would have popped me.’
Higley credits two things for his survival -- luck and moving.
“I was very focused. Your mind comes together when you’re being shot at,” Higley said. “It’s a sobering experience that just makes you think about one thing, and that’s surviving.”
Higley says life is never the same after experiencing a mass shooting. He has this advice for survivors of Paddock’s deadly deed.
“You went through a trauma, you were beaten, you have been changed, go talk to somebody,” Higley said.
“They’re damaged goods right now and they need to get fixed,” Higley. “That’s what I would tell them and that’s one of the reasons maybe the primary reason I’m talking to you. Go get fixed."
While Stephen Paddock took his own life, Charles Whitman was gunned down by an Austin police officer. They both took what motivated them to do such a horrendous act to their graves.