Tower Sniper: The Terror of American's First Active Shooter on Campus

On August 1, 1966, University of Texas engineering student Charles Whitman went to the top of the 307-foot campus tower. Over the next 96 minutes he shot and killed 15 people and wounded 31. Tower Sniper: The Terror of America’s First Campus Active Shooter, by Monte Akers, Nathan Akers, and Dr. Roger Friedman, explores the history and personal experience of this seminal tragedy, enriches public memory, and advances our understanding of mass shootings that continue to haunt America.

The authors vigilantly examine the details leading up to the event, the shootings, and their half-century legacy in stark detail. In doing so the authors correct various myths that have been part of the public narrative for decades, such as a brain tumor having motivated Whitman’s actions, that he intentionally targeted certain victims, and that he attempted to make it appear that multiple snipers were active. Witness interviews, examination of primary sources, and handwriting analysis reveal information overlooked until now, including the factors that actually contributed to Whitman’s predatory behavior and how his death and autopsy were mishandled.

UT TexasTower Sniper Charles Whitman

Employing the expertise of a clinical psychologist who was best friend to one of the shooter’s young victims, the book contrasts current understandings of trauma with the approach taken at the time, documents the long-term traumatic legacy of mass shootings, and describes how individuals and communities can successfully cope with traumatic memories. The release of this book coincides with the unveiling of the newly expanded memorial for the victims of this tragedy on the University of Texas campus, August 1, 2016, the 50th Anniversary of the shooting.

Primary Audience:

Adult Non-Fiction, True Crime, Historical Events, Texas Non-Fiction.


Alumni, students, faculty and staff of University of Texas System. Social science/human service academic programs nationwide focusing on research, policy development, and trauma response related to mass shootings, traumatized communities, shooting violence on campuses, and helping trauma victims and first responders, e.g., Schools of Social Work, Forensic Sciences Departments, Trauma Studies Programs, etc.

Author(s) Bio:

Monte Akers is an attorney practicing in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Flames After Midnight: Murder, Vengeance, and the Desolation of a Texas Community (University of Texas Press, 1999 & 2011); Tales for the Telling: Six Short Stories of the Ciril War on CO (Cold Creek Productions: 2005); The Accidental Historian: Tales of Trash and Treasure (Texas Tech University Press, October, 2010), Year of Glory: The Life and Campaigns of J.E.B. Stuart, June, 1862 to June 1863 (Casemate Publishing, 2012); and Year of Desperate Struggle: Jeb Stuart and His Cavalry from Gettysburg to Yellow Tavern, 1863-1864 (Casemate Publishing, 2014).

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Nathan Akers graduated from Texas State University with a degree in History in 2013. As a 20-year resident of Austin, Nathan developed a passion for state and local history. He has previously assisted in research for a number of historical books and articles but this is the first book in which he has co-authored. He currently works in the field of education and lives in Arlington, Texas with his wife Alexis and two beautiful daughters: Madison and Harper.

Roger Friedman, Ph.D. is a psychologist and social worker in clinical practice for 35 years in the Washington, D.C. area. He has published many professional articles about the lasting effects of trauma on victims and responders, and has served nationally as a clinical consultant to Mental Health and Social Service Programs. Dr. Friedman is on the Adjunct Faculty at the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work where he teaches about psychopathology and family therapy. He is working on a memoir of growing up in Texas during the 1950s and 1960s. On August 1, 1966, two months after Roger graduated from high school in Austin, his closest childhood friend, Paul Sonntag, was shot and killed by the Tower sniper.

Designed by Emmy Award Winning Director, Writer, Lora S. Gray, Creative Director Big Red Hat Productions


John M. Hardy Publishing was established in 1996 focused on Texas Biographies, Historical, Non-Fiction or Historical Fictions. Headquartered in Houston Texas, we have had the honor to publish the works of esteemed authors such as, Bud Shrake, Mike Nichols, Mike Farris, Robert Waller, David Heymann, and Lee Lanning, Laurence Parent, Dr. Michael Powell, and Dr. John Dempsey.

 edited by Sarah Le Pinchon.