50 Years Ago: The Start of America’s Mass School Shooting Epidemic

And the Story of the “Clock Tower Sniper”

It is a fact that 90% of America’s school shooters were on prescription brain-altering psychiatric drugs – drugs that are well known to cause inebriation, intoxication, loss of impulse control, rage, aggression, homicidal ideation, suicidal ideation, and temporary drug-induced mania and/or psychosis.

But the well-documented psychiatric drug connections to school shootings and a host of other widely-publicized episodes of “senseless violence” has been treated as a taboo subject by Big Media, Big Pharma and the medical profession. (For much more on the connections between psych drugs and “irrational” behaviors of many types.)

The first cover-up started rather innocently after August 1, 1966, when a likely drug-intoxicated (and/or drug-withdrawing) ex-Marine sharp-shooter named Charles Whitman earned his infamous title as the “Clock Tower Sniper” at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin.

Whitman was likely drug-intoxicated because of his prescribed amphetamine (Dexedrine) and barbiturate drugs, for he had been a patient of a campus physician during his second try at being a college student. (He had flunked out after his first matriculation and re-joined the Marines for a second “tour of duty”. However, he was court-martialed by the Marine Corps and re- enrolled in college.)

From Whitman’s homicide/suicide note, one only has hints of the psychological and spiritual traumas that he suffered during his child-rearing years. His biological parents had divorced, and dysfunctional families always cover up family violence so there is not much family history to research.

But Whitman wasn’t an outcast in his childhood. He had been an Eagle Scout before he went into the Marines, and seemed to have been generally well-liked, at times being described as an “all-American boy.” After the shooting spree, Whitman’s father-in-law said that he was “just as normal as anybody I ever knew, and he worked awfully hard at his grades. There was nothing wrong with him that I knew of.”

Whitman took his prescribed Dexedrine and barbiturates, and, not surprisingly when one knows amphetamines and what withdrawal symptoms can come from the highly addictive barbiturates, he had chronic headaches. (Although a benign brain tumor was found at autopsy.) He hated his stern father, a self-made man whom Whitman was never able to please.

After stabbing his mother to death hours before the shootings, Whitman wrote the following explanatory note: “The intense hatred I feel for my father is beyond description. My mother gave that man the 25 best years of her life,” He explained that he had killed his mother to ease her suffering. “[My father] has chosen to treat her like a slut that you would bed down with, accept her favors and then throw a pittance in return.” Any child who experiences seriously dysfunctional parents, especially if there is a lot of punishment involved, feels intense humiliation and shame, which, in the case of American boys, often motivates aggressive violence. In the case of American girls, it motivates self-blame and depression.

In the case of Whitman, one would also like to know if he had suffered humiliations, hazing or other forms of psychological or physical violence during his Marine Corps basic training or during his 18 month tour at Guantanamo Bay, which can be a miserable tour. The records that might have identified the reasons for his court-martial from the Marines have probably been “lost”. Whitman was never deployed to Vietnam.

One also would like to know what the symptoms were that made him seek psychiatric “treatment”. What information was he given about the dangers of the two prescribed brain-altering drugs together before he took them? Why was he given a combination of two powerful psych drugs that had never been tested for safety even in the rat labs? What were the doses of the drugs? What was the frequency with which he took them, and what adverse effects did he experience?

But the 50 year-old trail is cold, and the journalists who write for the corporate-controlled media, whose editors and publishers are beholden to advertising dollars from Big Pharma and Big Medicine, are not inclined to truly investigate and report on such issues as prescription drug-induced violence, drug-induced suicides, drug-induced dementia, vaccine-induced autoimmune diseases, vaccine-induced developmental disorders, etc, etc. Iatrogenic disorders that expose Big Medicine and Big Pharma are taboo subjects.

Harry Chapin and “Sniper”

But in 1972, singer-songwriter Harry Chapin wrote a brilliantly insightful song about Whitman, which he titled “Sniper”. The song contains verses about parental abuse and neglect, social isolation, rejection and subsequent homicidal rage that have, since 1966, became common denominators in America’s unique epidemic of young white male school shooters. What Chapin couldn’t have known about was the brain-altering, violence-inducing and suicidal effects of Whitman’s highly addicting psych drugs — amphetamines and barbiturates — that he had been prescribed by his unaware and probably well-meaning campus psychiatrist.

After his second tour of duty with the Marines ended in disgrace, Whitman tried again to make it as a student by re-enrolling at UT Austin. During the summer months before the shooting rampage, he became a patient of a psychiatrist and was on, or was withdrawing from, the two drugs. While under the influence of the drugs (or while experiencing crazy-making withdrawal symptoms after stopping or cutting down on them) he killed 14 and wounded 31 during a five-hour shooting spree from the top of the Austin campus clock tower. Whitman had already stabbed to death his mother and his wife – probably experiencing the now well-understood reality of psychiatric drug-induced remorselessness and rage.

As referred to above, Whitman had been a victim of parental conflict that led to his parent’s divorce. He had likely suffered physical abuse, not just emotional abuse, from his strict father, and he had suffered the humiliation of his court martial and failure at college. Extracting some revenge, even at the expense of innocent scapegoats like his mother and wife, may have seemed logical to his drug-altered brain.

And then, at the last moment of his tragic life, like the ex-military veteran and PTSD-afflicted “madman” and drug-intoxicated Adolf Hitler two decades earlier, he avoided having to face the humiliation of a trial by jury or the hangman by committing “suicide by cop”. Whitman didn’t actually kill himself, but rather orchestrated the inevitable suicide when his position on the observation deck of the tower was stormed by city police officers.

Going out in a “Blaze of Glory”

Whitman may have gained some psychological satisfaction by not killing his despised father. Leaving him alive would make him pay for his sins for the rest of his life. He may have gained some satisfaction via his “control” over the scapegoated victims on the mall below him. He knew that he would finally be getting recognition – albeit negative – via the intense media attention and that he would get to go out in a “blaze of glory” rather than living in humiliating obscurity. At least he would be famous for something rather than being a “nothing” who failed both in his military and academic careers. Whitman had become an unloved, invisible, inconsequential failure that, except for the temporary power over others that his guns gave him, would otherwise never have been remembered for anything.

Angry, sociopathic men, who threaten to shoot or actually shoot their estranged ex-lovers or wives are often motivated by similar feelings of humiliation when they act out violently. And it is more likely to happen when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether the drugs are prescribed or illicit. Guns and drugs don’t mix.

The Similarities Between the Austin, Columbine and Aurora Shooters

Unlike the Littleton, Colorado shooter Eric Harris (who realized that he could ratchet up his hostility, hatred and rage by altering the dose of his Prozac-like drug Luvox), Whitman had no way of knowing that his “senseless” behavior was intimately connected to his psychiatric drugs, just like the Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes, who also didn’t realize that he was under the brain-altering influence of neurotoxic and psychotoxic synthetic prescription drugs Zoloft (Pfizer) and Klonopin (Roche) when he was making his irrational online purchases of assault gear, assault weapons and ammunition.

It is common knowledge that virtually all American psychiatrists reflexively “treat” with psychotropic drugs over 95 – 98% of their out-patients (and 100% of their in-patients) in various combinations of neurotoxic and psychotoxic, brain-altering synthetic chemicals like Holmes’s Zoloft {Pfizer}, which has an amphetamine base molecular structure and is known to adversely affect impulse control and to cause homicidal impulses, suicidal impulses, agitation, aggression, mania, psychosis, etc). Neither of the shooters, Whitman or Holmes, were aware that the barbiturates or the benzodiazepine (Klonopin) act on brain synapses like long-acting alcohol, which are crazy-making whether one is taking those drug or withdrawing from them.

Harry Chapin immortalized Whitman and his tragic (possibly even preventable) story in the powerful, haunting, and psychologically accurate song “Sniper.” Here are the lyrics:
Sniper

It is an early Monday morning.
The sun is becoming bright on the land.
No one is watching as he comes a-walking.
Two bulky suitcases hang from his hands.

He heads towards the tower that stands in the campus.
He goes through the door, he starts up the stairs.
The sound of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing,
The sound of the silence when no one was there.

I didn’t really know him.
He was kind of strange.
Always sort of sat there,
He never seemed to change.

He reached the catwalk. He put down his burden.
The four sided clock began to chime.
Seven AM, the day is beginning.
So much to do and so little time.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow it cannot be found.

He was such a moody child, very hard to touch.
Even as a baby he never smiled too much. No, no. No, no.

You bug me, she said.
You’re ugly, she said.
Please hug me, I said.
But she just sat there
With the same flat stare
That she saves for me alone
When I’m home.
When I’m home.
Take me home.

He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun.
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall.
He knew he would need them for his conversation.
If it went as he planned, then he might use them all.

He said Listen you people I’ve got a question
You won’t pay attention but I’ll ask anyhow.
I found a way that will get me an answer.
Been waiting to ask you ’til now.
Right now!

Am I?
I am a lover who’s never been kissed.
Am I?
I am a fighter who’s not made a fist.
Am I?
If I’m alive then there’s so much I’ve missed.
How do I know I exist?
Are you listening to me?
Are you listening to me?
Am I?

The first words he spoke took the town by surprise.
One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye.
It blew her through the window wedged her against the door.
Reality poured from her face, staining the floor.

He was kind of creepy.
Sort of a dunce.
I met him at the corner bar.
I only dated the poor boy once.
That’s all. Just once, that was all.

Bill Whedon was questioned as he stepped from his car.
Tom Scott ran across the street but he never got that far.
The police were there in minutes, they set up barricades.
He spoke right on over them in a half-mile circle.
In a dumb struck city his pointed questions were sprayed.

He knocked over Danny Tyson as he ran towards the noise.
Just about then the answers started coming. Sweet, sweet joy.
Thudding in the clock face, whining off the walls.
Reaching up to where he sat, their answering calls.

Thirty-seven people got his message so far.
Yes, he was reaching them right where they are.

They set up an assault team. They asked for volunteers.
They had to go and get him; that much was clear.
And the word spread about him on the radios and TV’s.
In appropriately sober tone they asked “Who can it be?”

He was a very dull boy, very taciturn.
Not much of a joiner, he did not want to learn.
No, no. No, no.

They’re coming to get me, they don’t want to let me
Stay in the bright light too long.
It’s getting on noon now, it’s going to be soon now.
But oh, what a wonderful sound!

Mama, won’t you nurse me?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness.
Mama, it’s getting worse for me.
Won’t you please make me warm and mindless?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness.
I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.
Soon they’ll be here, but there’s nothing to fear.
Not any more though they’ve blasted the door.

As the copter dropped the gas he shouted “Who cares?”.
They could hear him laughing as they started up the stairs.
As they stormed out on the catwalk, blinking at the sun,
With their final fusillade his answer had come.

Am I?
There is no way that you can hide me.
Am I?
Though you have put your fire inside me.
Am I?
You’ve given me my answer can’t you see?
I was!
I am!
and now I will be,
I will be,
I will be,
I will be,
I will be,
I WILL BE!

Dr Gary G. Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN. Dr Kohls has been actively involved in peace, justice and nonviolence issues for much of his adult life and, since he retirement, has written a weekly column for the Duluth Reader. His Duty to Warn columns mostly deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism and other movements that threaten American democracy. He can be reached at:gkohls@cpinternet.com. Read other articles by Gary.

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