Difference between revisions of "Houston McCoy 2"

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Houston Roy McCoy is an Austin, Texas police officer who killed sniper Charles Whitman at the University of Texas at Austin on August 1, 1966.[1][2]

A native of Menard, Texas, he attended Menard High School where he was active in sports and named "Class Favorite" and "Best All Around Boy".[3][4] He graduated in 1958 and joined the Austin Police Department in May 1963. While on the force, he obtained his commercial flight instructor license and volunteered his time to the Boy Scouts of America.[2]

He married his German-born fiancé, Ruth, in July 1963, the same month he graduated from cadet school.[2]

Confrontation with Charles Whitman

Approximate vantage of McCoy's view of Whitman who was sitting in far corner

Police officers McCoy and Jerry Day as well as citizen Allen Crum followed Officer Ramiro Martinez outside onto the observation deck of the tower building. Martinez, closely followed by McCoy, proceeded north on the east deck while Day, followed by Crum, proceeded west on the south deck. Crum accidentally discharged a shot from his borrowed rifle as Martinez moved onto the north deck and in a split position rapidly fired all six shots from his .38 police revolver. As Martinez was firing, McCoy jumped onto the north deck just to the right of Martinez, and with his 12 gauge shotgun, fired the two fatal shots into the head and left side of Whitman, who was sitting approximately fifty feet away near the northwest corner, partially shielded by the tower lights. Martinez threw his revolver onto the deck, grabbed McCoy’s shotgun, ran to the body of Whitman who had slid onto his back and fired a point blank shot into Whitman's upper left arm. Martinez then threw the shotgun on the deck and left the scene shouting "I got him". McCoy remained on the observation deck where he was joined by other officers who were in the tower, until the completion of the on scene investigation.[5]

After the event

South Door barricaded by Whitman and used by police officers

On August 5, 1966, McCoy appeared before the Travis County Grand Jury and received a justifiable homicide verdict for the death of Whitman.

Two years after the event, McCoy left the police force and was employed as a civilian flight instructor under the T-41 program with the United States Air Force in Del Rio, Texas. In January 1975, he became the Camp Ranger for the Boy Scouts at Camp Sol Mayer near Fort McKavett State Historic Site, serving as Camp Ranger until 1987.[2]

McCoy was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by a Veterans Affairs psychologist in 1998.[6] In April 2000, the State of Texas granted a Worker's Compensation Award and in May 2000 the City of Austin sued McCoy to deny the award.[6]

The book Suicide by cop: committing suicide by provoking police to shoot you stated that McCoy believed that Whitman could have shot him and fellow officer Ray Martinez, but "he was waiting for them, and wanted to be shot."[7]

In 2004 McCoy and Ray Martinez sued MGM studios for how they were portrayed in a made for television movie about the event.[8]

McCoy was interviewed following the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.[9]


  • On August 9, 2007 Houston McCoy, along with 13 other recipients, received the Distinguished Service Award from the City of Austin for their role in the tragedy of August 1, 1966.[5]
  • On August 1, 2008, Travis County renamed their law enforcement Precinct 3 building B "Tower Heroes Building" honoring Houston McCoy and other law enforcement officers and citizens involved in ending the UT Tower tragedy.[10][11]
  • On May 7, 2009, Houston McCoy and other first responders involved in the UT Tower incident were awarded Honorary Membership of the Austin Police Association.[12]


  1. "UT Tower Heroes to be Honored". SA Standard Times. 2007-08-06. http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2007/aug/06/ut-tower-shooting-heroes-be-honored. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Camp Sol Mayer". West Texas Scouting History. 2004-07-10. http://www.westtexasscoutinghistory.net/camp_solmayer_McCoy.html. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  3. "Menard Roots - Class of 1958". Menard HS annual. http://www.76859.com/html/mhs_1958.cfm. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  4. "Menard Roots - Class of 1956". Menard HS annual. http://www.76859.com/html/mhs_1956.cfm. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "UT Tower Heroes to be Honored". SA Standard Times. 2007-08-06. http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2007/aug/06/ut-tower-shooting-heroes-be-honored/. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Cop who killed UT sniper files worker's comp lawsuit". Amarillo Globe News. 2000-06-28. http://www.amarillo.com/stories/062800/tex_LD0691.shtml. 
  7. Lindsay, Mark; David Lester (2004). Suicide by cop: committing suicide by provoking police to shoot you. Baywood Publishing Company. p. 45. ISBN 9780895032904. http://books.google.ca/books?id=zY0O7OIhd2M. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  8. Phillips, Kendall R. (2004). Framing public memory. University of Alabama Press. p. 81. ISBN 9780817313890. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ig4fxZA9ficC. Retrieved 2010-06-21. "Both policemen who shot Whitman sued MGM after the made-for-TV movie was released. Martinez received a settlement; the other policeman, Houston McCoy, whose name was not used in the film, received nothing, even though the film portrays him standing by passively as the actor playing Martinez fires the fatal shot. Whitman's autopsy showed that it was McCoy's bullet that killed the sniper." 
  9. Laughlin, Meg (April 17, 2007). "Officer remembers final shots of 1966 Texas massacre". Saint Petersburg Times. http://www.sptimes.com/2007/04/17/Worldandnation/Officer_remembers_fin.shtml. Retrieved 2010-06-21. "'I glanced at the TV, and there was a Fox News alert on Virginia Tech" he said. "Here we go again," I shouted out loud." 
  10. "Heroes of UT Tower Tragedy Honored". American-Statesman. 2008-08-02. http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/08/02/0802dedication.html. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  11. "Tower Heroes Memorialized: County Dedicates Building Ceremony Marks 42nd Anniversary of Tower Shooting". Daily Texan Online. 2008-08-04. http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2008/08/04/TopStories/Tower.Heroes.Memorialized.County.Dedicates.Building-3396685.shtml. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  12. "The Police Line". Austin Police Association Volume 1 2009. http://www.austinpolice.com/magazine.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-01.