• BY Keith Maitland | IN Crime
    Premiered February 14, 2017

About the Film

On what seemed like a typical summer day, August 1, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Using a unique blend of historical archival footage, interviews and rotoscope animation, TOWER reveals the action-packed, untold stories of the witnesses, heroes, and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others. MORE

TOWER explores this untold history through the first-person stories of seven specific characters: two students who were shot, the two police officers who ended the siege, two civilians who inserted themselves into the story to provide aid to victims and police, and the KTBC TV and radio reporter who broadcast live from the scene for more than an hour and a half, and whose broadcast was picked up nationally, bringing the events in Austin to listeners around the nation.

Seamlessly slipping from character to character, TOWER unfolds as a moment-by-moment re-telling of the events of the day, highlighting the fear, confusion, and visceral realities of the shooting rampage. After the gunfire subsides, the story shifts to examine the immediate aftermath for these individuals and for society. Finally, TOWER steps out of the shadow of history to reveal the subjects as they are in the present day, exploring the legacy of the shooting through the eyes of the survivors of a story they'll never forget, but in some cases had not talked about for decades.

The Filmmaker

Keith Maitland (Director/Producer/Editor) was drawn to the story of the Texas Tower shooting when he first heard about the shooting from an eyewitness — his seventh-grade history teacher. A graduate of the University of Texas, Keith began researching for TOWER after the 40th anniversary of the shooting in 2006 and began production on TOWER in 2012. Maitland is the director of the Emmy-nominated The Eyes of Me, a year-in-the-life of four blind teens. The film was broadcast on PBS's Independent Lens and was honored with a Barbara Jordan Media Award by the State of Texas. Director of documentary features, commercials, and TV series, his credits also include seven seasons with NBC's Law & Order as an Assistant Director. Maitland is a graduate of the Directors Guild of America Trainee Program and the PBS Producers Academy. LESS

Film Credits

Directed by
Keith Maitland

Produced by
Keith Maitland
Susan Thomson
Megan Gilbride

Featuring (In Order of Appearance)
Neal Spelce - Monty Muir
Claire Wilson - James Violett Beane
Tom Eckman - Cole Bee Wilson
Aleck Hernandez Jr. - Aldo Ordoñez
Houston McCoy - Blair Jackson
Brenda Bell - Vicky Illk
Allen Crum - Chris Doubek
John “Artly” Fox - Séamus Bolivar-Ochoa
Ramiro “Ray” Martinez - Louie Arnette
Rita Starpattern - Josephine McAdam
Lee “Junior” Zamora - Anthony Martinez
Comforting Woman  - Rebecca Beegle
Phil Miller - Ron Pippin
Man in Suit  - Steve Eckelman
Kent Kirkley - Timothy Lucas
Margaret C. Berry - Karen Davidson
Jerry Day - Jeremy Brown
James Love - Cole Bresnehen
Student With Rifle - Tyler Mager
Billy Speed - John Fitch
Billy Snowden - Patrick Floyd
John Pipkin - Kevin Lindsay
Baby Boy Wilson - Theo Earl Maitland

Edited by
Austin Reedy

Animation by
Minnow Mountain

Director of Animation   

Craig Staggs

Animation Producer

Steph Swope

Coordinating Producer
Hillary Pierce

Directors of Photography

Keith Maitland
Sarah Wilson

Original Music
Osei Essed

Additional Music for Score by
Lord Buffalo

Sound Design
Lyman Hardy

Visual Effects
Gary Walker

Executive Producers
Steve Eckelman
Luke Wilson
Sally Jo Fifer
Lois Vossen
Louis Black
Pamela Colloff
Based in-part on her Texas Monthly article “96 minutes”

Supervising Producer
Amy Shatsky

Associate Producers
Tim Taliaferro
Melina McKinnon
Michael Cain
Mary Beth Minnis
Matt Nordgren

Consulting Producers
Paul Stekler
Courtney Spence

Creative Consultant
Jason Archer

Adam Butler
Anne Stodghill
Catherine Robb
Dr. Margaret C. Berry
Steve Stodghill
Tim McClure

Vicky Boone

Art Director
Keith Maitland

Wardrobe & Props
Caroline Karlen
Hillary Pierce

Art Dept. Assistant
Monty Muir

Additional Camera
Chance St. George
Ben Powell
Andrew Miller

Erica Robert Pallo
Todd Savage

Music Supervisor
Mirna Maddox

Visual Effects Editor
Austin Reedy

Assistant Editor
Chance St. George

Stills Photography
Sarah Wilson

Development Coordinators
Kara Moody
Sarah Kuck


Lead Animator   
Aaron Sacco

Dean Hsieh
Fernando Guardiola
John Paul
Katie Parker
Paul Beck
Zach Hall
Logan Ganshirt

3D Animation Supervisor
Rafael Ruiz

3D Animator
Matthew Young

Assistant Animators
Marcel Bialik
Chimi Paek
Chrystal Webb

Assistant Colorist
Nathan Bayless

Production Assistants
Letty Evans
Rachel Dendy

Animation Intern    
Lauren Willoughby

Legal Counsel
Steven Beer
Marc Simon
Michael Cihock

Post Producer  
Allison Turrell

DI Editor and Colorist   
Parke Gregg

Supervising Sound Designer and Editor   
Lyman Hardy

Foley Artist and Editor
Susan Fitz-Simon

Foley Mixer
Glenn Eanes

Dialogue Editor     
Miles Foster-Greenwood

Re-recording Mixer  
Lyman Hardy

Main and End Title Design
Gary Walker

Original Music
Performed by
Osei Essed

Heather Cole

Will Orzo

Saul Simon MacWilliams

Pedal Steel and Percussion
Philip Sterk

"Clair de Lune" from “Suite bergamasque”
Performed by Lindsey Reimnitz

Archival Footage and Stills Courtesy of
The Associated Press
Laurel Butler
Becky Speed Davis
The Estate of Shel Hershorn
John Fox
Kent Kirkley
The Library of Congress
Monika McCoy
Connie Eckman Molter
The Prelinger Archives
Neal Spelce
The Texas Archive of the Moving Image
The Texas Exes
Wazee Digital
Claire Wilson

Aerial Video Courtesy of
Charlie Kaye

Fiscal Sponsor
The Dallas Foundation

TOWER Documentary LLC Investors
Edythe and Booka Michel
Randy and Lisa Henken Ramirez
Mandy and Trent McBride
Annie Holand and Cramer Miller
Susan and Mike Mahoney
Dan and Cynthia Nelson

Funding Provided by
Charlotte Herzele
Tribeca Film Institute Documentary Fund
Austin Film Society
Burke Edwards
Cord Shiflet
Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Fitts
And others. A complete list is available from PBS.

TOWER is a co-production of Tower Documentary LLC, Go Valley Productions and the Independent Television Series (ITVS), in association with Meredith Vieira Productions and Killer Impact with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

The film was produced by Tower Documentary LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.


Had you ever heard of the tragic University of Texas shooting before? If so, what are your memories hearing about it? What was uniquely 1966 about this shocking event and what still resonates today? What strikes you about the unique way the story was told in the film?


  • News & Documentary Emmy Award
    Outstanding Historical Documentary
  • Critics Choice Awards
    Most Innovative Documentary
  • SXSW Film Festival
    Audience Award
  • SXSW Film Festival
    SXSW Grand Jury Award
Please review our comment guidelines.
Had you ever heard of the tragic University of Texas shooting before? If so, what are your memories hearing about it? What was uniquely 1966 about this shocking event and what still resonates today? What strikes you about the unique way the story was told in the film?