UT Tower shooting witnesses share their thoughts on coping with tragedy

Reports surfacing after Las Vegas shooting sparks memories in survivors of UT Tower attack.

The lives of the witnesses in the Las Vegas shooting have been changed forever, something witnesses to the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting know all too well.

Even after 51 years, they remember the smallest details.

"After any of these mass murders I immediately start having flashbacks of what happened," Forrest Preece said.

"When I saw the images coming out of Las Vegas the first thing I thought of was the shooting in 66," Artly Snuff said.

Preece and Snuff were two of the students on campus during the UT Tower shooting. Preece was just leaving the Rexall Drugstore on the Drag when he heard gunfire.

"About 15 seconds later a high-powered rifle bullet went past my right ear and it hit a gentleman who was standing at the little newsstand next door to the drug store a few feet to my right," Preece said. "He died two hours later."

Snuff was just leaving English class when he learned there was a sniper shooting on campus.

"Right next to the main mall was where we spent the next hour," Snuff said.

During that time, he saw a woman named Claire Wilson about 100 feet away. She was pregnant and had been shot in the stomach.

"You could see her move," Snuff said. "She'd move her legs and I was worried he'd shoot her again."

Snuff risked his life to take her to safety. Wilson lived, but her baby didn't.

"We thought that nothing like that would happen again," Snuff said.

However, history has proved them wrong. The latest example happening last week.

"What the people in Vegas went through will follow them for the rest of their lives and not just the people who were shot but their friends and their neighbors and their families," Snuff said.

They said the memories never leave.

"In the 51 years since then I've thought about it almost every day," Preece said.

"I feel extremely guilty for not having done more and not having done it sooner," Snuff said. "It's the guilt that comes from going through something like that."

After sharing their experiences, Preece and Snuff both agree when it comes to coping, communication is everything.

"I think by talking you help get the guilt out," Snuff said. "The feelings that are within you."

It took Snuff decades to realize this and now he's hoping by sharing this he'll help others dealing with tragedy.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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