Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Sidebar: The Classmate: Jim Grigsby

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997:  Jim Grigsby, Director of Facilities Management for the Texas Department of Transportation based in Austin, went to school with Charles Whitman.

"I met Charlie through a mutual friend, Don McCrary, at Summer school at UT in 1966. We had two classes together. Don knew Charlie from previous semesters.

"We often studied together, the three of us. Charlie had a job in addition to a heavy class load -- I think it was 15 to 18 hours. We all knew Charlie had always made straight A's -- real bright, real hard worker. Then we had a quiz in one of the classes; I think it was Simple Structures. Anyway, Charlie got his first `F' on that quiz, the first in his life, his first ever. He was real upset. It couldn't have been more than two weeks before he went up on the tower.

"We studied together, helping Charlie because we knew he was under a lot of pressure. The weekend before he went up on the tower we all got together at Don's -- Student Housing out at Deep Eddy, I think -- to study. The wives all went off in one part of the house, and the three of us in another, drank some beers, and studied.

"We had a class together that Monday for a test. Don and I saved Charlie a seat between us. He never showed up.

"We got ready to the exit Taylor Hall after the test and weren't allowed becasue somebody was on the tower shooting people.

"When it was all over they let us out and we walked around, saw blood, the places where people had been shot. Then we came upon a large group of people with a radio and they announced Charlie's name as the sniper. I just couldn't believe it.

"I never saw any signs or warnings. Nothing like that. Again, I wasn't around him much, just studying and things. He was a couple of years ahead of me. I had no idea. He just seemed normal.

"I think he just snapped."

-- T.A.

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