Killer of UT Tower sniper leaving law enforcement


This story originally was published on Dec. 2, 1991.

The law enforcement officer who climbed to the top of the University of Texas Tower and killed sniper Charles Whitman has reconciled himself to being remembered primarily for his actions on Aug. 1, 1966.

Ramiro "Ray" Martinez, 54, said he would prefer to be recalled as a man who did any job that had to be done, then moved on to the next job.

"That's just the way I was brought up. I will probably always be remembered as the man who stopped Charles Whitman, but that is history. It happened. I did my part, and I just leave it there, " Martinez told the San Antonio Express News.

After 18 years as a Texas Ranger, four years in the Texas Department of Public Safety narcotics section and 8 1/2 years with the Austin Police Department, Martinez is retiring as of Dec. 31.

Martinez was an Austin police officer when he made his way to the top of the UT Tower and led the assault that ended with the death of Whitman, a UT student who killed 16 people and wounded 31 as he fired from his perch above the campus.

Martinez, who was born and reared in the West Texas town of Rotan, in 1967 received the National Police Officers Association Medal of Valor, which cited him for bravery in stopping Whitman's killing rampage.

He joined the Texas Rangers in September 1973, although he had been suggested as a possible Ranger two years earlier.

"In 1971 I was invited to take the test because they wanted an Hispanic, and I declined. I felt I should be selected on my qualifications and not based on race. I didn't want it that way. I want to earn what I get, " Martinez said.

He took the test in 1972, was passed over and then selected after he retested in 1973. He was assigned to Laredo for the next five years as one of 14 Texas Rangers covering 39 South Texas counties. He transferred to New Braunfels, where he will retire.

"Because of my job, I couldn't get involved in the community in the past. New Braunfels has been very supportive, and now I want to try to repay the community for what they have done for me, " he said.
One of his first major assignments with the Rangers was to spend more than two years in Duval County with fellow Texas Ranger Rudy Rodriguez developing cases on elected public officials there.

Rodriguez said that, as Hispanics, "Ray and I put more pressure on ourselves to do a better job. We took a lot of abuse, not from other officers, but from some of the citizens. You had to have a hide like a buffalo."
Leaving the Texas Rangers is a bittersweet event, Martinez added.

"I will miss the camaraderie, but you have to prepare yourself for retirement and you have to cut the apron strings, " he said.

As to his legacy as a law enforcement officer for the past 30 years, Martinez said the UT Tower sniper case will probably be his most celebrated.

"I'll probably be remembered more for Whitman. When you talk about the other cases, I was just a small cog - just a player. With Whitman, I was a player there, too, but I was a main player."


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Featured