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Victim tries to buy gun sniper used


This story originally was published on July 27, 1989.

An Austin man who was shot by Charles Whitman 23 years ago and another man who talked to the sniper on the morning of the massacre are trying to buy two guns from the "Whitman Collection" being offered for sale by a Dallas-area gun dealer.

Morris Hohmann was an ambulance attendant for Hyltin-Manor Funeral Chapel when he was struck by a 6mm rifle slug fired by Whitman from his perch atop the University of Texas Tower. Hohmann, who now owns the funeral home, wants to buy the gun that put him in Brackenridge Hospital for 21 days.

"I'll always carry some of the lead particles (left in his body from the slug), and I've got some of the cartridges. ... Why not have the rifle that did it?" Hohmann said Wednesday.

The seven guns that Whitman took to the Tower in a footlocker were offered for sale last month. Whitman murdered his mother and wife on the morning of Aug. 1, 1966, and then used the rifles to kill 14 people and wound 31 others from the Tower.

That morning, after killing his mother and wife, Whitman went to his garage to saw off the barrel and stock of a 12-gauge shotgun so it would fit into the footlocker.

As he performed that work, a postal carrier and former state trooper named Chester Arrington stopped to chat after leaving the Whitman family mail at the house.

Arrington, now a gun dealer and still an Austin resident, said Wednesday he is trying to buy the shotgun.

"He had the gun in a vise, and I talked to him while he sawed off the barrel and the stock," Arrington said.
The body of Whitman's wife, a bayonet in her heart, still lay inside the house.

"It was approximately an hour and 45 minutes before the killings. He was real calm. Very, very, very, calm."
For about 25 minutes, the two discussed guns and engaged in other small talk, Arrington said.

"I was just questioning him, why he was sawing the gun off. He said 'It's my gun, I can do what I want with it.' "

Arrington said he had talked to the seller of the gun several times, and had made an offer for the shotgun and the rifle, on Hohmann's behalf. But he said he has not seen any proof that the guns are the weapons used by Whitman, and said the deal will not go through unless the serial numbers on the weapons match.

Both men said they were not interested in buying all the weapons, which had a price tag of $7,500.

"I'm not intending to buy the total arsenal," Hohmann said. "I'm interested in the 6mm rifle."

Hohmann already had taken the first shooting victim to Brackenridge Hospital when he returned to Guadalupe Street to pick up more victims. Several victims had been pulled into the Sheftall Co. jewelry store on the Drag, but Hohmann was told he could not take them out the store's front door for safety reasons.

He was walking around the corner, down 23rd Street to the store's back door, when he was shot in the upper right leg.

"We were walking, and my vehicle provided cover, until it turned the corner." Hohmann said.

In 1975, after 23 years with Hyltin-Manor, Hohmann bought the business. He is regularly called by reporters wanting to know about the Whitman killings, and near the time of the 20th anniversary of the massacre he granted 37 interviews.

"I hope that I've accomplished a great deal in my life, but this seems to be what I'm best known for," he said.


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