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.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Featured

In celebration of deer season, here’s that time in 2016 that 26 snakes ended up in a deer blind
In celebration of deer season, here’s that time in 2016 that 26 snakes ended up in a deer blind

Good morning! We are about ten days or so into deer hunting season for Travis County (you can check up on dates here), so it seems like a the perfect time to remind hunters near and far of that time last year 26 rattlesnakes showed up in a deer blind. Last March, a Panhandle-based hunter named Rusty Hopper found a whole mess of snakes when he... well...
Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas
Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas

     You know it, I know it, your neighbors know it: Austin is lousy with folks who just will not throw away their stuff. Austin’s garages, its sheds and its crawl spaces are filled with plenty of objects from the good old days, be those the 90s rock/tech boom, the 80s oil boom and bust, the cosmic cowboy 1970s, the ‘60s...
A handful of hep Hammer horror movies for Halloween
A handful of hep Hammer horror movies for Halloween

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the British film studio Hammer Films made some of the best horror pictures in the Western world. With over the top scripts, lush gothic colors and beautiful women, Hammer horror influenced everygenre from sci-fi (George Lucas would not have cast Peter Cushing as the Grand Moff Tarkin without the latter’s run in dozens...
On the Texas coast, a hurricane recovery haunted by the past
On the Texas coast, a hurricane recovery haunted by the past

Between the beaches of Port Aransas and the vacation rentals of Port O’Connor, the Texas coast is filled with small towns that suffered massive damage in Hurricane Harvey. For some, the hurricane will forever alter the course of their future: Already in Bayside (pop. 333, and falling), at least eight families, close to 10 percent of the population...
It’s the first day of fall in Austin! This means nothing!
It’s the first day of fall in Austin! This means nothing!

Today is Sept. 22 in the year of our Lord 2017. According to the calendar, it is the first day of autumn. Which means, according to popular imagination, golden-brown leaves falling from trees; crisp, cool air; everyone in sweaters or jackets; and the anticipation of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Except in Austin.  Austin does not have autumn. At...
More Stories