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Yesterday in La Crosse

The worst mass shooting at the time in America, in 1966

Brad Williams



In August of 1966, gunman Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a tower at the University of Texas, and fired dozens of shots at the people below over a 2-hour period. By the time Austin, Texas police killed Whitman, he had killed 16 people and wounded 32 others. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. until the 1980’s.

Happier news in the U.S. later that week, when President Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Luci got married in Washington to Illinois native Patrick Nugent. Besides attending Marquette University in Milwaukee, Nugent graduated from Campion High School in Prairie du Chien.

La Crosse was preparing a picnic celebration, after being named an “All-America City.” Families were invited to the Myrick Park cookout, and were asked to bring their own blankets, plates, and silverware. The Happy Twirlers square-dancing club would be serving barbecue beef, corn on the cob, and watermelon.

A man walking into the women’s shower caused an uproar at a La Crosse State college dorm. A 26-year-old from Milwaukee was at Trowbridge Hall, asking to see a girl in the building. He was told that she was in the shower. The guy went to the shower room to say hello, which led the girl to scream and hide in the shower stall. Police caught him after he left the dorm, and he was fined $100…53 years ago, 1966, yesterday in La Crosse.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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