On Saturday, Oct. 19 the Travis County Precinct 4 Office Building was rededicated to Ray Martinez.
Built over a decade ago, it never had a dedication ceremony with its namesake present. With over a 100 people present, including Ray and his wife, that changed.
Ray has been a citizen of New Braunfels for decades but in 1966 he was a young Austin police officer assigned to traffic duty. He had just gotten out of the military and was a green cop. Aug. 1, 1966 changed that in an instant.
At 11:30 that hot summer day Charles Wittman, after killing his mother and wife, arrived at the UT Tower. He quickly made his way to the top, killing and wounding four additional people on the way up. Arriving on the observation deck, he laid out his arsenal of guns on all four sides. Wittman, a trained Marine sharpshooter, started methodically shooting a few minutes before noon. His first shot hit a pregnant student, instantly killing her unborn infant. The next shot killed her boyfriend. He kept shooting, changing sides making it hard to pinpoint the source of the shooting. He had the high ground and was essentially untouchable.
A little after noon, Martinez’s lunch break was interrupted by a call to go direct traffic. He quickly got to the intersection and saw it was already handled, so he made his way to the tower. There were no handheld radios, no SWAT team, he was on his own. He made it through the live fire zone and got to the tower base unharmed. He entered and made his way to the elevator where he met a civilian, Allen Crum, who was armed with a rifle. The two of them made it up to the top finding dead bodies on the way. At one point Allen askd, “Are we playing for keeps?” Martinez then realizing he was not a police officer, deputized him on the spot!
The quickly formed team of two made it to the door leading to the observation tower. They entered unnoticed on the opposite corner from Whitman. Guns drawn and ready to fire, Crumb went left, Martinez right. When Martinez turned the corner he saw Whitman. He emptied his service revolver into him just as another came with a shotgun and finished him off.
The shooting was over — 16 dead and 31 injured.
Martinez was the hero; a young Hispanic kid just out of the military who took charge and stopped the first live media coverage mass shooting of in our history.
The ceremony had testimonies from dignitaries, all touched in some way by Ray’s life.
Ray graciously acknowledged all who came and spoke of others who helped. He called out John Fox, a student who unselfishly carried off a wounded young girl. Ray spent most of his time talking of Allen Crum, the heroic bold civilian who stormed the observation deck with him. Ray lamented that Crum has been forgotten.
Ray did what he does so well, raising up those around him. That day Ray not only stopped the shooting and more deaths, he made a powerfull statement about the worth of all human beings.
At that time Hispanics were not held in high esteem in our society — in law enforcement there were few.
His actions were a loud and clear statement of the worth of all who serve our country. His actions provided a positive motivating force for many present.
Ray’s life of service just kept on going. He later became a Texas Ranger, Ranger Ray, cleaning corruption in South Texas counties and later was a JP judge here in New Braunfels. Now retired, he still fills his live with community service.
We live in a time where we need more heroes acknowledged and remembered. Our culture struggles with the simple reality of good and evil.
We need to focus more on the good. We need to remember men like Ray — simple men who did what needed to be done.
Men who think a life of duty, service to others and humility is a life well lived.
This building rededication is a good start to remember and elevate those who make a difference everyday living a life God intended us to live.
We need more.