Interview with Tom Wicker

What was going on inside your head right at that moment?


Well of course I didn't know who was being killed or anything and we, we observers, to our, I suppose our shame in a way, we all believed, or I don't, I don't know of any exceptions, we all believed that the inmates would in fact kill the hostages as they had threatened to do. And they had posted them in such a way that it looked as if they were going to do it. So we had no more faith in the inmates than the state did, we thought they were going to kill them, and it was a, it was a terrible time because there we were cooped up in our room, the gas was coming in the windows, not for us but, you know, we knew it was being used. And even though at least I couldn't hear the gunfire we knew it was going on. And we had predicted the day before that it was going to be a massacre. People were weeping openly and not just from the gas. And it's, it's the title of my book, you know. Herman Badillo turned to me and said, I didn't make it up, he turned to me and said, "I don't know what the hurry was," he said, "there's always time to die." And I don't know what the hurry was either. You know, those guys weren't going anywhere, they were inside 30-foot walls, it was, it was, September, it was getting cold up there, the food was running out, the sanitary conditions were bad, the place smelled awful. I mean that sense of freedom that the guys had had to begin with for, for just, for being out of their cells, that was beginning to wear away in the reality of their situation. I don't know what the hurry was, they could have waited two days, three days, four days, those guys would have given up. They didn't have to go in and kill 'em all. But they did.