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Fury at bids for uni massacre rifle

A woman whose relatives were killed in a 1966 sniper rampage at the University of Texas that left 16 people dead and dozens more wounded says she is horrified that the high-powered rifle used by the gunman is being sold in an online auction.

Bids are starting at 25,000 dollars (£15,300) for a rifle Charles Whitman used to shoot from the top of a clock tower on the campus in Austin.

Mary Jane Flowers, whose brother and aunt were killed in the massacre and her mother left a paraplegic, said she was "shocked" to learn of the sale.

"I can't imagine who would want that or who would do that," Ms Flowers, of West Memphis, Arkansas.

It was the deadliest US campus shooting by a single gunman until 2007, when a student at Virginia Tech shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 more.

Donald Weiss of Dallas said he was helping the owner of the Remington 700 sell the weapon, which has changed ownership several times over the decades. Bids are being accepted on the website of Texas Gun Trader.

The rifle was listed in a probate court inventory in Travis County, according to a copy of the 1967 document shared with the Associated Press news agency. The executor of Whitman's estate sold the weapon and six others recovered from Whitman's arsenal at the tower to a Wichita Falls gun dealer, according to Mr Weiss.

"The deal in Texas is, no matter what's happened or how many people were shot, this is private property," Mr Weiss said.

"We're not capitalising on the horrific part. This is strictly for collectors, for its historic value."

He declined to reveal the owner's identity.

Whitman, 25, was a Texas student and former US Marine when he opened fire just before noon on August 1 1966.

Police who made their way to the tower's observation deck shot dead Whitman after the sharpshooter spent more than an hour firing on people with terrifying accuracy - hitting victims as far as 500 yards away. More than 30 years later, a 17th death was attributed to Whitman in 2001 when a Fort Worth man died of injuries from the shooting.

Authorities later determined Whitman also killed his wife and mother in the hours before he went to the tower.

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