History

Fiesta Sniper: Remembering the 1979 Battle of Flowers Parade

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39 years ago, on April 26, 1979, a mass shooting took place at the Battle of Flowers Parade in San Antonio. Leading up to the incident, the man who would soon be called the Fiesta sniper was only known as Ira Attebury. To local bank tellers, he was known as “Garlic Boy,” owing to his pungent odor. To area mental health workers, however, he was a 64-year-old paranoid World War II veteran, addicted to PCP, who had the odd stay in a mental hospital. On April 25, Attebury walked into Bexar Savings at McCreless Mall requesting to add a relative’s name to the two accounts he owned, totaling $20,000. From there, he drove his motor home, loaded with guns and ammunition, to the corner of Broadway and East Grayson Street, parking in front of Burggraf Tire Co., and sitting there throughout the night, awaiting the parade crowds.

Witnesses of the mass shooting, such as Amelia Castillo, a mother of 13, recall the day as hot and cloudless. She was attending the parade with her daughter-in-law, two nieces, and three daughters, including her 8-year-old, Cecilia. She was among the thousands of people who had gathered for the parade, which would begin at 1 p.m. She chose a parade-watching spot in front of Attebury’s motorhome. Her location was the envy of another witness – 9-year-old Timmy Lapping, who begged his mom to move there due to his spot in the hot sun. However, she had told him no. Patrolman Tommy Cavazos was joking with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in a bus parked on East Grayson Street. He was their escort to the Alamo. Lieutenant Gary Nagy was in the middle of the intersection of East Grayson Street and Broadway, talking with officers and a woman who had organized the parade. It was Nagy’s job to escort the woman via patrol car to the Alamo.

Fiesta Sniper: Remembering the 1979 Battle of Flowers Parade
Photo: Facebook/San Antonio Police Department Historical Society

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