A continuation of our look at the eyewitness statements, with a focus on the witnesses in the motorcade
Finding the Right Time
As noted in the discussion of the eyewitness testimony of those in the follow-up car, an analysis of the Zapruder film can help us put the testimony of the eyewitnesses in context. In frame 193, agent George Hickey is looking to his left, but by frame 202, less than half a second later, he has turned to his right. By frame 202, agent John Ready has also turned to his right. By frame 223, agent Clint Hill is turning to his right. We can study bystanders as well. In frame 160, 10-year old Rosemary Willis can be seen running beside the limousine. In frame 193 we can see that she is still running. By frame 202, on the other hand, she has come to a complete stop. As she said she stopped after hearing the first shot, this helps us place the first shot around frame 190. It seems more than a coincidence that her actions correlate to a shot being fired circa frame 190, the moment for a first shot established by the photographs and statements of both Phil Willis and Hugh Betzner. Even so, LPM theorists use young Rosemary as proof the first shot was fired circa frame 160. In one of the many misleading statements in his hugely influential book, Case Closed, Gerald Posner writes “By frame 187, less than 1.5 seconds later (that is, after Posner’s proposed moment for the first shot) the (Zapruder film) enhancement clearly shows she (Rosemary Willis) had stopped, twisted completely away from the motorcade, and was staring at the School Book Depository." As you can see by looking at her legs in the slide above, Miss Willis was still running at frame 193, and didn't come to a stop until frame 202. Posner was bluffing (aka lying).
The long-term effects of this bluff have been palpable. That Willis stopped immediately after a shot fired circa frame 160 of the Zapruder film has become so widely accepted among single-assassin theorists that no one even blinked when someone as supposedly evidence-based as Larry Sturdivan inaccurately asserted (in his book, The JFK Myths, no less) that "At frame 165, Rosemary rapidly begins to slow her running steps and comes to a complete stop before frame 190."
But don’t take my word for it. Richard Trask, a fair-minded single-assassin theorist, conducted a book-length study of the Zapruder film entitled National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film, in which he concluded that Miss Willis turned and faced the direction of her parents, with the school book depository in the background, "around Z200". At the bottom of this page, moreover, was an image of Z193, with a caption declaring that Miss Willis was still running in this frame.
Heck, even the HSCA, which concluded the first shot came at 160, and was searching for evidence of this shot, believed Miss Willis continued running past Posner's stopping point of 187. The HSCA report dealing with this issue, posted online by researcher Barb Junkkarinen, reads, in part, “there was not a reaction on the part of anyone except Governor Connally to a sharp noise or other attention-seizing distraction. However, a young girl, recently identified as the daughter of Willis (who made one of the important still photographs of the Presidential limousine) can be seen running or trotting across the grass beyond the far curb of the street where the limousine was traveling. She appears to be running in the same direction as the motion of the limousine, from about frame 165 to beyond frame 190. At frame 190 she begins a sudden stop, and by frame 195 she has turned, sharply to her right. However, her position at the time she stops is about 10 to 12 feet behind and to the left of the limousine. So, the position of her head after completing the turn, at frame 195, indicates that she is looking back up the street in a direction well behind the limousine itself. This action can be interpreted as a response to some sharp noise or other noticeable distraction.”
Unfortunately, the HSCA failed to match the Zapruder film with the
eyewitness testimony. If they had, they
would have realized that the light-blue Vice-Presidential limousine was just
making the turn at frame 160, with its Secret Service back-up car in
close-pursuit, and that there was no way an audible shot was fired at this
point. As demonstrated below...
Hurchel Jacks was the driver of the light blue Lincoln transporting Vice-President Johnson. (11-28-63 statement to the Secret Service, 18H801) “We had just turned from Main onto Houston, drove one block, and turned left. My car had just straightened up from making the left turn. I was looking directly at the President’s car at that time. At that time I heard a shot ring out which appeared to come from the right rear of the Vice-President’s car. Mr. Rufus Youngblood, the Secret Service Agent riding in my car asked me what that was and at the same time he advised the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson to get down. He climbed to the rear of the seat with the Vice President and appeared to be shielding the Vice president with his own body. At that time I heard two more shots ring out.” (Interview with CBS broadcast 6-26-67) “The car in which I was driving which occupied the Vice-President had just completed its turn and I felt a blast of which appeared to be a rifle shot came from behind me. I turned and looked up to the school book depository… I heard three shots and I could feel the concussions from all three.” Analysis: as Jacks said the limousine had completed the turn before the first shot, and as Jacks only heard one early shot, his recollections are completely at odds with the LPM theory. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Rufus Youngblood sat in the front seat of the Vice-Presidential car. (11-27-63 AP article found in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald) "An agent for 13 years, Youngblood was riding with Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, two cars behind the presidential car, when he heard the shots that mortally wounded President John F. Kennedy and seriously wounded Texas Governor John B. Connally. He could not be positive that the reports were shots, but Youngblood, from his position next to the driver, turned and pulled Johnson to the floor and shouted 'get down,' and half-sat and half-sprawled on top of him. 'It could have been a firecracker, a bomb, or a shot,' Youngblood, 39, said in an interview. 'I recognized it as an abnormal sound and realized some action had to be taken. I saw quick, unnatural movements in the President's car.'" (11-28-63 New York Times article) “I heard three explosions but I think the quick unusual movements in the President’s car also made me react. I’m not sure I reacted on the first shot, between the first and second, or on the second. I had no idea where the shots came from.” (11-29-63 report, 18H766-772) “The motorcade then made a left turn, and the sidewalk crowds were beginning to diminish in size. I observed a grassy plot to my right in back of a small crowd...I heard an explosion…I noticed that the movements in the Presidential car were very abnormal, and, at practically the same time, the movements in the Presidential follow-up car were abnormal. I turned in my seat and with my left arm grasped and shoved the Vice-President, at his right shoulder, down and toward Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough. At the same time, I shouted “get down!” I believe I said this more than once and directed it to the other occupants of the rear seat. They all responded very rapidly. I quickly looked around again and could see nothing to shoot at, so I stepped over into the back seat and sat on top of the Vice-President. I sat in a crouched position and issued orders to the driver. During this time I heard two more explosion noises...I am not sure that I was on top of the Vice-President before the second shot—he says I was. All of the above related events—from the beginning of the sound of the first shot to the sound of the third shot, happened within a few seconds.” (3-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission 2H144-155) “Well, the crowd had begun to diminish; looking ahead and to the right the crowd became spotty. I mean it wasn't continuous at all like it had been. As we were beginning to go down this incline, all of a sudden there was an explosive noise. I quickly observed unnatural movement of crowds, like ducking or scattering, and quick movements in the Presidential follow-up car. So I turned around and hit the Vice President on the shoulder and hollered, get down, and then looked around again and saw more of this movement, and so I proceeded to go to the back seat and get on top of him. I then heard two more shots. But I would like to say this. I would not be positive that I was back on that back seat before the second shot. But the Vice President himself said I was. But--then in hearing these two more shots, I again had seen more movement, and I think someone else hit a siren--I heard the noise of a siren… Well, there wasn't too much difference in the noise of the first shot and the last two. I am not really sure that there was a difference. But in my mind, I think I identified the last two positively as shots, whereas the first one I thought was just an explosive noise, and I didn't know whether it was a firecracker or a shot. It seems, as I try to think over it, there was more of a crack sound to the last two shots. That may have been distance, I don't know…There seemed to be a longer span of time between the first and the second shot than there was between the second and third shot.” (11-17-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Emory Roberts recognized the first shot as a shot. So did Youngblood." (On his reaction to the first shot) "Youngblood was less positive than he seemed. In the back of his mind he was thinking that if he was wrong this was going to be very embarrassing. But his voice was firm. He snapped at Johnson, 'Get down!'" (On the speed at which Youngblood moved to protect Johnson) "According to Johnson, Rufus Youngblood hurled him to the floor before the fatal shot. Youngblood himself doubts that he moved that quickly."
(11-21-73 article in the Dallas Times Herald) "It was an explosive noise. It wasn't the backfire of a motorcycle...I spun around in the seat. With my arm I hit him (Johnson) on the shoulder and told him to get down. Then I proceeded to climb into the back seat. There were two more shots...Johnson says I jumped on him before the second shot. I never said it. I wouldn't say it now." (20 years in the Secret Service, published 1973) "We had straightened on Elm now and were beginning to move easily down the incline in the wake of the cars ahead. Suddenly there was an explosive noise--distinct, sharp, resounding. Nothing that could be mistaken for the incessant popping and backfiring of the motorcycles, but in the instant I heard it I could not be certain if it had been a firecracker, bullet, bomb or some other explosive. I looked around quickly but saw nothing to indicate its source. But the movements in the President's car were not normal. Kennedy seemed to be falling to his left and there was sudden movement among the agents in the car directly ahead of us. I turned instinctively in my seat and with my left hand I grasped Lyndon Johnson's right shoulder and with all the leverage I could exert from a sitting position I forced him downward. "Get down!" I shouted. "Get down!" The vice-president reacted immediately. Still not seeing the source of the explosion, I swung across the back seat and sat on top of him. There were two more explosions in rapid succession, only seconds after the first. From my crouched position I saw a grayish blur in the air above the right side of the President's car. George Hickey, standing in the follow-up car just ahead of us, was poised with the AR-15 rifle, swinging back toward the building we had just passed. People along the sides of the street were scattering in panic." (Article by Gary Goettling on Youngblood in the Spring, 1992 issue of Georgia Tech's magazine) "As the procession crawled into Dealey Plaza, Youngblood glanced up at the clock on the roof of the Texas School Book Depository. It flashed 12:30. Less than a minute to the freeway, and only five minutes to the Trade Mart, he thought. That instant, piercing through the shouts of the thinning crowd, and the stuttering and backfiring of police motorcycles, Youngblood heard the shattering crack! of a rifle. His reaction was immediate and instinctive. "Get down!" he yelled. "GET DOWN!" And in the time it takes to pull the bolt of a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, Youngblood had vaulted over the back of the limousine seat onto Vice President Johnson, pushing him to the floor of the Lincoln convertible and shielding Johnson's body with his own. Johnson, in his statement to the Warren Commission, said that Youngblood reacted immediately after the first shot and was sitting on top of him by the time the second shot and fatal third shot were fired into Kennedy. Youngblood's heroic action earned him the Treasury Department's highest honor, the Exceptional Service Award, presented by President Johnson on Dec. 4, 1963. In his own testimony before the Warren Commission, Youngblood said: "As we were beginning to go down this incline, all of a sudden there was an explosive noise. I quickly observed unnatural movement of crowds, like ducking or scattering, and quick movements in the presidential follow-up car. So I turned around and hit the vice president on the shoulder and hollered, 'Get down,' and then looked around again and saw more of this movement, and so I proceeded to go to the back seat and get on top of him." From his position, Youngblood noticed "a grayish blur in the air above the right side of the president's car right after the third shot. "There were shouts from ahead, then the cars in front of us lurched forward toward the underpass." Analysis: the first shot as described by Youngblood was certainly not at frame 160. Not only did he claim he was traveling down Elm Street at the time, as opposed to just turning onto Elm, he said he observed unusual movement in the presidential limousine and back-up car just afterward. He also described two more shots, grouping them together in a manner suggestive they were bunched together, and not five seconds apart. He also marked on Exhibit CE 354 his impression of the Vice-Presidential limo's location at the time of the first shot. It was far down the road from its location at Z-160, and was probably closer to its location at Z-224. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Yarborough sat the on the back seat behind the driver of the Vice-Presidential car. He discussed the shooting with reporters outside Parkland Hospital while most everyone else went inside. (11-22-63
AP article found in the Long Beach Press-Telegram) "The horror of the
assassination was mirrored in an eye-witness account by Sen. Ralph
Yarborough, D-Tex., who had been riding three cars behind Kennedy. "You
could tell something awful and tragic had happened," the senator told
newsmen before Kennedy's death became known. His voice breaking and
his eyes red-rimmed, Yarborough said: "I could see a Secret Service man in the President s car leaning on the car with his hands in anger, anguish
and despair. I knew then something tragic had happened." Yarborough had
counted three rifle shots as the presidential limousine left downtown
Dallas through a triple underpass. The shots were fired from above —
possibly from one of the bridges or from a nearby building." (11-22-63 article in the Dallas Times-Herald) "To
the Texas Senator, it sounded like an explosion. 'There was this bang.
It wasn't bang-bang-bang. It was like someone was taking aim.' The
Senator, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and Lady Bird Johnson were in
the third car. 'After the second shot, a Secret Service man told the
Vice President and Mrs. Johnson to get down. The President's car ran off
at a terrible rate of speed. This is horrible.' ...Sen. Yarborough said
it seemed to him that the shots came from the right rear of the
motorcade. He said 'there were three definite reports, the last one came
after a pause.'" (11-22-63 report on NBC television, at approximately 1:45 PM) "Yarborough said he was in the third car behind the President. It seemed to him, he said, that at least two of the shots were fired from the right rear. He said he couldn't say anything about the third shot." (11-23-63 article in the Washington Post, quoting Yarborough's comments outside the hospital) "I heard three loud explosions that sounded like shots from a deer rifle. You could smell powder. It clung to our car all the way here. After the shots, a Secret Service man yelled to the Vice President, Mrs. Johnson and me 'Get down, get down, get down.' The shots came from the right rear.'" (11-23-63 article in the Chicago Sun-Times, quoting Yarborough's words outside Parkland Hospital) 'I heard three loud explosions like a deer rifle,' he said. 'You could smell powder on our car nearly all the way here (to the hospital). I was in the car with the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson. After the second shot, the Secret Service man had us to lie over so we wouldn't project on the seat. He said 'Get down! Get down! Get down' 'It seemed the shots came from the right rear.' He said there seemed to be a pause of a few seconds between the first and second shots. And then, he said, there was an even longer pause between the second and third shots. The third shot he heard might have been a Secret Service man returning the fire, he said. Yarborough said he saw a Secret Service man beating his fists against the side of the President's car, presumably 'in frustration, anger, and despair. He said his view of the President's car was partially blocked by a Secret Service car immediately ahead, but he could see no movement in the President's car after the shots. Then the President's car started off at a 'fast rate,' he said, and 'we knew something was wrong.'" (11-23-63 article quoting Yarborough in the San
Antonio Light)) "The shots were louder than a pistol. At first we
thought they were cherry bombs." (11-29-63 article in The Texas Observer, quoting
Yarborough's words outside Parkland Hospital. These quotes bear a close resemblance to the words in the Chicago Sun-Times' article, and may have been second-hand quotes taken from the article.) "I heard
three loud explosions, like a deer rifle. You could smell powder all the way here. I thought it was rifle shots… After the second shot, the Secret Service
man had us lie over so we wouldn’t project over the seat. He said “get down, get down, get down.” The shooting ended…There was a slight pause
between the shots… "Bang"…a pause of two or three seconds… "bang"…And then a longer pause before the
third shot." (11-30-63 AP article found in the 12-1-63 Washington Star, presumably quoting Yarborough's words outside Parkland Hospital) "Senator Yarborough, Democrat of Texas, said the sound was 'bang-bang-bang.' The Senator, a war veteran, said it sounded like measured fire, not a fusillade. He described the sounds before the type of rifle was known by him." (The Truth About the Assassination, 1967, by Charles Roberts of Newsweek, quoting Yarborough's words outside Parkland Hospital on 11-22-63) "'I smelled the gunpowder...It clung to the car nearly all the way to the hospital." (On Yarborough's response to Roberts' question about the location of Kennedy's head wound) "'I can't tell you,' he answered, unconsciously holding his hand to the right side of his head, where he had seen blood streaming from the President. 'This is a deed that's indescribable.'"
(12-17-63 letter to Earl Warren found in the Warren Commission's Key Person files) "Immediately after the firing of the first shot, the thought immediately went through my mind that 'that was a rifle shot.' It did not sound to me like a firecracker of a pistol, though I thought of them too, or the possibility of a small bomb. Another immediate impression that I had, was that the cavalcade had slowed down, almost stopped...After the second shot, I could smell gunpowder very strongly and the rancid smell of gunpowder stayed in our nostrils for minutes as we raced toward Parkland Hospital. This caused me some difficulty, as I'd never smelt so much gunpowder from three rifle shots, and I'd begun to think that perhaps someone had thrown a small bomb in the presidential car, but I presume that this smell of gunpowder...might have been caused by the fallout of the powder from the rifle, which was being fired from the building directly behind the third car in which we were riding, and over our heads, and over the heads of those in the second car, the Secret Service car, into President Kennedy." (4-6-64 interview with William Manchester, as recounted in The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After, 2009) "At the first shot, I knew right away it was a rifle shot. I began to smell it before the second shot, and I thought that was odd. The reason I smelled it is that we were right under the trajectory--right in front of the muzzle blast." (4-6-64, 11-11-64, and 5-26-65 interviews with William
Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Most
of the hunters in the motorcade--Sorrels, Connally, Yarborough,
Gonzalez, Albert Thomas--instinctively identified it as rifle fire." (On what came next) "In the Vice Presidential car, Yarborough thought he smelled gunpowder. 'My God! he yelled. 'They've shot the President!'" (On
whether or not Youngblood climbed into the back seat) "Ralph Yarborough goes further: he insists that Youngblood never left the front seat. It is the Senator's recollection that the agent merely leaned over the seat and talked to Johnson in an undertone. He contends that there was insufficient space in the rear for Youngblood." (4-20-64 memo by Warren Commission attorney Arlen Specter to Warren Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin on a 4-9-64 interview of Yarborough, found in the commission's Key Persons files) "Senator Yarborough said that the motorcade was proceeding slowly as it turned left onto Elm Street off of Houston Street. There were three shots, with approximately 5 seconds elapsing between the first and third shots. According to Senator Yarborough the tempo was a "boom, 1, 2, 3--boom 1-1/2-boom". The first report was a big boom, although not particularly sharp, but Senator Yarborough recognized immediately that it was a rifle shot. At that time the motorcade slowed down and almost seemed to stop, and Senator Yarborough said that he then smelled gunpowder which he recognized very distinctly from his extensive experience with firearms. After the third shot, the motorcade accelerated sharply and proceeded to the hospital." (Later) "He was asked specifically about the action taken by Special Agent Youngblood. Senator Yarborough stated that Special Agent Youngblood did not come into the back seat until the shooting and the danger were all over. He volunteered the additional information that the Secret Service responded very slowly." (March-May 1964 memo written for the Dallas Morning News by newsman Mike Quinn, in which his recollections of 11-22-63 were recorded for posterity, as published in JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes, 2013) "We walked around in back to the emergency entrance and the first person I saw was Ralph Yarborough. Looking back on it now, I think I was in a state of shock--or something like it--but I started getting quotes from Ralph about what had happened. I do not remember exactly what he said but I do remember his eyes filling with tears and his saying--in a barely audible voice "This is a terrible thing." (March-May 1964 memo written for the Dallas Morning News by newsman Wick Fowler, in which his recollections of 11-22-63 were recorded for posterity, as published in JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes, 2013) "At the office a group of editorial room workers were gathered about the photo radio transmitter and receiver. Tom Simmons put me to taking notes from Mike Quinn over the radio. Quinn was at Parkland Hospital. He reported that he was getting an eye-witness account of the shooting from U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough. Yarboroough, he said, reported that when the fatal shots were fired, secret service men fired back at the building with submachine guns. He said he could smell smoke all the way to the hospital. This was later refuted." (7-10-64 affidavit, 7H439-440) “as the motorcade went
down the slope of Elm Street toward the railroad underpass, a rifle shot was
heard by me; a loud blast, close by…When the noise of the shot was heard, the
motorcade slowed to what seemed to me a complete stop (though it could have
been a near stop). After what I took to
be about three seconds, another shot boomed out, and after what I took to be one-half
the time between the first and second shots (calculated now, this would have
put the third shot about one and one-half seconds after the second shot--by my estimate--to me there seemed to be a long time between the first and second shots, a much shorter time between the second and third shots--these were my impressions that day) a
third shot was fired. After the third shot was fired, but only after the third
shot was fired, the cavalcade speeded up, gained speed rapidly, and roared away to Parkland Hospital. I heard three shots and no more. All seemed to come from my right rear. I saw people fall to the ground on
the embankment on our right, at about the time or after the second shot, but
before the cavalcade started up and raced away.”
(3-7-75 article in the Dallas Times-Herald, on Yarborough's favoring a new investigation) "Yarborough ...said he disagrees with Warren Commission findings that only two shots were fired. He said he heard three within a span of about five seconds as the car in which he was riding was passing underneath the School Book Depository Building during the President's motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963...When the shots rang out, he said his first reaction was 'the noise and the smell of gunpowder.' 'We were right under the trajectory (of the) shot...'Powder was falling right on us.'" (3-9-75 article in the Dallas Morning News on Yarborough's recent comments) "Although he watched ABC-TV's showing of Abraham Zapruder's home movie of the assassination, the former senator said the film had not affected his opinions...He said there were no shots from the front as it appeared in the film, and three shots, not two, as reported by the Warren Commission, were fired." (3-28-75 article in the Dallas Times-Herald, quoting an ABC TV report from the evening before) "Yarborough, riding two cars behind the President, said he, too, heard three shots, but he believed some had been fired from in front of Kennedy and not from the Texas School Book Depository where Oswald allegedly fired the shots that killed Kennedy. 'You don't smell gunfire unless you are upwind from it, and it blows in your face,' said Yarborough, who has urged the reopening of the investigation. He said he could not have smelled the gunpowder if the shots had been fired from behind the motorcade." (12-27-78
letter to the HSCA, HSCA vol. V, p.698) “In the motorcade in Dallas,
the first explosion was so distinct in its nature that my mental processes
immediately registered “rifle shot” — it was an immediate mental reaction
without conscious thought process on my part.
On many occasions since, I have stated that there were definitely three
explosions (this while the FBI was expounding its two shot theory), but during
all these years I have been troubled by the fact that the two subsequent
explosions did not sound like that first clear sound of indisputable rifle
fire, clear as a signal. I assumed that
the difference might have been caused by the changed position of the car, or
other movement. The recent revelations
of a possible fourth shot possibly clear up that doubt as to the reason for the
difference in sound between the different explosions.” (11-13-83
UPI article found in the Paris Texas News) "He remembers the sharp
crack of rifle fire and the smell of gunsmoke drifting down above his
right shoulder as Johnson's car rolled past the southeast corner of the
Texas School Book Depository. "I've hunted all my life, I handled all
kinds of weapons in the Army, and I knew it was rifle shots, and there
were only three," he says." (1988 interview with author Joseph McBride, as recounted by McBride on the Education Forum, 4-16-16) "The first shot I heard I thought was a rifle shot. The second shot, the motorcade almost came to a halt. They said later that the president‘s car slowed to something like five miles an hour. I wondered what the hell they were stopping for when somebody is shooting. People were jumping out of the car in front of me [the Secret Service followup car] and running to the president‘s car. I thought maybe somebody had thrown a bomb in there. The third shot I heard was a rifle shot." (Interview with Jim Marrs published in
"I thought 'Was that a bomb thrown?" and then the other shots were
fired. And the motorcade, which had slowed to a stop, took off. A
second or two later, I smelled gunpowder. I always thought that was
strange because, being familiar with firearms, I never could see how I
could smell the powder from a rifle high in that building." (1-18-92 Interview with Deborah and Gerald Strober, published in Let us Begin Anew, 1993) "And then the shots rang out. I knew that the first one was a rifle shot. And I knew that the third one was a rifle shot. And I was kind of dumb-fussing about the middle one, because there were three distinct explosions. That Warren Report that there were two was just a lot of bunk. The third one caused my confusion there. Immediately after the first shot the motorcade slowed up--slowed up to just nearly a walk. I thought it stopped. And I could smell smoke--gunsmoke --'cause it's coming down from that rifle right over us; we were in the back seat, behind it, that second shot, then it came. It was just like counting: one, two, three. I thought: My goodness. Was there a bomb? What's that smoke up there? And what are they stopping for? Was I mistaken? Was that a bomb, instead of a rifle? And then, after the third shot, they took off. Well, after the confusion of the second shot, I just assumed it was all in one place. I was very much concerned about that second shot, because I was smelling smoke. Somebody--one of the Lyndon Johnson men--was trying to discredit me; he said I was so excited I thought I smelled gunsmoke. I told the Dallas police later--I was by there later and saw them--and they said, "We all smelled that gunsmoke." Let me tell you one thing that didn't happen: that cock and bull story he (Johnson) told about Youngblood pushing him down and jumping over and sitting on him. It's just plain--a fabrication. It didn't happen at all. Youngblood turned around. He had a little box--I guess it was an information box from the radio--and he leaned over. See, we had a small car; you couldn't have pushed big old Lyndon down there. So Youngblood leaned over and looked right in Johnson's eyes, and Johnson looked straight ahead and didn't look at anything." Analysis: Yarborough's statements regarding the spacing of the shots suggest the first two shots were bunched. He was more consistent on some of the other aspects, however, and these aspects suggest that Yarborough heard the shots much as most everyone else. As Yarborough
notes that the motorcade slowed down after the first shot, and as the motorcade
only slowed down after agent Greer turned around to look at the President circa frame 255 of the Zapruder film, his statements are inconsistent with a first shot miss at frame
160 and a second shot hit around frame 224, as proposed in the LPM scenario. His statement that people dived to
the ground after the second shot, when, as we shall see, none of the close-by
witnesses recalled diving to the ground before witnessing the head shot,
suggests as well that the second shot was the head shot, and that a third shot followed.
First shot hit 190-224. Last shot probably after the head shot.
Lady Bird Johnson sat next to Yarborough in the middle of the back seat of the Vice-Presidential car. (Transcription from a tape recording started on 11-30-63, and then added to over the next two days, 5H564-567) “we were rounding a curve, going down a hill and suddenly there was a sharp loud report—a shot. It seemed to me to come from the right, above my shoulder, from a building. Then a moment and then two more shots in rapid succession. There had been such a gala air that I thought it must be firecrackers or some sort of celebration. Then, in the lead car, the Secret Service men were suddenly down. I heard over the radio system “Let’s get out of here,” and our Secret Service man who was with us, Rufus Youngblood I believe it was, vaulted over the front seat on top of Lyndon, threw him to the floor and said “Get down.” (Interview with Ruth Montgomery conducted a few weeks after the assassination, as quoted in Montgomery's 1964 book Mrs. LBJ, and serialized in the 5-7-64 Milwaukee Sentinel) "I had never thought that there would be anything worse than a hurled tomato, or egg, or an ugly sign, but suddenly in that brilliant sunshine there was a sharp rifle shot. It came, I thought, from over my right shoulder. A moment passed. And then there were two more in rapid succession. I could see in almost the same instant that everybody in the lead car went down. Rufus Youngblood, the Secret Service man who was in the front seat of our car, simply vaulted across to the back. I don't see how he got over in that crowded space, but he fell on top of Lyndon and pushed him to the floor. Mr. Youngblood is the politest of men, but he just said to Senator Yarborough and me, in a pre-emptory voice, "Get down." (3-1-64 L.A. Times article by Frances Spatz Leighton, presumably built upon discussions with Mrs. Johnson) "12:30 PM: She heard three shots. Firecrackers, she thought, still smiling. 12:31 PM: a voice on the intercom car radio said sharply 'Let's get out of here!' Secret Serviceman Rufus Youngblood had thrown himself over her husband and said in a commanding voice 'Get down, get down, get down!' She obeyed, crouching far down as she felt the car lurch forward." (6-15-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the last thing she noticed before hearing the first shot) "Lady Bird had been gazing idly at the red brick of the Dal-Tex Building and then the rust-colored brick facade of the Book depository." (On what happened after the first shot) "In the Vice Presidential car, Yarborough thought he smelled gunpowder. 'My God! he yelled. 'They've shot the President!' Lady Bird gasped, "Oh, no, that can't be!'" (On whether or not Youngblood climbed into the back seat) "Lady Bird and Hurchel Jacks--Jacks could see the back seat in his rear-view mirror--agree that Youngblood's head and shoulders were in the rear, with Johnson beneath him. 'Get down!' the agent kept shouting in his Georgia drawl. Lady Bird leaned to the left, against Yarborough. She was thinking, There isn't much down to get." (Interview in PBS documentary "LBJ", broadcast 1997) "It all began so hopefully, but the feeling in Texas was not good for Kennedy and so, of course, we were uptight. And we were going along and I was heaving a sigh of relief, "Thank the Lord, everything's going to be all right," and then came that shot. The Secret Serviceman suddenly vaulted over Lyndon and pushed him to the floor." Analysis: Mrs. Johnson’s recollections regarding the shots themselves are in line with those of Jacks and Youngblood. Her statements that they were “rounding a curve”—not “making a turn”--and “going down a hill” place the limousine further down the street than it was at frame 160. While her statement that the shot came from her right led Vince Bugliosi and others to cite her statement as evidence that she was saying the shot came from the sniper's nest as early as frame 160, the building to the right of Mrs. Johnson at frame 160 was not the school book depository, but the Dal-Tex Building. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Vice-President Lyndon Johnson sat on the right-hand side of the back seat of the Lincoln. (11-23-63 letter to Secret Service Chief James Rowley) “Upon hearing the first shot, Mr. Youngblood instantly vaulted across the front seat of my car, pushed me to the floor and shielded my body with his own.” (6-24-64 written response to William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Above the car radio Lyndon Johnson had heard what he knew to be an explosion. Before he could define it further he saw Youngblood coming over the front seat toward him" (On whether or not Youngblood climbed into the back seat while shots were still being fired) "According to Johnson, Rufus Youngblood hurled him to the floor before the fatal shot." (7-10-64 statement, 5H561-564) “The motorcade proceeded down Main Street and then turned right on Houston. It then turned into Elm, which is a block, I believe, beyond the intersection of Main and Houston. The crowd on Elm Street was smaller. As the motorcade proceeded down Elm Street to the point where the assassination occurred, it was traveling at a speed which I should estimate at 12 or 15 miles and hour. After we had proceeded a short way down Elm Street, I heard a sharp report. The crowd at this point had become somewhat spotty. The Vice-Presidential car was then about three car lengths behind President Kennedy's car, with the Presidential followup car intervening. I was startled by the sharp report or explosion. but I had no time to speculate as to its origin because Agent Youngblood turned in a flash, immediately after the first explosion, hitting me on the shoulder, and shouted to all of us in the back seat to get down. I was pushed down by Agent Youngblood. Almost in the same moment in which he hit or pushed me, he vaulted over the back seat and sat on me. I was bent over under the weight of Agent Youngblood's body, toward Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough. I remember attempting to turn my head to make sure that Mrs. Johnson had bent down. Both she and Senator Yarborough had crouched down at Agent Youngblood's command. At some time in this sequence of events. I heard other explosions. It was impossible for me to tell the direction from which the explosions came." (8-19-69 tape prepared for Johnson's memoir The Vantage Point, as transcribed and published by Michael Beschloss in the December, 2001 issue of Texas Monthly) "I was very impressed and very pleased with the crowds. Then we heard shots. It never occurred to me that it was an assassination or a killing. I just thought it was firecrackers or a car backfiring. I had heard those all my life. Any politician—any man in public life—gets used to that kind of sound. The first time I knew that there was anything unusual was when the car lunged forward. And at the same time, this great big old boy from Georgia said, “Down!” And he got on top of me. I knew then that this was no normal operation. Something came over the radio. No—I don’t know whether I really heard this or whether I’ve just read it and it impressed me so much that I assume I heard it. Anyhow it said, “We’re getting out of here.” (The Vantage Point, 1971) "Just after our car made a left turn at the top of Elm, I was startled by an explosion...I did not know what it was. Before the echo had subsided, before the noise had completely registered on my consciousness, Agent Youngblood spun around, shoved me on the shoulder to push me down, and shouted to all of us, "Get down!" Almost in the same moment, he vaulted over the seat, pushed me to the floor, and sat on my right shoulder to keep me down and protect me. "Get down!" he shouted again to all of us...I still was not clear about what was happening...At some time in the sequence of events, I heard other explosions. It was impossible to tell where they were coming from and I still was not certain what they were. Then a voice came crackling over the radio system: 'Let's get out of here.'" Analysis: as the limousine was just turning onto Elm Street at frame 160, and as President Johnson described proceeding down Elm Street "a short way" before hearing the first shot, his statement is suggestive the first shot was heard after frame 160. His contention that Youngblood climbed on top of him after the first shot, when Youngblood is still in the front seat of the Lincoln at Z-255, is more than suggestive that there had only been one shot by that point, which must have hit, and that two shots followed. His description of “other explosions” is suggestive that these explosions were closely spaced, but is too vague to come to a conclusion. First shot hit 190-224.
Joe Henry Rich drove the Vice-Presidential back-up car. (11-28-63 statement to the Secret Service, 18H800) “We turned off of Houston Street onto Elm Street and that was when I heard the first shot. I noticed a lot of confusion up ahead of me, motorcycle policemen and in the President’s car and the President’s security car. This Secret Service man in the front seat made the remark “What the hell was that?’ and about that time I heard two more shots. The cars ahead of me started up then at a fast pace.” Analysis: Rich’s statement is short but to the point. They were on Elm, which places the shot after 160. The last two shots are mentioned together, which at this point we can assume means they were bunched together. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Cliff Carter sat in the front seat of the back-up car beside Rich. (5-20-64 affidavit built upon a 4-9-64 interview by Arlen Specter, 7H474-475) “At approximately 12:30 PM our car had just made the left hand turn onto Elm and was right along side of the Texas School Book Depository Building when I heard a noise which sounded like a firecracker. Special Agent Youngblood, who was seated on the right hand side of front seat of the Vice-President’s car immediately turned and pushed Vice-President Johnson down and in the same motion vaulted over the seat and covered the Vice president with his body. At that instant, Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough who were riding in the back seat along with the Vice President, bent forward. Special Agent Youngblood’s action came immediately after the first shot and before the succeeding shots. I distinctly remember three shots. There was an interval of approximately 5 to 6 seconds from the first to the last shot, and the three shots were evenly spaced." (10-1-68 oral history interview with the Johnson Library) "this first shot that was fired came right over my right shoulder. My immediate reaction--I thought it was a cherry bomb-type firecracker. I thought somebody had popped a firecracker. But then quickly I saw Rufus Youngblood in the Vice-President's car just immediately ahead reach over and shove Mr. Johnson down and jumped in the back seat himself and put himself over Mr. Johnson's body. And about this time I saw something also going on up in the first car--in the President's car...It was about three quarters of a block before--maybe a block, I don't remember--from the corner of the Depository to the underpass that we were fixing to go under. And then I saw something happening in the President's car also. About that time the second shot was fired. The next thing I noticed Mrs. Kennedy was trying to get out of the President's car. She had jumped out of the seat and had jumped out on the back--the rear end of the car and was trying leave; it looked like she had been hit. By the time the second shot was fired, of course, I realized by this time that someone was firing at the cars and she had made a movement that looked like she almost vaulted out of the back seat out on the back end of the car and was trying to get off the car...I had seen President Kennedy slump over, but we couldn't tell, at this minute, couldn't tell how bad anything was...There were three shots fired, Dorothy, and there is no question. I heard three and the timing is very clear in my mind even today. And I have fired--when I was in the Army, I fired rifles--there's no question that one man could easily do this. In my mind there's no question but what one man did do it. I don't know whether it was Lee Harvey Oswald or who it was, but moving at the slow speed that our motorcade was, everybody in there was an easy target. Anybody that can half-way fire a rifle would have no trouble picking off any target he wanted to. One, it was a very easy shot. And secondly, it was very easy to flip the emptied shell out and load a new one and fire again. It was done, I think, in six or seven seconds, they say, and it could be very easily done. And all the firing came right over my right shoulder. There was none in front or back or any place." Analysis: since the car was on Elm at the time of the first shot, the first shot must have come after frame 160, when the car was just turning onto Elm. Furthermore, since Carter says there had been but one shot at the time agent Youngblood vaulted into the back seat and since the Altgens photo at frame 255 shows this event had not yet taken place, there were not two early shots. Carter's statements to the Library are also of interest. Here, he confirms that the shot forcing Jackie to get out of the car was the second shot. His insistence that the shots were easy and that they all came from the depository is also intriguing. In the early 1980's a former crony of Carter's and Johnson's named Billie Sol Estes came forward with a story implicating Carter and Johnson in Kennedy's death. That Carter is the one person in the motorcade, outside Johnson, implicated in Kennedy's murder, and he's also the one motorcade witness to insist the shots were easy and that there was but one shooter, only adds to the intrigue. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot probably after the head shot).
Jerry Kivett sat on the right side of the front seat of the VP back-up car. (11-29-63 report, 18H776-781) “the motorcade was heading slightly downhill toward an underpass. As the motorcade was approximately 1/3 the way to the underpass, traveling between 10 and 15 miles per hour, I heard a loud noise—someone hollered “What was that?” As I was looking in the direction of the noise, which was to my right rear, I heard another report—then there was no doubt in my mind what was happening—I looked toward the Vice Presidential car, and as I did so, I could see the spectators—approximately 25-50, scattering—some were falling to the ground, some were running up a small hill, and some were just standing there stunned—here I heard the third shot.” Analysis: Kivett heard the first shot as they were already on Elm, so no first shot miss at 160. As with Yarborough, Kivett saw people scatter after the second shot. As none of those who scattered reported doing so before the head shot, this indicates there was a shot after the head shot. First shot hit 190 -224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
Warren Taylor sat in the back seat of the VP back-up car behind the driver. (11-29-63 report, 18H782-784) “Our automobile had just turned a corner (the names of the streets are unknown to me) when I heard a bang which sounded to me like a possible firecracker—the sound coming from my right rear. Out of the corner of my eye and off slightly to the right rear of our car, I noticed what now seems to me might have been a short piece of streamer flying in the air close to the ground…I opened the door and prepared to get out of the car. In the instant that my left foot touched the ground, I heard two more bangs and realized they must be gun shots. Also at that instant, the car paused slightly and I heard something over the radio to the effect that something or someone had been shot. At that moment the car picked up speed and I pulled myself back into the car.” Analysis: as Taylor describes the car as having already turned the corner when the first shot rang out, and the car had not turned the corner by frame 160, his report indicates the first shot came afterward. As he heard the second and third shots as he put his foot on the ground, and as the Altgens photo circa Z-255 shows his door opened but no foot on the ground, it also follows that shots two and three were bunched together around the time of the head shot. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Thomas (Lem) Johns sat on the right side of the back seat of the VP back-up car. (11-29-63 report, 18H773-775) “at approximately 12:35 PM CST, I heard two “shots,” not knowing whether they were firecrackers, backfire or gun shots. These two shots were approximately two or three seconds apart, and at this time we were on a slight downhill curve to the right. On the right hand side of the motorcade from the street, a grassy area sloped upward to a small 2 or 3 foot concrete wall with sidewalk area. When the shots sounded, I was looking to the right and saw a man standing and then being thrown or hit to the ground, and this together with the shots made the situation appear dangerous…I jumped from the security car and started running for the Vice President’s car…Before I reached the Vice president’s car a third shot had sounded and the entire motorcade then picked up speed and I was left on the street.” (8-8-78 interview with HSCA investigator, file # 180-10074-10079) “I heard two shots. They seemed close together. They were shots, not backfires, or firecrackers. Our car was moving very slowly, and my door was open so I jumped out on the street. Before I could begin to move towards the VP’s car I heard the third shot. The first two sounded like they were on the side of me towards the grassy knoll but then that’s because of the confinement of the backseat and opening to that side plus the fact that people falling to the ground on the grassy slope made me feel that the shots were from that direction. I never got a fix on the third shot because I was running toward LBJ’s car, which was now some distance away from us and picking up speed.” (2-21-99 article by Michael Dorman in Newsday, when discussing the possibility the fibers found on the bullet nose were fibers from JFK's tie) "Lem Johns, a former assistant Secret Service director in charge of all the agency's protective operations, was an agent riding in the Dallas motorcade. 'If you get the tie nicked by a different bullet, you've got a second gunman - simple as that,' Johns said. 'I've never thought that was out of the question.'" (12-30-11 article by Rick Watson on 280living.wordpress.com, built upon an interview with Johns) “'I was in the right rear seat of the car following the vice president’s limo, and I heard a shot that came from the right,' he said. Johns was riding in the third car in the motorcade with his door cracked, and the instant he heard the shot, he bolted from the vehicle and raced toward Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson’s limo." (Chapter by Johns in November 22, 1963, by Dean Owen, published 2013) "As we started down the incline on Elm Street, I heard the shots. I saw people on the grassy knoll hitting the ground. I started opening the door and jumping out to run to the vice-president's car, which had slowed." Analysis: although the closeness in time of the first two shots described by Johns gives the appearance he is describing the LPM scenario, this fails to hold up under close examination. For one, he indicates the back-up car was already on Elm when the shots rang out, when the car at frame 160, when the LPM scenario holds the first shot was fired, was in the middle of the turn onto Elm. For two, he claims he bolted from the car after the second shot, after seeing a man fall to the ground. Well, seeing as one can look and look at the photos and films and find no evidence anyone fell to the ground before the head shot, this suggests the second shot Johns heard was the head shot, and not the single-bullet shot, as in the LPM scenario. His vague recollection of hearing a third shot after this point, moreover, is in keeping with what many others remembered. Probable first shot 190-224. Possible shot after the head shot.
Milton Wright was the driver of the next car in the motorcade, the car of Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell, which was yet to make the turn onto Elm in frame 160. (11-28-63 statement, 18H802) “The car I was driving had just turned onto Elm Street and approximately 30 feet from the intersection when I heard the first shot. When the second shot was fired I noticed a number of people running away from the motorcade and I saw several Dallas motorcycle policemen had their guns drawn. Then the motorcade speeded up and we went toward the hospital.” (8-28-98 letter to Vince Palamara quoted in JFK: The Medical Evidence Reference and featured in Palamara's Youtube video JFK Assassination Rarities Part 2) “As we were turning in front of the book depository, the first shot was fired. When the second shot was fired I believed that it came from the book building. I stopped and was looking at the building when the third shot was fired. I did not see the rifle because I was too close to the building and the shooter was inside the building. If you read the Warren Report you probably saw that Mrs. Cabell stated she saw the rifle being pulled back into the building after the third shot. That was impossible because of our position and she was riding in the left rear. After the first shot she slid down in the seat with her back to the building. I gave an affidavit to the Secret Service but my testimony was not usable. Mrs. Cabell was flown to Washington to testify. That's how her husband got to be a congressman. While I was thinking about this, I tried to recall who the third passenger was in my car. Do you know?” Analysis: Wright’s initial statement that he was 30 feet down Elm at the time of the first shot and that people were running away from the motorcade after the second shot could indicate he missed the first shot and only heard the last two bunched together. His more recent statements to Palamara, however, indicate he heard three shots. If this is so, then he heard a shot after the head shot, as he initially said he saw people running after the second shot. Since even in this statement, he claims they were turning in front of the building at the time of the first shot, we can rule out a first shot miss at frame 160. First shot 190-224. Last two shots possibly bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
Roberts sat in the front seat next to Wright but never filed a report or gave an interview in which he described the shooting. If Wright was telling the truth in his letter to Palamara, it seems possible Roberts didn't want to say anything that would conflict with Mrs. Cabell's claim she saw the rifle. (7-13-64 testimony of Mrs. Earle Cabell before the Warren Commission,
7H485-491) (When asked how soon after the shots were fired was it that she first smelled gunpowder) "I cannot say for sure, because as I told you, the motorcade was
stopped. And somewhere in there, Congressman Roberts said, "That is a
.30-06." I didn't know what a .30-06 was." (When asked if she'd mentioned the gunpowder at the time) "No; because there was too much confusion. But I mentioned it to
Congressman Roberts when we were in Washington a couple of weeks ago." (When asked if he'd told her he'd also smelled gunpowder) "As well as I remember, he said 'Yes.' We were in a group, a large
group, and there was much conversation."
Mrs. Earle (Dearie) Cabell, the wife of the mayor, sat in the back seat on the left hand side. (7-2-64 AP article found in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal) "Mrs. Cabell earlier revealed that she saw the rifle of the assassin extending from a window of the Texas School Book Depository Building. She said she heard the first shot and then looked up, seeing the rifle immediately. The Cabells were in the fourth automobile behind the president's convertible. 'I never saw a person or even a person's hand on the rifle,' Mrs. Cabell said." (7-13-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H485-491) “Congressman Roberts was sitting just as this lady is now, and turned the same way. I was turned facing him. The position of our car was such that when the first shot rang out; my position was such that I did not have to turn to look at the building. I was directly facing it…we were making the turn…Just on the turn…I heard the direction from which the shot came, and I just jerked my head up…I saw a projection out of one of those windows…I turned around to say to Earle “Earle, it is a shot” and before I got the words out, just as I got the words out, he said “Oh no; it must have been a ---“ the second two shots rang out.” Analysis: Mrs. Cabell’s placement of the car as just on the turn is consistent with a first shot at Z-190. Her statement that the second two shots rang out implies they rang out together. First shot hit 190. Last two shots bunched together.
Mayor Earle Cabell
sat in the back seat on the right side. (7-13-64
testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H476-485) “Well we were just rounding
the corner of Market and Elm, making the left turn, when the first shot rang
out…I heard the shot. Mrs. Cabell said
“Oh, a gun” or “a shot” and I was about to deny and say “Oh, it must be a firecracker” when the
second and third shots rang out. There
was a longer pause between the first and second shots than there was between
the second and third shots.” Analysis: despite mistakenly calling Houston
“Market,” Mayor Cabell confirms his wife’s statements in every way. First
shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched
We have now looked at the statements of 32 motorcade
witnesses, only three (Jackson, Bennett, and Johns) who have made statements remotely
supporting the LPM scenario. Even more convincing, the statements of all three of these witnesses, when compared to the photographic evidence, are equally suggestive
of the scenario described by the bulk of the other witnesses. From this we can make the assertion that the
eyewitness evidence supports a first shot hit, followed after a pause by two
shots bunched closely together. This scenario is consistent with the words of
most every witness so far. That CBS, the
HSCA, Lattimer, Posner, Myers, and ABC have been able to convince so many there
was a first shot miss is proof positive that myths and myth-making are not
things of the past, but of the here and now.
But let’s continue on with this analysis and leave no stone unturned.
As previously discussed, Zapruder frame 160 does not show the car of Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell making the turn onto Elm Street. This is a blow to the LPM scenario, as the passengers in the Cabell car all reported hearing the first shot ring out as they negotiated this turn. Unfortunately, it is difficult to figure out just when this car did make negotiate the turn. When I looked at the Altgens photo, which shows the Elm/Houston intersection circa Z-255, I fully expected to see the Cabell car back behind the Vice-Presidential back-up car. But it was nowhere to be seen. This led me to compare the Altgens photo to the first frame of the Wiegman film, which shows the Cabell car in the intersection and is widely reported as beginning at a point 3½ seconds before the Z-313 head shot, at approximately Z-247 (In 2007, Dale Myers published a comprehensive study of the assassination films and concluded it begins at Z-245). Something was wrong. If the Wiegman film really begins around frame 247, the Cabell car should be in the Altgens photo. Eventually, I concluded that the first frame of the Wiegman film I'd been studying--which showed both the Cabell car directly in front of the school book depository and a blue Impala press car in the middle of the intersection--correlated to frame 265 of the Zapruder film. (I later realized that there were a number of frames clipped from the beginning of the Wiegman film I'd been studying, and that this accounted for much of the discrepancy.) Anyhow, this suggested that the blue Impala hard-top would have been just approaching the turn at the time of the first shot should it have been fired around Z-190, and would have still been on the straightaway of Houston Street should it have been fired around Z-160.
Merriman Smith, a reporter for UPI, sat next to the driver of the blue Impala. After the shots rang out, he picked up the car phone and called the Dallas UPI bureau. As a result his first reports were on the wire before the president's limo even reached the hospital. (11-22-63, 12:34, earliest UPI teletype) "Three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas." (11-22-63, 12:39 UPI teletype) “Kennedy seriously wounded, perhaps seriously, perhaps fatally, by assassin's bullet." (11-22-63, 12:45 UPI teletype) "Reporters about five car lengths behind the Chief Executive heard what sounded like three bursts of gunfire. Secret Service agents in a follow-up car quickly unlimbered their automatic rifles. The bubble top of the President's car was down. They drew their pistols, but the damage was done. The President was slumped over in the backseat of the car face down. Connally lay on the floor of the rear seat. It was impossible to tell at once where Kennedy was hit, but bullet wounds in Connally's chest were plainly visible, indicating the gunfire might possibly have come from an automatic weapon. There were three loud bursts. Dallas motorcycle officers escorting the President quickly leaped from their bikes and raced up a grassy knoll." (11-22-63, 12:46 UPI teletype) “It was impossible to tell at once where Kennedy was hit, but bullet wounds in Connally’s chest were plainly visible, indicating the gunfire might possibly have come from an automatic weapon. There were three loud bursts. Dallas motorcycle officers escorting the President quickly leaped from their bikes and raced up a grassy hill.” (11-22-63, a 12:54 Smith dispatch to UPI) “Some of the Secret Service agents thought the gunfire was from an automatic weapon fired to the right rear of the president's car, probably from a grassy knoll to which police rushed." (11-22-63 statement regarding the number of shots while on the flight back from Dallas, as recalled by reporter Charles Roberts in The Truth About the Assassination, 1967) "Smith had heard three." (Smith’s 11-23-63 Pulitzer-prize winning eyewitness account, published in hundreds of papers) “The procession cleared the center of the business district and turned into a handsome highway that wound through what appeared to be a park. I was riding in the so-called White House press “pool” car, a telephone company vehicle equipped with a mobile radio-telephone. I was in the front seat between a driver from the Telephone Company and Malcolm Kilduff, acting White House press secretary for the President’s Texas tour. Three other pool reporters were wedged in the back seat. Suddenly we heard three loud, almost painfully loud cracks. The first sounded as if it might have been a large firecracker. But the second and third blasts were unmistakable. Gunfire. The President’s car, possibly as much as 150 or 200 yards ahead, seemed to falter briefly. We saw a flurry of activity in the Secret Service follow-up car behind the Chief Executive’s bubble-top limousine…Our car stood still for probably only a few seconds, but it seemed like a lifetime.” (Smith’s Pulitzer-prize winning eyewitness account, as edited and published in the Los Angeles Times, 11-24-63) “It was a balmy, sunny noon as we followed President Kennedy's car through downtown Dallas. Then, suddenly, we heard three almost painfully loud cracks. The first sounded as if it might have been a large firecracker. But the second and third blasts were unmistakably gunfire. I was riding in the White House press “pool” car, equipped with a radio-telephone. I was in the front seat between a telephone company driver and Malcolm Kilduff, acting White House press secretary. Three other pool reporters were wedged in the back seat. As we heard the shots the president’s car, possibly as much as 150 or 200 yards ahead, seemed to falter. There was a flurry of activity in the Secret Service car behind the President's open limousine. Our car stopped for probably only a few seconds, but it seemed like a lifetime.”(4-14-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) "Smith was not as astute a reporter as he seemed. Despite extensive experience with weapons he had thought the sounds in the plaza were three shots from an automatic weapon, and in a subsequent message he identified them as 'bursts.'" (11-14-66 UPI article found in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. This version of the article was published in the 11-20-66 Washington Post as well.) “I was only a few hundred feet from John F. Kennedy when he was shot in Dallas. I would swear there were three shots and only three shots fired at his motorcade. The car In which I rode as a press association reporter was not far from the presidential vehicle Itself, and in clear view of it. We were at the point of coming out of an underpass when the first shot was fired. The sound was not entirely crisp and it seemed for a split second like a firecracker, a big one. As we cleared the underpass, then came the second and third shots. The shots were fired smoothly and evenly. There was not the slightest doubt on the front seat of our car that the shots came from a rifle to our rear (and the Book Depository at this point was directly to our rear). We remarked about rifle fire before we knew what had happened to Kennedy, although we had seen him slide from view in the rear of the open White House car...Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent who raced from the follow-up car to the presidential vehicle to shield the fallen leader and his shocked wife, Jacqueline, heard only three shots.” (11-14-66 UPI article found in the Bucks County Courier Times, with the references to the underpass removed from the more prevalent version above. Presumably, an alert editor at this paper caught Smith's mistake.) "I was only a few hundred feet from John F. Kennedy when he was shot in Dallas. I would swear there were three shots and only three fired at his motorcade. The car In which I rode as a press association reporter was not far from the presidential vehicle Itself, and in clear view of it when the first shot was fired. The sound was not entirely crisp and it seemed for a split second like a firecracker, a big one. Then came the second and third shots. The shots were fired smoothly and evenly. There was not the slightest doubt on the front seat of our car that the shots came from a rifle to our rear (and the Book Depository at this point was directly to our rear). We remarked about rifle fire before we knew what had happened to Kennedy, although we had seen him slide from view in the rear of the open White House car." Analysis: Smith’s reporting of bursts and automatic weapon fire, and his subsequent representation of the last two shots together, indicates he probably heard the last two shots together. His dispatch stating that Connally’s chest wounds indicated the use of an automatic weapon suggests, moreover, that he at least briefly suspected that shots had come from the grassy knoll. Intriguingly, given Smith's subsequent suicide, his 1966 article shows that either he’d “corrected” his impressions to match the official version, or was beginning to lose his mind. There was, of course, no underpass to “clear” which might account for the different sound of the first shot. Clint Hill, of course, had consistently claimed he'd heard but two shots, not three. The Texas School Book Depository “directly" to Smith's rear during the last two shots was, for that matter, in front of him or to his right as late as frame 265, the beginning of the Wiegman film. Smith's recollection that the depository was to his rear when the second and third shots were fired can therefore be taken as an indication that the second shot he heard was seconds after frame 265, and quite possibly the head shot. Probable first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Secretary Malcolm Kilduff sat on the right side of the front seat of the
“pool” car. (11-22-63 1:30 P.M. press conference in which Kilduff announced Kennedy's death) (When asked how many shots he'd heard) "I was in the pool car. We heard three." (When asked if he knew where they came from) "They came from the right side." (December 1963 audio recording found in the National Archives as Dialogue on Dallas, Group W, as presented in President Kennedy Has Been Shot, 2003) "We saw a flash of pink-which of course was Mrs. Kennedy. We realized she was doing something. I saw the Secret Service agent in the follow-up car raise the rifle. At that point we realized these were shots." (5-2-64 and 5-19-65 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Kilduff, in the pool car directly under the gun, asked 'What was that?'" (11-13-66 AP article by Merriman Smith) “Malcolm Kilduff
of the White House press staff who was seated beside me in the front seat of
the pool car heard only three shots.” (11-22-66 AP article found in the Cedar Rapids Gazette) "Kilduff says he does disagree with the Commission's finding that the first bullet that struck Kennedy and passed through his neck was the one that wounded Texas Gov. Connally. A second shot in the head killed Kennedy. "In my mind," Kilduff said, "there were three shots fired. I have verified that with other people who were riding in the same car. I have verified it with Secret Service Agents."... Kilduff said he had talked to Connally who agrees he was hit by a separate bullet, that the governor said he heard the first shot and was turning to look back when he was hit." (11-24-66 newspaper column by Crosby S. Noyes in the Washington Star) "After the first shot he recalls that Merriman Smith of the United Press International asked, "What was that?" and that he replied, "It sounded to me like a firecracker." The second shot, according to Kilduff, came at least five seconds after the first. The third, which killed Kennedy, followed after a shorter interval." (Late 1966 interview with Lawrence Schiller recounted in The Scavengers And Critics of the Warren Report, published 1967) (on how many shots were fired) "Malcolm Kilduff heard three." (10-26-77 article by Scott Payton for the Knight-Ridder news service and found in the Michigan City News-Dispatch) "'The shots came over my right shoulder. There's absolutely no question they came from the Depository. I was riding in the right front seat--that put the depository directly over my right shoulder. My first thought was that someone had thrown a firecracker. We immediately sped off. We couldn't tell what was happening. I think the last thing in the world anybody thought of was that the President had been shot.' After the race to Parkland Hospital (during which two reporters for the AP and UPI fought furiously over the single phone in Kilduff's car) he saw what had happened. 'His head was just a mass of blood,' Kilduff says. 'It looked like hamburger meat.'" (12-22-78 AP article by Bill Bergstrom on Kilduff found in the Kentucky New Era) "The press pool car in which I was riding on Nov. 22 1963 was directly under the window of the Texas School Book Depository when the shots were fired. I have never had any question in my mind from which direction the shots came or the number of shots fired. There were three shots and they came from above my right shoulder. From my vantage point I was looking directly at the now famous 'grassy knoll.' No one on the knoll was firing a gun." (11-11-83 AP article found in the Bowling Green Daily News) "'I was the person in the motorcade closest to the School Book Depository. I was right under it in the pool car,' Kilduff recalled. Sitting by the open car window, he heard the shots clearly. 'My first thought was 'this is Thanksgiving week and they sell firecrackers in Texas' and somebody had thrown a firecracker. Then I saw that some of the Secret Service men had turned around, and a couple of them had pulled their guns," he said. 'There has never been any question in my mind that the shots came from that window,' Kilduff said. 'My reaction was to turn around and look upward over my right shoulder. If they had come from the so-called grassy knoll they would have been from off to my left.'"
(11-21-88 AP article by Steve Robrahn found in the Lewiston Daily Sun) "'Someone in the car said 'What was that?,' Kilduff recalled. 'I thought, this is the week before Thanksgiving and they sold firecrackers. I said, 'It sounded to me like a firecracker.' Another shot was fired and they realized it wasn't firecrackers.'" (4-17-91 interview with Harrison Livingstone published in High Treason 2) “I do not accept the so-called 'Magic Bullet' theory… It was a very short period of time between the second and third shot.” (11-22-91 interview with Bob Hensley for WTVQ television, found on youtube) "I was sitting in the right front seat of the pool car just as it turned by the school book depository. So I was directly under the window of the school book depository when we heard the first noise. When we heard the first noise, someone in the car, and I think it was Merriman Smith, said "what was that?" I can remember my thought process, and thinking here we are on top of Thanksgiving. And they sell fireworks. And I said "It sounded to me like a firecracker." And i go into a little detail there, Bob, because there was that much time for me to think and talk between the first and the second shot, despite what you hear now that they came in rapid succession. They did not. The first shot was fired, and I thought it was a firecracker, and then the second shot. By that time, I'd noticed that up ahead of me one of the Secret Service agents, which later turned out to be Clint Hill, had jumped off the running board of the Secret Service follow-up car, and had run toward and was climbing aboard the President's car, and jumping onto the car, which the Zapruder film shows. It shows Mrs. Kennedy reaching out to pull Clint Hill, who it turned out to be was her Secret Service agent, into the President's car. And then the third shot...By that time, I had turned around and was looking at my rear right and up...I was looking at the window, without realizing it, of the school book depository." (5-21-92 letter from William Neichter to Harold Weisberg found in the Weisberg Archives) "Mac Kilduff now lives in Kentucky. Recently he was on WHAS 840 AM with Jim Moore, Jim Marrs, and Judge Burt Griffin. It was amazing that Kilduff agrees with the Warren Commission, except that he says that he thinks 'there were three bullets, three hits.' That is a pretty big except!" (11-1-93 AP article found in the Williamson Daily News) "I was looking directly at the guy on the 'grassy knoll' and he was no more carrying a gun than I was,' Kilduff said, referring to reports that someone on a slight mound in front of the motorcade had fired. 'The shots came from my right shoulder and above me,' he said. 'What am I looking at? The window of the sixth floor of the depository, which is precisely what I've been saying for 30 years. Except that I haven't written a book.'" (4-16-93 oral history for The Sixth Floor Museum) “'I heard this first noise and Merriman Smith said, 'What the hell was that?' And I said, 'Well, it sounded to me like a firecracker.' And then, the second shot, by that time, I had noticed that Clint Hill… had jumped off the Secret Service follow-up car and was running towards the president's car. But then I looked up to where the second shot came from and I was looking, of course, at the sixth—looking up at this building. Now I cannot say I was looking at the exact location it was coming from. I knew it was coming from above and over my right shoulder. It was not coming from the grassy knoll over there (looks right). It came from above and from my rear.' (When asked if at this time two shots had been fired) 'That’s right. There was a longer space between the first and second than between the second and third shots.'” (11-23-99 article in the Dallas Morning News on an interview performed prior to Kilduff's appearance at the Sixth Floor Museum) "When the shots were fired, Mr. Kilduff said, the car he was riding in was directly under the sixth-floor window where Lee Harvey Oswald had been. 'I immediately turned and looked up,' he said. 'There is no doubt in my mind that’s where all the shots came from.' Mr. Kilduff admitted, though, that at the time of the shooting he didn’t believe the president had been wounded. Only when the president’s traveling party arrived at Parkland Memorial Hospital and Mr. Kilduff 'saw his condition' did he realize the seriousness of the situation." (11-23-99 article in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram on Kilduff's appearance at the Sixth Floor Museum) "Former White House press aide Malcolm Kilduff remembers hearing the first bullet that hit President John F. Kennedy as he rode in a motorcade down Elm Street on Nov. 22, 1963. Kilduff, who was riding two cars behind Kennedy, said he thought someone had set off a firecracker. Six seconds later, he heard another shot and turned and looked above to 'that window' on the sixth floor of the old Texas School Book Depository" Analysis: by stating that Clint Hill (who is still on the back-up car at frame 255) began running for the limousine after the first shot, and by stating that the last two shots were closer together than the first two, Kilduff was describing a first shot hit, followed by two closely-bunched shots. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Jack Bell, a reporter for the Associated Press, was in the back seat. (11-22-63 AP Bulletin, marked as 12:41 PCS) "Bell reported three shots were fired as the motorcade entered the triple underpass, which leads to the Stemmons Freeway route to Parkland Hospital." (11-22-63 news bulletin on WBAP, moments later) "Bell of the Associated Press says that three shots were fired as the motorcade entered the triple underpass which leads to the Stemmons Freeway route to Parkland Hospital." (11-22-63 news bulletin on WBAP, around 1:00) "Associated Press reporter Jack Bell says the President and Connally were shot as the motorcade entered a triple underpass that leads to the Stemmons Freeway. Bell said a man and a woman were scrambling on an upper level of a walkway that leads to the underpass." (11-22-63 news bulletin on NBC, read by Chet Huntley around 1:00) "Kennedy was taken to Parkland Hospital, near the Dallas Trade Mart where he was to have made a speech. The AP reporter said Kennedy was transferred to an ambulance. He lay on a seat of the car, blood streaming. Bell reported three shots were fired as the motorcade entered the triple underpass which leads to the Stemmons Freeway route to Parkland Hospital...Reporters saw the president lying flat on his face in the car...Mrs Kennedy was weaping and trying to hold up her husband's head when reporters reached the car." (11-23-63 AP article in the Christchurch Star. Christchurch is in New Zealand, 18 hours ahead of Dallas. This was an afternoon paper. As a consequence, this article must have been written within a few hours of the shooting.) “The assassination took place near a three-highway intersection close to the business area of the city. Within seconds of the shooting, Mr. Kennedy slumped over in the back seat of the car, face down. Mr. Connally lay on the floor of the rear seat. Three bursts of gunfire, apparently from automatic weapons, were heard. Secret service men immediately unslung their automatic weapons and pistols. Mrs. Kennedy and the Governor’s wife, who was also in the car, both crouched over the inert forms of their husbands as the car sped towards the hospital.” (11-22-63 eyewitness account written for the Associated Press, found in the 11-22-63 Spokane Spokesman-Review and the 11-23-63 New York Times) "There was a loud bang as though a giant firecracker had exploded in the caverns between the tall buildings we were just leaving behind us. In quick succession there were two other loud reports...The reports sounded like rifle shots. The man in front of me shouted 'My God, they're shooting at the president!' Our driver braked the car sharply and we swung the doors open to leap out. Suddenly the procession, which had halted, shot forward again...As my eye swept the buildings to the right, where the shots--if they really were shots, and it seemed unbelievable--might have come, I saw no significant sign of activity." (Upon arrival at Parkland) "By the time I had covered the distance to the presidential car, Secret Service Men were helping Mrs. Kennedy away. Hospital attendants were aiding Mr. and Mrs. Connally. For an instant I stopped and stared into the back seat. There, face, down, stretched out at full length, lay the President, motionless. His natty business suit seemed hardly rumpled. But there was blood on the floor." (11-22-64 AP article found in the Ada Oklahoma Evening News) "As the motorcade made a right turn off the packed street, suddenly there were only a few waving spectators. Ahead, we rode toward a left turn into a street which led to an underpass. Nearby was a building with a sign which read: 'Texas School Book Depository.' The President's auto, four cars ahead, already had made the turn toward the underpass and we had just completed it when there was a loud report. My first thought was: Those Texans, now they're shooting off giant firecrackers. Then came two more reports, paced possibly five seconds apart. They had the ominous sound of rifle crack. The President's car had stopped. We reporters riding 'pool' scrambled to get out to run ahead. But at almost that instant, a Secret Service man, riding in the front seat of the presidential limousine stood up, phone in hand, and waved the preceding police cruiser on. In that numb moment we all sensed that something horrible might have happened." (4-19-66 Oral History interview performed for the Kennedy Library) "We turned a corner, and there was the Texas Book Depository. Then we turned another corner heading toward an underpass. I thought somebody had set off a cherry bomb. I thought to myself, 'My God, these Texans don't ever know when to quit. They've given the man everything they could. Here they are shooting off firecrackers and cherry bombs.' About three seconds later there was another report, and then there was a third one. By that time everybody thought this was a rifle shooting. So we started to jump out of the car...We started to get out. There was an assistant White House press secretary in there, too. He yelled out as we were just getting out, 'My God, they’re shooting at the President!' We all thought this was probably true, but we didn’t know.There was no way of finding out at this point what was happening because Kennedy’s car was four cars ahead, and we couldn’t see it clearly. And then the motorcade began to move, so we all jumped back in the car. It moved very fast." (11-23-66 AP article found in the Oil City Pennsylvania Derrick) "Three years ago in a sunny midday in Dallas I heard from the fourth car in a motorcade the sound of three rifle shots that killed a president and wounded a governor. There was the sound of three cadenced shots—no more, no fewer. As our car bearing four newsmen, a presidential press aide and a driver turned left in front of the Texas School Book Depository, the first of these rang out. The sound came from above and to our right. It echoed down the canyon-like block of moderately tall buildings behind us. I remember thinking that some over-enthusiastic Dallasite must have exploded a cherry bomb. Then there was a second crack, unmistakably that of a rifle. It was followed in about five seconds by a third. Then there was a moment of awful silence, broken by shrill cries and screams. People scurried toward whatever protection they could find. As we scrambled back into our car, the motorcade, which had halted, was moving again. Up ahead I saw a man, looking fearfully back over his shoulder and the book depository building, push a woman down on the grassy knoll that led to an overpass and throw his body protectively over hers. The sounds of the three shots had come from above and to the right of us. To one who had been familiar with shooting ranges they sounded like the cadenced quick fire of an experienced rifleman squeezing off a shot, re-loading by bolt action, firing again and a third time..." Analysis: if the Christchurch article was written by Bell, his statement that the shots were apparently from automatic weapons is consistent with his early account of the shots being in quick succession, and sounding like firecrackers, and destroys the credibility of his later assertion that the three shots were "cadenced." Even if he didn't write that, however, his story is still at odds with the LPM scenario. For, even in his later writings, his assertion that the car in which he was riding had made its turn onto Elm when the first shot rang out places this shot well after frame 160. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Robert Baskin, a reporter for
the Dallas Morning News, was also in the back seat. (11-23-63
article in the Dallas Morning News, written under Baskin's byline by Bill Rives) "As the presidential motorcade approached the triple underpass, at the height of the paved hill at Elm and Houston, I was in the 'pool' car three cars back of the President. The President's car had just passed the Texas State Book Depository building when we heard a shot, off to the right. It seemed to come from rather high up. Then we heard two more shots, carefully measured, as though a calm, determined sharp shooter were at work. The Presidential caravan ground to a halt, and suddenly there was a great deal of activity around the President's car. But the impact of the awful act didn't register until we saw people falling down on the streets and frantically trying to find cover. Then we realized it was actual gunfire we had heard." (11-23-63
article in the Dallas Morning News, apparently a re-write by Baskin of Rives' version of his account) "Then came the approach to the
triple underpass, with the leading cars picking up speed as the crowd
thinned out. Over to our right loomed the gaunt structure
labeled the Texas School Book Depository. It was 12:30 p.m. The sharp
crack of a rifle rang out. But at that moment we couldn't believe it
was just that. "What the hell was that?" someone in our car asked. Then there were two more shots, measured carefully. We
saw people along the street diving for the ground. Several persons
shielded children. Then we knew that the presidential party was under
fire. The motorcade
ground to a halt. There was a good bit of activity around the President’s car, with Secret Service men running about. Before we could get out of our car, however,
police sirens began wailing loudly. The President’s car started up and
quickly was going at breakneck speed." (March-May 1964 account of Bill Rives, the assistant managing editor of the Dallas Morning News on 11-22-63, as published on the Dallas Morning News' website, DallasNews.com) "Earlier, I had talked to Bob Baskin, Washington bureau chief who had been in the press pool car near the President's. We talked on one of our car radios, which had been taken to the Parkland scene by a photographer. Baskin dictated some notes to one of our staffers via this 2-way radio set-up. I took the notes and began writing a first-person story, under Baskin's byline, for the first edition...No reporter had been closer to the assassination than he, and he saw the dead President's body before it was removed at the hospital from car in which Mr. Kennedy rode. He saw the wounded Governor Connally, the stricken wives, the shaken members of the President's staff, and the ashen-faced couple who would become the First Family: Vice-President and Mrs. Johnson. The impact of all this was too much for even a seasoned reporter like Baskin. When he came into the office at my request, he was white-faced and trembling. Someone gave him a drink of whiskey, hoping it would quiet his racing nerves. We got him a cup of coffee, too, and his hand shook so much that he splashed coffee into the saucer as he raised the cup to his mouth. At that time, I had begun writing his first-person account, under his byline. I told him what I was doing and I said "Bob, ordinarily, I'd ask you to go ahead and write this story yourself. But I suggest I finish it for the first edition and you can write your own sub for it later." He readily agreed, admitting that he was in no shape to write anything at that time." (5-15-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Bob Baskin, in his seat behind Kilduff, knew what it was; he was an infantry veteran of the 85th Division, and he looked around wildly for cover." (7-23-64 account written for the Dallas Morning News published in the 2013 book JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes)
"We turned off Main Street and onto Houston for the last leg of the
motorcade route to the Trade Mart at almost 12:30. We saw the
President's car make the turn onto Elm in front of the Texas School
Book Depository, gaining a bit of speed. The press car was halfway down
the block before the left turn when the first shots rang out. "What the
hell was that?" one
of us asked. The motorcade kept moving and we had just turned the
corner for the approach to the triple underpass some four seconds later
when a second and then a third shot were heard. We came to a halt. Ahead
we could see considerable movement around the President's car but
couldn't make out what it was all about." (3-16-74 interview
with the Johnson Library) "We heard the first shot ring out and...I
instinctively thought it was a rifle shot. Then the other shots
followed and I was convinced it was rifle fire. But then this
commotion started around the President's car and people were falling to
the ground over there. And our press car came to a halt and we were
throwing open the back doors to get out, and all of a sudden the thing
began to move, and we moved down fast to Parkland." Analysis: while Baskin's "measured carefully" might lead some to put him in the
LPM category, he also said the limo was past the book depository when the first shot rang out. He confuses things further by stating that the press car was only halfway down the block before the turn when the first "shots" rang out. This suggests a first shot seconds before frame 160. He then wrote that they'd made the turn onto Elm "some four seconds later". Well, this suggests they were far more than halfway to Elm when the first shot rang out. As Baskin grouped the last two shots together,
moreover, and didn't notice a commotion until after the last two shots were
fired, it's highly doubtful he heard the last two shots five seconds apart,
as in the LPM scenario. Probable first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots possibly bunched together.
Bob Clark, a reporter for ABC News, was in the back seat as well. (Phoned-in report on ABC, 11-22-63) “Three shots were fired at the President’s motorcade as it passed out of the downtown area of Dallas...The shots rang out as the motorcade had entered an open area just beyond the main downtown business district. It was impossible to determine where the shots had come from.” (Phoned-in recap, broadcast around 2:10 PM, 11-22-63) "We had just rounded the corner at the fringe of the business district when three shots suddenly rang out. They sounded at this stage like an automobile backfiring. They were extremely loud...We heard the shots very clearly but it was almost inconceivable at this stage that this was an assassination. Then three or four seconds elapsed before the car that the president was traveling in--this car came to an immediate stop. The Secret Service follow-up car--some of the agents piled out then almost immediately leaped back in." (6-3-96 interview on C-Span) "When Oswald fired the shots, I was in the pool car, about the sixth car back from the President, about maybe 250 or 300 feet behind the President. But our car was just making the turn underneath the window where Oswald was firing. So in our car the sounds of the shots were very loud and very clear, and what was to become more significant historically, equally loud and clear. So we all felt after the first one, the first was just a loud noise--it might have been a firecracker or something. But with the next two shots we all knew they were shots and we all knew they came from very close to us, up above and again almost directly overhead." (3-4-03 Interview conducted for President Kennedy Has Been Shot, 2003) “When (Merriman Smith) said those were gunshots, I think we all in the car just accepted they were gunshots. They were loud and clear and more significant—for the historical record—they were equally loud and equally clear and were clearly fired from almost over our head.” (11-20-03 article on Gwhatchet.com reporting on a meeting of the National Press Club) "'Right as we turned in front of the Texas School Book Depository I heard three extremely loud and clear shots,' said Clark, referring to the building from which suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald reportedly fired three shots. Clark told the audience of 100 that he and other journalists were unaware of exactly what happened because they could not see the presidential limousine." (Chapter by Clark in November 22, 1963, by Dean Owen, published 2013) "I was directly under the window where Oswald was shooting from when the shots rang out. The shots were loud and clear, though we had no idea Kennedy had bee hit. Merriman Smith of UPI, who was the senior wire service reporter, was in the car. He was a gun fancier and said "Those are shots." Analysis: it’s interesting that Clark says all the shots sounded the same but that the only reason he knew they were shots was because Smith, who’d said the first shot sounded different than the others, told him so. It's also interesting that he says that they were turning as they heard the shots. As people claiming they heard something at a given time are most commonly implying that they heard the beginning of a sound or series of sounds at that time, and not the end of a sound or series of sounds at that time, this suggests the first shot heard by Clark was fired long after frame 160, when he was still three cars from the corner. First shot hit 190-224.
John Hoefen, an NBC sound technician, sat in the middle of the front seat of the following car, the first of three Chevrolet convertibles reserved for the Press. (11-22-63 phoned-in report broadcast on NBC radio--WBAP in Dallas--at approximately 1:50) "We were just leaving the business district of Dallas when this shooting took place...We were making a sweeping curve here on a roadway approaching a freeway when the first shot rang out. Our first reaction was that some teenager had fired a cherry-bomb. When the second one rang out, we sort of felt that there was something wrong up there. People started to drop down to the ground ahead of us, roughly 50 to 60 feet up near the President's car. Then there was a third and if I remember correctly a fourth shot. Immediately, after that last shot the President's car took off in a tremendous burst of speed followed by the Secret Service follow-up car..." (11-22-63 phoned-in report broadcast on NBC television, at approximately 2:00 PM) “We were approaching a drive which would put us on a freeway, where we would then drive to the Trade Mart...As we turned down this moderate curve here there was a loud shot. At first we thought it was a cherry bomb by some teenager. Then it was immediately followed by two or three more. Everybody said "duck" then there were people falling to the ground. We did not know who was shot. Ladies and men both were screaming..." (Hoefen's report as summarized by NBC in its 1966 book 70 hours and 30 Minutes) "Hoefen reports that he was in the motorcade with the Presidential party…A loud shot rang out; people ducked; men and women were screaming.” Analysis: Even if one assumes Hoefen was wrong when he indicated there could have been four shots, his account is still at odds with the LPM scenario, as he reported that the first shot rang out as the car in which he was riding began its turn onto Elm. The subsequent concealment by NBC of Hoefen's suggestion there were more than three shots is also intriguing. This book, we should remember, also misrepresented the words of Dallas DA Henry Wade and over-stated the case against Oswald. First shot 190-224. Heard four shots?
Dave Wiegman, an NBC cameraman, sat on the right side of the front seat, next to Hoefen. (Pictures of the Pain, p.371-372, Trask interview 3-18-89) “We were in a straight away heading down to what I now know as the Book Depository, and I heard the first report and I thought like everybody else that it was a good sized firecracker—a cherry bomb. Then when I heard the second one, the adrenaline really started pumping because there was a reaction in the motorcade. I was sitting on the edge of the (car door) frame, which I sometimes did. I keenly remember right after the incident that my feet were on the ground during one of the reports. I don’t think I was fast enough to react to the second, but I think on the third one I was running. The car had slowed down enough for me to jump out…I jumped and I remember running and I heard the third shot … I’d done this before in other motorcades because a lot of times the President will stop and do something …The motorcade has stopped, plus you heard a report. I don’t think I thought on the first or second, but when the third one went off, I really thought I felt the compression on my face.” (Interview on the Discovery Channel program Unsolved History, 2004) “I felt the third shot, actually the compression on my face, knew then it was not any cherry bomb. I decided that I’ve gotta run forward. This car’s not going fast enough, so I swung my other leg out and ran very quickly—fast—and I turned on the camera figuring that the camera could see at least what I’m seeing.” Analysis: Wiegman’s statements are inconsistent. Did he start running on the ground before or after the third shot? As he began filming after noticing a reaction in the motorcade, and as the unedited film, according to Dale Myers, begins around Zapruder frame 245, and as Wiegman implies he’d heard two shots by this point, then perhaps he heard a missed shot at frame 160, or more than one shot between frames 190 and 224. In either scenario, he heard a shot heard by very few others. As the earliest interviews with Wiegman didn’t take place for many years after the shooting, perhaps we should instead suspect his story was influenced by those who believed the first shot missed. Perhaps he really began filming after hearing only one shot, but after witnessing a reaction in the motorcade. He then heard shots two and three while preparing to get out of the car. As his film reveals that he was on the car or getting off of the car until a point in time 8 seconds or more after its inception (and more than 3 seconds after the head shot), his 1989 statement that he was running when he heard the third shot is almost certainly inaccurate. If even close to being true, however, it would indicate he heard a shot after the head shot. Possible LPM scenario. Heard two early shots. Possible shot after the head shot.
Thomas Craven, a cameraman for CBS News, sat on the left side of the back seat. (Pictures of the Pain p.371, Trask interview 5-23-85) “It was just as we were making the turn. We thought it was a motorcycle backfiring”…Craven believes he heard three shots, but adds,” To tell the truth, I wouldn’t be really positive. I could have sworn they were backfires.” Analysis: as Craven’s statement that they were just making the turn could not refer to a first shot at frame 160, as Camera car #1 was mid-block at that point, it seems likely he meant the car was on approach to Houston and Elm, where it was circa frame 190was referring to a shot's being fired at a their approach to Houston and Elm. Additionally, as his car-mate Wiegman began filming as they were about to hit the intersection, Craven’s statement can be taken as an indication that Wiegman began filming after the first shot, or after a second shot between frames 190 and 224. Probable first shot 190-224.
Cleve Ryan, an electrician assigned to the press pool, sat in the middle of the back seat. No comments by Ryan on the shooting have been located.
Thomas Atkins, a cameraman working for the White House, sat on the right side of the rear seat. (As quoted in the tabloid Midnight, 3-1-77) “The car I was in had just made the little right turn. I was facing the Texas School Book Depository and Kennedy's car had just made the left turn heading toward the freeway entrance. Although I did not look up at the building, I could hear everything quite clearly. The shots came from below and off to the right side from where I was. I never thought the shots came from above. They did not sound like shots coming from anything higher than street level. They all sounded similar to me and did not seem to be coming from different points around the plaza. At first I thought it was a firecracker going off and I thought that whoever threw that thing at the motorcade is going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble with the Secret Service. Then when I heard the second shot, I realized it was gunfire. The third shot came very quickly after that, in less than two seconds, I'm sure. In thinking about it later, I got the distinct impression that it was almost like a little kid playing cowboys and Indians, the sounds came so close together. That is, between the second and third shots. It was bang...bang, bang. Like kids playing. That's exactly how I remember it.” (Pictures of the Pain p.371, Trask interview 3-19-86) “we came to the end (of Main Street) and made the right hand turn, and were going directly at the Depository. Just as we turned, I remember looking at my watch…as I looked at my watch I heard an explosion. The thought that ran through my mind, “Oh brother—somebody lit a cherry bomb”… And then immediately following there were two more quick explosions, and my stomach just went into a knot. The explosions were very loud, like they were right in front of me… (On describing the three shots) You know when kids play cowboys and Indians and they go Bam—Bam Bam! The last two clustered together.” Analysis: although Atkins’ statement that they had just made the turn might be taken as evidence for a shot earlier than Z-190, his more concrete observation that the last two shots were closely bunched together is a by-now familiar indication of the by now-dominant scenario. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
While the film of the motorcade made by Robert Hughes was misrepresented by the HSCA to establish that Officer H.B. McLain was in position to record the sounds heard on a dictabelt recording, and has been used by single-assassin theorists and honest conspiracy theorists to debunk those findings ever since, few have used the film in conjunction with eyewitness testimony in an attempt to isolate the moment of the first shot. When one looks at the moment of the film widely interpreted to correspond to Zapruder frame 160, the moment of the first shot miss in the LPM scenario, one can see that the yellow Chevy containing Dave Wiegman has safely made the turn onto Houston Street and is approaching mid-block. Behind this car is Camera car #2. Once again, thanks to Richard Trask and his work in Pictures of the Pain, the memories of some of the passengers of this car have been recorded.
Clint Grant, a Dallas Morning News photographer, sat in the middle of the front seat. (March-May 1964 memo written for the Dallas Morning News, in which Grant's recollections of 11-22-63 were recorded for posterity, as published in JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes, 2013) "Our first thought was that an over-jubilant spectator was throwing large firecrackers or torpedoes into the crowds in front of the depository, because of the way they scattered. Our convertible was just two cars ahead of the local press bus but we could not see around the corner at Dealey Plaza. The motorcade halted briefly. It started up again but our driver hesitated then moved ahead cautiously. We kept hollering at him to "Go ahead! Go ahead!" To this day I don't know who this driver was but he was the most persistently cautious man in Texas. Upon finally arriving at the scene, or rather as we were rounding the corner, the President's car was just speeding out of sight under the railroad trestle." (Pictures of the Pain p.398, letter Grant to Trask 12-1-85) “we had just turned onto Houston Street when we heard one shot—pause—two shots in rapid succession. I thought it was someone playing a prank—maybe a kid’s cherry bomb.” (11-21-93 Reporters Remember journalism conference, as quoted in Reporting the Kennedy Assassination, and shown on C-Span) “As we turned the corner at Main and Houston, I heard three shots ring out. As we turned into Elm off Houston, at the Houston (sic) book depository, we saw the president's limo take off at high speed with Secret Servicemen scrambling to get aboard.” Analysis: by saying the first shot rang out when they had just turned onto Houston, Grant’s words could be LPM compatible. But by saying that the last two shots were in rapid succession, he’s telling us all we need to know. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Frank Cancellare, a UPI photographer, sat on the right side of the front seat. (Pictures of the Pain p.398, Letter Cancellare to Trask, (3) 1985) “I did not know what happened. I knew something had been attempted and the police and secret service were doing all they could. Police ran their bikes up the bank towards the railroad overpass. I thought they were chasing the culprit.” Analysis: too vague.
Cecil Stoughton, a photographer working for the White House, sat on the left side of the back seat. (3-1-71 interview with the Johnson Library)"We hadn't gotten to the corner yet. When we did get to the corner from Main turning onto Elm (sic, he means Houston), the President's car must have just rounded the corner, and by the time we were halfway up that one block street, we heard these shots, which were obvious shots to my compatriots and I, sitting on the back of the convertible, wide open. We all looked around, and I made a remark to the extent: 'These Texans really know how to give you a salute. They're probably firing off their .45's or firecrackers or something like that.' It's just some kind of a noisy thing. But they were so definitely shots that it just worried me for a little bit." (7-10-85 interview with Richard Trask, as presented in The Day Kennedy Was Shot, an article by Trask in the November 1988 issue of American Heritage) "Just after Stoughton’s car had turned right at the old County Court House onto Commerce Street, he heard three very distinct, loud reports. 'I said, ‘Hey, Art [Art Rickerby, Life staff photographer], these Texans really know how to welcome a guy, don’t they?’ In my mind I saw a guy on the roof in a ten-gallon hat with a sixshooter—bang bang! bang bang! That’s what I thought. Then we rounded the corner and saw a lot of hectic police activity.' The car made a sharp left onto Elm Street past the redbrick Texas School Book Depository Building. 'We realized something was amiss,' says Stoughton, 'as the cars ahead of us were gone. When we rolled to a stop just around the corner, [Frank] Cancellare [United Press International photographer] leaped out of the car and ran to take a picture of a family cowering on the grass. A White House photographer, Tom Atkins, was already there, shooting his 16mm Arriflex, and instead of doing likewise, I slipped my 150-mm lens on the Hasselblad and shot one frame...'" (5-31-98 article in the Victoria Advocate) "Just a few cars behind Kennedy in the motorcade, the Air Force captain wasn't quite certain what had caused Kennedy's car to race away. 'We had to ask someone on the side of the street what had happened,' Stoughton said." Analysis: Stoughton's statement that he was halfway up that one block street--Houston--when he heard the first shot suggests he was further up the street than he was at Z-160. At Z-160, the blue Impala in which he was riding had just straightened out from the turn. Probable first hit Z-190-224.
Arthur Rickerby, a Life Magazine photographer, sat in the middle of the back seat. (Danbury News Times, 11-23-63, as quoted in Pictures of the Pain p. 398) “We heard what sounded like a giant firecracker go off. With that we saw people diving to the ground, covering up their children, or scurrying up the banks.” (Letter, Mrs. Wanda Rickerby to Trask, 3-20-85) “He often stated his disagreement with the number of shots that were reported in the press.” Analysis: if he saw people dive to the ground after the first shot, then he didn’t hear all the shots. Perhaps, then, his disagreement with the press was that he only heard two shots, one after the head shot, when people dived to the ground. Or maybe he thought he heard four shots. Too vague.
Henry Burroughs, an AP photographer, sat on the right side of the back seat. (Pictures of the Pain p.398, based on Trask interview 8-21-85) "Burroughs remembers hearing four shots…'We came up to the scene of the shooting and people were running all over the place.'” (10-14-98 letter to Vince Palamara quoted in JFK: The Medical Evidence Reference) “After the President’s limousine turned the corner at the book depository we could not see him, but we heard the shots, and the motorcade stopped.” Analysis: with his recollection of four shots, Burroughs’ account is definitely LPM incompatible. Still it’s hard to determine when he heard the first shot. Heard four shots.
Mo Mo Motorcade
When one looks at the frame in the Hughes film used by single-assassin theorists the world over to discredit the dictabelt evidence, one should notice that they are at the same time discrediting their beloved LPM scenario. In the LPM scenario, let’s remember, there is a first shot miss around Zapruder frame 160. Since the Hughes frame they love corresponds to frame 160, the people in the film should be where the LPM scenario needs them to be when the first shot rang out. But they are not, not by a long shot. (Pardon the pun).
James Underwood, a cameraman for KRLD, sat in the front seat of camera car #3, which has just rounded the corner onto Houston Street at frame 160 of the Zapruder film. (11-22-63 CBS news report, broadcast about 30 minutes after the assassination) “As we made the turn here at the intersection of Elm and Houston I heard first a loud report. It sounded to me like a giant firecracker. Then in quick succession two more. Immediately in front of me, I saw people begin to fall on the grass and run for bushes in a park area here.” (11-25-63 FBI report, CD5 p. 17) “Mr. Underwood states the car in which he was riding was approaching the corner of Houston and Elm Streets…when he heard a loud noise sounding similar to a gunshot. He states that upon hearing the second noise he realized it was a gunshot and that at the sound of the next shot the car in which he was riding was almost directly in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building. (4-1-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H 167-171) “After we turned onto Houston Street, the car I was in was about, as far as I can remember, about in the middle of the block or a little bit north of the center of the block, which is a short block, when I heard the first shot…I thought it was an explosion. I have heard many rifles fired but it did not sound like a rifle to me. Evidently it must have been the reverberations of the buildings or something. I believe I said to one of the other fellows it sounded like a giant firecracker and the car I was in was about the intersection of Elm and Houston when I heard a second shot fired and moments later a third shot fired and I realized they were by that time, the last two shots, I realized they were coming from overhead …By the time the third shot was fired, the car I was in stopped almost through the intersection in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building and I leaped out of the car before the car stopped…our car was in the intersection, in the intersection of Elm and Houston Street…It had partially made the turn or had just begun to make the turn.” Analysis: as he testified the car was significantly past the turn onto Houston at the time of the first shot, and the last shots were bunched, Underwood’s words are at odds with the LPM theory. They also suggest the last shot was after the head shot. As the car containing Dave Wiegman was at least 45 feet in front of the car containing Underwood, and Wiegman’s car was not quite in front of the building at Z-270, camera car #3 would have had to have averaged well over 13 miles an hour to get anywhere near the intersection by frame 313. And we know this didn’t happen because the motorcade was traveling at only 12 miles per hour, and had slowed down greatly for the turn onto Elm. For verification of this, there’s the Dorman film, which has multiple stops and starts and yet shows camera car #3 approaching Elm roughly 10 seconds after a frame closely corresponding to Z-133. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
Tom Dillard, a Dallas Morning News photographer, sat in the right front seat of camera car #3. He took photographs of the school book depository after the shots. (11-25-63 FBI report, CD5, p.16) “Mr. Dillard stated the car in which he was riding had not approached the corner of Houston and Elm Streets when he heard a noise sounding like a “torpedo” (a large firecracker). He states upon hearing another sound similar to the first he realized it was gunfire. He states that upon hearing the third shot the car in which he was riding was stopped almost in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building.” (4-1-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H162-167) (When asked if he heard an explosion as they were driving north on Houston) “Yes, sir, I heard an explosion…I believe I said “My God, they’ve thrown a torpedo”…about 3 or 4 seconds, another explosion and my comment was “No, it’s heavy rifle fire”…I heard three, the three approximately equally spaced.” (When asked exactly where they were on Houston when they heard the first shots) “just a few feet around the corner and it seems we had slowed a great deal. It seems that our car had slowed down so that we were moving rather slowly and perhaps just passed the turn when I heard the first explosion." (March-May 1964 memo written for the Dallas Morning News, published by the paper on 11-20-2000, and then again in the 2013 book JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes.) "The parade continued through downtown. My car had just turned north on Houston Street and was at the County Jail entrance when the first shot was fired. I said, 'They've thrown a torpedo.' At the second shot, 'No, it's heavy rifle fire' and at the third shot I said, 'They've killed him.' The President's car had turned west on Elm before the shooting started, so we were unable to see what had happened around the corner. Bob Jackson, a photographer in my car, said, There's the rifle in that open window. In the three or four seconds it took me to locate the particular open window and make a picture, the rifle had been withdrawn. I made two shots of the building before we turned the corner to Elm. When we turned the corner, there were people lying and crouched on the ground and others running up the grass slope. I jumped out of my car and made two pix of the area which by then was clear of people."(Report of an HSCA investigator's 2-8-78 interview of Dillard, found online) "The President's car turned left on Elm off of Houston and Dillard's car was about at the County Jail House. When Dillard heard the first shot, he said, "my God, they're throwing torpedos (firecrackers) at him!" When the second shot went off, Dillard knew it was a high velocity rifle. Dillard stated that they were just about to the corner of Houston and Elm when the third shot went off. Bob Jackson said, "there he is in the sixth floor window!" Dillard pointed his camera up and took a picture. Dillard jumped out of his car ran down Elm to take photos but could only get the rear of the vehicles as they sped off. Dillard then jumped back on his car and he did not know for sure that anyone had been hit...Mr. Dillard stated that there was no doubt that he heard three shots and all three shots came from the TSBD. He stated that as they got to the corner of Houston and Elm, he could smell gun powder very clearly." (7-19-93 oral history for the Sixth Floor Museum) “We were on Houston...sitting, chatting...and this gun went off. It was loud, and I said, "They're throwing torpedoes at him." In my mind, it was those things we threw as kids that hit the sidewalk and exploded. Then, in a matter of a second and a half, another shot. I said, "No, that's rifle fire." [After] the third shot, I said, "My God, they've killed him." (11-21-93 Reporters Remember journalism conference, as broadcast on C-Span) "Then we arrived up on Houston Street, and the shots broke out. One shot. Two shots. Then Three shots. I immediately recognized them as rifle shots. Bob Jackson said he saw a rifle in the window on the upper floor. By the time I located it and got a wide-angle shot and a telephoto shot, the rifle had already gone." Analysis: by saying they had perhaps just made the turn onto Houston when the first shot rang out, and that the shots were approximately equally spaced, Dillard’s testimony is vague but consistent with the LPM scenario. His statement that the car was stopped almost in front of the school book depository building when the last shot was fired, however, is suggestive there was a shot fired after the head shot. His assertion that the car had slowed down for its entire journey up Houston only adds to this possibility. Possible LPM scenario. Last shot possibly after the head shot.
Jimmy Darnell, a cameraman for WBAP, sat on the back seat behind the driver. (12-2-63 FBI report, CD7 p.29) “stated he heard the first shot and thought it was a backfire from an automobile. The second shot he thought was a firecracker. He stated, however, after the second shot he realized from the confusion that something had happened and he jumped out of the car and ran towards the President’s car...He said he noticed parents were throwing children to the ground and covering them with their bodies.” Analysis: since he only mentions two shots, it’s difficult to pigeon-hole Darnell’s statements with absolute confidence. Still, as everyone else in the car made note of Robert Jackson pointing to the sniper’s nest after the third shot, it’s clear Darnell missed the third shot, probably while he was jumping from the automobile. As most of the witnesses in the Wiegman film seem oblivious when Wiegman begins filming at 270, the confusion mentioned by Darnell is most certainly the panic after the head shot. Only mentioned two shots. Probable first shot hit 190-224. Second shot probably the head shot.
Malcolm Couch, a cameraman for WFAA, was
sitting in the middle of the back seat of camera car #3. He filmed the
aftermath of the shots as the car crossed the Plaza. (11-22-63
eyewitness report on WFAA at approximately 1:45 PM) “Just as the President’s car turned the corner, I
heard a loud shot that sounded like at first a backfire. And then I heard another one. And then finally a third shot. We naturally took this third shot as a rifle
shot because we figured by the third shot that this was not a backfire, that it was not a motorcycle backfiring, but it was actually someone taking a crack at the President. Just as our car rounded the corner we saw the President’s car speed
off. I had my camera in my hand and raised it to see an officer fall and pull his pistol. I took a shot of that, and then to my right, two ladies fell to the ground and one of them had fainted. People were running here and there, hither and yarn. Up in a window, I saw--I could not tell what the person looked like, but I saw the rifle being pulled back into the window. This was the fifth or sixth floor. There were people underneath the rifle who looked up to see where the shots had come from. One man started running down the street with his little boy, his little child. And police started running after him thinking he was the man that had fired the shots. There was much confusion around there. I noticed on the sidewalk, Walt, some blood. At this time, I do not know whose blood it was. But there was some blood on the sidewalk. Away from the street. It must not have been the President's blood.” (11-22-63 eyewitness report on WFAA, at approximately 3:00 PM) "I was in the 8th car in the motorcade. There were 5 other newsmen, myself, in the car. We'd just rounded a corner and the President's car was heading out of downtown proper. We were at right angles to the President's car, about approximately 50-75 feet away. I heard this shot, or what had sounded like at the moment to be a motorcycle backfiring, and I heard another one, and by the third shot, it sounded by then, the men in the car realized it was not a motorcycle, but it was someone firing. Our car rounded the corner just as the President's car sped off down underneath an underpass and out onto what is known as Stemmon's Expressway. I looked to the left of me as a policeman fell, pulled a pistol. To the right of me two citizens dropped to the ground, and I had chance to take a quick shot of the window from which the assassin had fired his weapon." (11-27-63 FBI
report, CD5 p.18) “He said they…were traveling the presidential route on Houston
Street when he heard two loud noises about ten
seconds apart which sounded like a motorcycle backfire. He said as they turned the corner onto Elm
from Houston, he heard another
noise, and Robert Jackson yelled to look up at the window." (4-1-64 testimony before the
Warren Commission, 6H153-162) “we turned north onto Houston, and it was there
that we heard the first gunshot…It sounded like a motorcycle backfire at
first—the first time we heard it—the first shot.” (When asked where on Houston
they heard this) “I would say, uh, 15 or 20 feet from the turn—from off of Main
onto Houston…We had already completed the turn…I was looking back to a fellow
on my—that would be on my right—I don’t know who it was—we were joking. We had just made the turn. And I heard the first shot…there was no
particular reaction…And—uh—then—in a few seconds, I guess from 4-5 seconds
later or even less, we heard the second shot…we began to look in front of us…By
the third shot, I felt that it was a rifle…as I said the shots or the noises
were fairly close together, they were fairly even in sound. (When asked where
they were when they heard the third shot) I’d say we were about 50 feet from
making—or maybe 60 feet—from making the left hand turn onto Elm.” (11-22-64 WFAA program A Year Ago Today) "As we turned the fateful corner, our senses were numb and our hearts seemed to stop beating as we heard the shots ring out. The photographer from Dallas, who slammed his elbow into my right side, yelled 'Look up in the window, there's the rifle.' And straight in front of us we could see the Texas School Book Depository Building and almost to the top floor there was the gleaming gun barrel sticking out of a window. The next few seconds were frantic. People were running. People were screaming. People falling to the ground." (Article found in the Clifton Record entitled JFK Shooting Recalled: Local Resident, Former TV Reporter Remembers Kennedy Assassination. Couch's Memories Remain Clear 37 Years Later, 11-22-00) "We had reached the end of the narrow corridor where most of the crowd had gathered, and had just made a turn to the right to go down Houston Street. As cameramen, we could relax for a few minutes. Just 100 yards ahead, the president's car took a westerly turn down Elm Street to go beneath an underpass. Beyond the underpass was clear highway to the Trade Mart, where the presidential party would have lunch. Putting down my camera, I remarked, 'Boy, what a beautiful day for a parade!. Everything is going perfect, too.' Hardly had I finished when we heard a sharp CRACK. It sounded like a motorcycle backfiring, or a firecracker. Then a second or so later, another CRACK. People began to run and scream. The reporter next to me jabbed me in the ribs. 'Look,' he yelled, 'Up in the window...a rifle!' He was pointing straight in front of us to the Texas School Book Depository Building. There on the fifth or sixth story, I saw about a foot of a rifle being drawn back into a window. Then our car turned sharply down Elm Street. I began taking pictures of people running, falling to the ground, and screaming." (11-22-03 article in the
Dallas Morning News) “Jackson had
taken his last picture and handed his film to Jim Featherston, a reporter
waiting to receive it at the corner of Main and Houston.
When the heavyset reporter fumbled it and began to chase after it, the men in
the car found themselves laughing. And then
came the first shot. Couch remembers
someone shouting: 'Look at the
window—there’s the rifle!' By the time the third shot rang out, Couch had
spotted about eight inches of the rifle protruding from the sixth-floor
window.” (Oral History interview performed for the Sixth Floor Museum, 4-2-07) "As we were starting the turn, facing the building, we heard a ka-pow. At first, well it could be motorcycle backfire, because all these cops were around us on motorcycles. And then another second or so, ka-pow. And whoever was sitting by me--and I really want to get this straight--hollered "Look up at the window; there's a rifle!" And we were facing the building at that point. And I looked up for about a split second and saw about a foot of the rifle going back in the window. It wasn't sticking out of the window, but it was visible in the window. It was just almost like that. And then another ka-pow. Pardon me, another couple of ka-pows. By then, by the time of the second ka-pow, going to the third and fourth, we really started to realize something was wrong. And that's when I looked up and saw the rifle go in the window." Analysis: as the car in which Couch was riding had just turned onto Houston
at frame 160, and as Couch said they were 15-20 feet up Houston
when he heard the first shot, his words could be interpreted as supportive of the LPM
scenario. His WFAA report that his car was only 50-75 feet from the limo at the time of the shots, suggests his car was further up the street, however. The FBI's report is also problematic, in that it suggests Couch initially believed he was
turning onto Elm when the last shot rang out. Which would suggest he'd heard a
shot after frame 313. His supposedly clear recollections to his local paper in 2000 are, of course, also problematic, as they suggest the last two shots were fired within a "second or so" of each other. Possible LPM scenario. Possible first shot 190. Last
shot possibly after the head shot.
Robert Jackson, a Dallas Times Herald photographer,
was sitting on the right rear seat of the car. (11-23-63 AP
article) “When we heard the first shot, the president had already turned the
corner. We had not made the corner
yet. Then we heard two more shots.” (11-23-63 AP article found in the L.A. Times) "Bob Jackson, a photographer for the Dallas Times Herald, heard one shot, then two rapid bursts as he rode in an open convertible in the presidential motorcade." (11-23-63
FBI report, CD5 p.15) “he advised the car in which he was riding was proceeding
north on Houston Street…and the presidential car had already turned left on Elm
Street…when he heard three loud reports which sounded like shots from a
gun. He stated that there was a “pause”
after the first shot, followed by the second and third shots in rapid
succession. Jackson advised that
upon hearing the three shots, he looked upward and straight ahead at a window
in the Texas School Book Depository…in time to see the barrel of a rifle being
pulled inside the window.” (3-10-64 testimony before
the Warren Commission, 2H155-165) “I was in the process of unloading a camera
and I was to toss it out of the car as we turned right onto Houston Street to
one of our reporters…And that I did as we turned the corner…as I threw it out
the wind blew it, caught it and blew it out into the street and our reporter
chased it out into the street, and the photographers in our car, one of the
photographers, was a TV cameraman whom I do not recall as his name , and he was
joking about the film being thrown out and he was shooting my picture of
throwing the film out… Well as our reporter chased that film out in the street,
we all looked back at him and were laughing, and it was approximately that time
that we heard the first shot, and we had already rounded the corner, of course,
when we heard the first shot. We were
approximately half a block on Houston Street…as
we heard the first shot, I believe it was Tom Dillard from Dallas News who made
some remark as to that sounding like a firecracker, and it could have been
somebody else who said that. But someone
else did speak up and make that comment and before he actually finished the
sentence we heard the other two shots…We were still moving slowly, and after the third shot the second two
shots seemed much closer together than the first shot, than they
were to the first shot.” (Oral history interview for
the Sixth Floor Museum, 11-22-93) “And we had already made the turn as this was
taking place and we heard the first shot...which put our car directly facing the Book Depository… We heard the first shot. Tom Dillard and I looked at each other. I
think both of us, you know, the first thing we thought was it could be a
gun. Then, we heard two more shots closer together, over a total span of about
eight seconds maximum. I think we both realized that it was a rifle or a gun,
not a backfire, especially after we heard the next two shots." (4-1-03 interview conducted for President Kennedy Has Been Shot, 2003) “I had unloaded the camera, put the film in an envelope, and as we turned the corner onto Houston I tossed the envelope out to a reporter. And that's when we heard the first shot, and
then two more shots, closer together.” (NBC program JFK 50: Eyewitness to History, broadcast 11-16-13) (On what happened when he threw an envelope holding film to Jim Featherstone at the corner of Houston and Main) "The wind caught the envelope and he had to chase it and we were laughing, and I remember that was when the very first shot, and then two more." (On what happened after the shooting) "I looked straight up--that's where the sound came from--and saw the rifle on the window ledge as it was being brought in...I looked up there and immediately it was brought in." (11-20-13 appearance at the Sixth Floor Museum) "We began to turn the corner. I saw the reporter there. I tossed the film out and the wind caught it. And he had to chase the envelope. And we were laughing. The car was turning the corner and we heard the first shot, and then two more closer together. Total of three...Three. It was very clear that there were three shots...I just looked straight ahead of me because we were facing the book depository. That's where the sound came from. I just looked up there and there was a rifle resting on the ledge, on the window ledge...So immediately the rifle was drawn in." (When asked why he didn't take a picture of the rifle in the window with a wide angle lens) "It wouldn't have done me any good to try and shoot from the middle of the block with a wide angle lens." (11-22-13 article in the Plano Star Courier on Jackson's appearance at The Sixth Floor Museum) “'We heard the first shot, then two more closer together,' Jackson said,
raising his fingers in support. 'It was very clear that there were three
shots.'” Analysis: Jackson
places the car well up Houston at
the time of the first shot, when the car at frame 160 was barely past the
turn. More importantly, he is consistent in stating the
last two shots were bunched together. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots
H.B. McLain is
the motorcycle office riding at the left side of camera car #3 in the Hughes frame
corresponding to Zapruder frame 160. (12-29-78 testimony before
the HSCA, Vol. 5 p. 617-641) (When asked if he remembered hearing shots) “I
only remember hearing one…I was approximately halfway between Main and Elm
Streets on Houston…I just looked up the street and the only thing I saw was a bunch
of pigeons flew out behind the school book depository. (The Kennedy
Assassination Tapes, 1979) “Just
after I had turned north onto Houston Street, I was moving very slow along the
west side of the street…The motorcade seemed to stop at Elm and Houston as the
crowd pressed in on the President. As
the President got around onto Elm Street,
I was approaching the middle of the block between Main
and Elm. It was along there that I heard
a shot. I suppose it was the first shot
because I looked up and saw the pigeons flushed from their roost on top of the
building on the northwest corner of Elm and Houston.
I was either stopped or stopping at the time.
I looked around in an effort to determine what had happened. I don’t recall ever hearing the other shots—just
one which I guess was the first.” (No
More Silence p.162-168, published 1998)
“When I made the turn onto Houston
on the left side, we had caught up with the cars in front of us, and I had
stopped right by the side of the entrance to the old jail, which is about
midway between Main and Houston Streets on Houston. I heard one very clear shot, threw my head
out and it appeared that about 5,000 pigeons flew out from behind that building
straight ahead….But I could see the limousine off to my left on Elm, and saw
Mrs. Kennedy crawling on the back of the car.” (7-16-2003 oral history for the Sixth Floor Museum) (When asked if he heard but one shot) "That's all I recall hearing." (When asked if he then looked up at the depository) "Yeah, I looked over there after I looked up. I looked straight up when I heard the shot." (2006 interview with Seamus Coogan on youtube) "My thought was--when I heard the shot, all them pigeons flew out from behind that building, and I just said to myself 'somebody's shooting at the pigeons today.' It didn't even dawn on me they was shooting at him." Analysis: the shot heard by
McLain was the last shot from the school book depository. He was too far up the street for the shot to
have been at frame 160, and his claiming to have stopped before the shot makes
it unlikely to have come before Z-224.
That McLain heard but one shot at the end could be an indication the
last two were very close together, and he perceived the second one as an echo.
Or maybe he was just distracted by the pigeons. Only heard one shot. No shot at
Marrion Baker rode on the east side of camera car #3. He can be seen in the last frame of the Hughes film 60 feet or so north of the north curb of Main Street. (11-22-63 affidavit to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, 24 H199. The highlighted section reflects words on Baker's original hand-written statement, that were subsequently crossed out, and re-written. The handwritten statement can be found in the Dallas Municipal Archives.) “I was on Houston Street and the President’s car had already made a left turn and was approx 100 yards west of Houston and Elm street from Houston onto Elm Street. Just as I approached Elm and Houston I heard three shots. I realized these shots were rifle shots and I began to try and figure out where they came from. I decided these shots had come from the building on the northwest corner of Elm and Houston.” (3-25-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 3H 242-270) ”As we approached the corner there of Main and Houston, we were making a right turn, and as I came out behind that building there, which is the country courthouse, the sheriff building, well there was a strong wind hit me and I almost lost my balance...As I got myself straightened up there, I guess it took me some 20, 30 feet, something like that, and it was about that time that I heard these shots come out. (When asked how far up Houston he was when he heard the shots, as per his measuring the distance with counsel David Belin) “we approximated it was 60 to 80 feet there, north of the north curbline of Main and Houston…It hit me all at once that it was a rifle shot...I heard—before I revved up this motorcycle, I heard the, you know, the two extra shots, the three shots…It seemed to me like they just went bang bang bang; they were pretty well even to me.” (Interview with CBS, aired 9-27-64) “I heard those shots come off, and they seemed like they was high, and they were directly ahead of me. And as I tried to figure out which—where they came from—and the building that I had in mind was directly ahead of me. And that was the Texas School Book Depository.” (Summary of HSCA interview conducted, 10-25-77) "Baker said that when he turned from Main to Houston street a gust of wind almost upset his cycle. By the time he righted himself he heard three shots. 'They went bam, bam, bam. They were high. I figured they came from the Texas School Book Depository Building or the Dallas Texas Building. Pigeons flew off the Hertz sign on the roof of the Book Depository so I figured it had to be there.'" (HSCA Outside contact report, 8-17-78) "On Houston street when first of three rifle shots was fired, believes he was at the driveway to the old county jail. Felt reports came from straight ahead and high. Seemed to be from one of two buildings, 411 Elm--TSBD--or 501, just east of 411. Observed pigeons fluttering in area of TSBD roof, chose that building to check first..." (The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, 1979) Officer E. “A little past half way down (between Main and Elm) I heard the first shot. As I looked up I noticed all the pigeons flushed off the top of the building on the corner ahead of me. And in the same period I heard the second shot, and then the third one.” (7-23-86 testimony in a televised mock trial, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald) (When asked what happened after the motorcade turned left on Elm) "At this time I heard three shots." (When asked to point out on a map where he was when the first shot rang out) "Okay, about this area right here." (He points to a location roughly 70 feet north of the northern curb on Main Street). (When asked if he had a sense where these shots came from) "This building here" (He points to the book depository). (When asked if this was the book depository) "Yes, sir." (Note the next and final question and answer from this program is reported in Vincent Bugliosi's Reclaiming History, but was not shown in the U.S. version of the program.) (When asked if he thought the timing of the shots was such that one person could have fired all the shots with a bolt rifle) "Yes." (Interview in The Men Who Killed Kennedy, broadcast 1988) "I had gotten about halfway between Main and Houston (Note: he clearly means Main and Elm) when I heard these three shots. Immediately I knew they were in front of me and high." (No More Silence, p.123-126, published 1998) “I was approximately 150 feet south of Elm Street traveling north on Houston…Suddenly I heard these three shots. It was my impression that they came directly in front of me and high…The first two were pretty evenly spaced, and the last was a little bit closer.” Analysis: Baker’s not very good with numbers. His most recent approximation of being 150 feet south of Elm is particularly confusing, as that’s almost the entire block. Still, when he was forced to march it off with Belin he came up with his being 60 to 80 feet north of Main at the time of the first shot. Single-assassin theorist Dale Myers, in an extensive study of the assassination films released in 2007, created an illustration of Baker's position at Z-150. In this illustration, he placed Baker approximately 36 feet north of the Main Street curbline. As Myers also asserted that Baker had traveled 19.5 feet over the previous 35 frames of the Hughes film, which was filmed at the same speed as the Zapruder film, it follows that, even in Myers' opinion, Baker was approximately 42 feet north of Main Street at Z-160, and would not have reached 60 feet north of Main Street until approximately frame 192 of the Zapruder film (assuming, of course, that he maintained his speed). Should one not find this convincing, and still wish to claim Baker as a supporter of the LPM scenario, moreover, one should reflect that Baker initially claimed the limo was a hundred yards west of the corner of Houston and Elm when the first shot was fired. First shot 190-224.
The placement of the witnesses in the next few cars is based upon the research of Todd Wayne Vaughn.
Congressman George Mahon was riding in the second VIP car. This is the car seen completing its turn onto Houston in the last frames of the Hughes film. Although he said Presidential Aide Larry O'Brien sat in the front seat, there is reason to believe he was mistaken. (11-23-63 article in the Chicago Sun-Times) "Rep. George H. Mahon (D-Texas) also said that the shots sounded as though they were fired from a deer rifle or some other heavy weapon." (8-16-72 interview with the Johnson Library.) "I was riding in the back seat of a car, top down of course, with Homer Thornberry, it seems to me, and Walter Rogers. Sitting in the front seat with the driver was Larry O'Brien, and we commented that we thought the people looked a little antagonistic and unfriendly... And then we went down a certain street and turned to the right, and shortly after we turned to the right and we were facing the building from which the shot was fired we later learned, we heard these shots fired... We just didn't know what happened. But we saw the cars at the corner and then we saw them race off." Analysis: as the car in which he was riding was just making the turn at 160, his description is more in line with a first shot at 190. First shot 190-224.
Congressman Walter Rogers is believed to have been in this car as well. No comments by him on the shooting have been located.
Congressman Homer Thornberry, a close friend of Vice-President Johnson's, rode in the same car as Mahon and Rogers. (12-21-70 interview with the Johnson Library) "We were riding along, and then we heard what were the shots. We didn't know for sure what it was at first, but you could sense that something was wrong. You could just sense that something ahead had gone wrong." Analysis: too vague.
Lawrence F. O’Brien, one of Kennedy's top aides, sat on the right rear seat of this car. (5-26-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H457-472) (When asked where he was in the motorcade) "I was in one of those open cars--specifically, I don't remember the order of the car, but I remember the passengers I joined. And as I pointed out, this was rather a quick hop into the car that I made at that point. Congressman Mahon was in the front seat with the driver. Congressman Rogers of Texas, now Judge Homer Thornberry of Texas, and me in the back seat." (On the shooting) “As I recall our car was about to make that turn (onto Houston) and it would seem to me therefore that the President’s car was in the process of making the left turn…We heard the shots very clearly…The first shot was fired…And I must have almost immediately said to the driver… “What was that?” The driver replied “I do not know. They must be giving him a 21 gun salute.” By the time the driver had concluded that sentence, we did not hear explosion number 4.” (When asked if he thought the shots were evenly spaced) “That is my impression…I recall that just prior to this, which indicates to me that perhaps we had turned that corner before the shots, Judge Thornberry pointed to a building and said that that was where his offices had been...We were turning the corner, and that took place before the shots.” (No Final Victories, published 1974) “We were rounding a corner—Homer Thornberry was pointing out a building where he’d once had an office—when we heard a shot. “What was that?” I immediately asked our driver. “I don’t know,” he said. “They must be giving him a 21 gun salute.” As he spoke we heard two additional shots. We had no idea what had happened.” (Interview in JFK: A Time Remembered, broadcast 1988) "Suddenly, shots were fired, and my initial reaction was to say to the driver 'What was that?' And he said 'I don't know, perhaps it's a 21 gun salute.'" Analysis: with his impression that the shots were evenly spaced and his initial impression that he was on Main when the first shot rang out, O’Brien almost fell into the first shot 160 category. His last second recollection that he’d already made the turn, however, puts him back into the domain of first shot 190. First shot 190.Congressman Albert Thomas sat in the middle of the front seat of the next car. (4-16-64 and 8-19-64 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Most of the hunters in the motorcade--Sorrels, Connally, Yarborough, Gonzalez, Albert Thomas--instinctively identified it as rifle fire." Analysis: too vague.
Congressman Jack Brooks sat in front seat, on the right side of Thomas. (Comments dictated to President Johnson's secretary Marie Fehmer aboard Air Force One, available on the LBJ Library website, 11-22-63) "Shooting was approximately 12:30... heard three shots... turned around and hurried to hospital... knew immediately they were shots... saw two people on grass near freeway... man and child lying flat on ground... dodging shots." (2-1-71 interview with the Johnson Library) "We were riding along and we heard this shot, I thought it was a shot--two or three of them. Somebody said it was firecrackers and I said, 'It sounded like shots to me.' It sure did, too! I looked ahead and saw those cars speeding up, so we speeded up and went on up to the hospital." (Article by Dan Wallach in the Beaumont Enterprise, as found in 11-20-93 Moscow-Pullman Daily News) "'I heard the shots' Brooks said. 'I knew they were shots. I couldn't see the President. He was making a turn, but I could see people standing there, in shock. I knew then the President, or somebody, had been shot.'" Analysis: too vague.
Congressmen Lindley Beckworth was on the left side of the back seat of this car. (7-22-71 interview with the Johnson Library) "I was in the motorcade when the shots were fired. We thought at first it was a salute. I know Representative Albert Thomas and Representative [George] Mahon and Representative Jack Brooks--we were all together in about the third car back. The thing that really signaled that there was something wrong was this: We had been going at a parade speed, then we had an acceleration that threw us forward in a rough manner. It was at that time that I personally felt that something very bad had happened. We'd been having a very wonderful time in that parade." Analysis: apparently, Beckworth thought Mahon was in the car instead of Wright. Too vague.
Congressman Olin Teague is believed to have been sitting in the middle of the back seat of this car. No comments by him on the shooting have been located.
Congressman John Andrew Young sat on the right front seat of the next car. (6-25-64 interview of Henry Gonzalez by William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "'Is that a Motorcycle backfire?" asked Congressman Young. Henry Gonzalez, who had been hunting only last Sunday, cried, 'No, it's gunfire!' Analysis: another second-hand story.
Congressman Henry Gonzalez, sat on the left side of the back seat of this car. (11-23-63 UPI article found in the San Antonio Light) "'I have misgivings about coming into this city... coming in Dallas.' Gonzalez added: The terrain was such that it must have been carefully selected by the assassin. The motorcade moved down an incline and went under an overpass. It had slowed to a halt at this point. Part of the entourage was excluded from view of the other cars. The terrain was well selected for the act. It must have been carefully thought out. The whole party drove rapidly then to the hospital. 'Oh, this is a sad, sad day. I did not want this to happen.'" (3-16-64 UPI article found in the Brownsville Texas Herald) "Gonzalez said he was in the sixth car in the motorcade and was sitting on the left hand side of the car in the rear. The congressman said when the first shot was fired the car stopped just in the intersection of Houston and Elm streets." (6-25-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "'Is that a Motorcycle backfire?" asked Congressman Young. Henry Gonzalez, who had been hunting only last Sunday, cried, 'No, it's gunfire!' The policeman driving their car immediately said 'You're right' and Gonzalez, who had been in Congress when Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire from the gallery, thought 'Can this be another Puerto Rico?'" (1-13-67 article by Seth Kantor found in the Pittsburgh Press) "Mr. Gonzalez was in the fourth car in the presidential motorcade--the car behind Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and Sen Ralph W. Yarborough, Texas Democrat--when he heard three shots, 'and then the whole earth spun and churned.'" (Introduction to Coup D'etat in America, 1975) "I suppose I really had questions from the start as to why he died, who killed him, and what directions had the bullets come? I was in car number four of the motorcade, and distinctly heard three shots." (8-25-75 UPI article found in the Fort Pierce Florida News Tribune) "Gonzalez said he was in the motorcade in Dallas when President Kennedy was slain. 'I have never mentioned this to anyone before. But when the first shot sounded, the cars were already at a complete halt or just crawling. Odd that we should have come to a virtual stop even before the first shot, at the exact spot.'" (1-26-92 AP article by Michelle Mittlestadt, found in the Victoria Advocate) "Gonzalez was in the third car behind the president's as they rounded the bend next to the Texas School Book Depository on the west end of downtown Dallas. He distinctly recalls hearing only three bullets, but doesn't reject the possibility another bullet--or several bullets--were fired from a gun equipped with a silencer. 'I had rolled the window down and I heard 'Bam,' then a pause, and then 'Bam' and then a short pause, 'Bam,' he remembered. I said 'My God, that's rifle fire.' Gonzalez said he could not see Kennedy's car when the shots were fired, but a police officer quickly motioned them toward nearby Parkland Hospital." Analysis: the car in which Gonzalez was riding was nowhere near the intersection of Houston and Elm at frame 160 of the Zapruder film. He must have meant the intersection of Houston and Main. No matter. As demonstrated in the Hughes film the car in which he was riding did not reach the intersection of Houston and Main until after frame 160. It's safe to say then, that, in Gonzalez' approximation, the first shot rang out shortly thereafter. First shot 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Texas State Senator Bill Patman is purported to have sat in the middle of the back seat. No comments from him on the shooting have been located.
Congressman Graham Purcell sat on the right side of the back seat of this car. (11-21-07 Ohmynews article by former Wichita Falls Times reporter Peter Hinchliffe) "In late afternoon on Nov. 22, I phoned our local Congressman, Graham Purcell. He was in that fateful motorcade through Dallas. Graham was a friend. In June of that year I married a Wichita Falls
girl, Joyce Huggins (we're still together). Graham was a guest at our
wedding. Graham was a great personal friend of Lyndon Johnson, staying at his
fellow Texan's home for a month when he first went to Washington. He was
a devoted supporter of President Kennedy. In a quiet choking voice he said, 'I cannot find the right words. This is the saddest day of my life.' There were four cars between the presidential car and the car in which
Congressman Purcell was riding when the shooting occurred. 'I heard
three shots: one shot, then a pause, then two more. I thought somebody
was letting off firecrackers. Police around us started running. There
were not many people about at the time. The presidential car suddenly
shot away at high speed.'" Analysis: while Hinchliffe's story came a little too late to be credible, it is nevertheless intriguing that, in his recollection, Purcell noted that there had been a pause between the first and second shots. This is in line with the bulk of the other witnesses. While Hinchliffe puts Purcell's recollections in quotes, moreover, he fails to say he'd taken notes on their conversation. As a result, his account of Purcell's recollections can not be fully accepted.
Clyde Haygood rode a motorcycle beside the next car in the motorcade. (4-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H296-302) (When asked where he was when he first heard the shots) “I was on Main Street just approaching Houston Street….(When asked how the shots sounded) “The last two were closer than the first. In other words, it was the first, then a pause, and then the other two were real close.” (HSCA record 180-10115-10114, a report on Haygood's 8-4-78 interview with an HSCA investigator, as published on the website of Denis Morrissette) "When the first report came, he did not know what it was and had yet to make the turn from Main onto Houston. He like others in the middle-to-end section of the motorcade continued, and by the time they turned onto Houston, the second shot had been fired and he recognized the high-powered rifle characteristics by this time. From his position on Houston immediately after the shots, Haygood looked to his left where JFK's limousine was on Elm and could see activity surrounding the limousine..." (Interview with Fox News Channel program JFK: Case Not Closed, broadcast 11-2003.) “There was one shot and there was seconds of pause and then there was two additional shots that was closer together.” Analysis: Haygood had good ears. His words are presented here to help put the next witness’ words in context. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
J.W. Courson rode in the motorcade opposite Haygood. (HSCA
Report, p. 75) “Sergeant Jimmy Wayne Courson was also interviewed on September 26. 1977. He stated that his
assignment in the motorcade was in front of the press bus, approximately six or
seven cars to the rear of the presidential limousine, and that as he turned
onto Houston Street, he
heard three shots about a second apart.” (The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, 1979) Officer F “I had just turned off Main
onto Houston and stopped…While
waiting there for the press bus to complete its turn, I heard the shots. They definitely came from ahead of me, all
three of them. The motorcade was backed
up almost to a standstill. Then, people
started running and falling. I looked toward where I would expect to see the
President’s limousine but I couldn’t see it…I took off for the front of the
motorcade to see what had happened. I
passed people while I was doing this. I
remember passing some of the motorcade vehicles…As I went down Elm Street, I
noticed a motorcycle down at the curb, and an officer crawling on his hands and
knees...I told the (HSCA) investigator that there were only three shots and
that they had all come from Book Depository, but it seemed to me he didn’t
believe me, or didn’t like what he heard.” (No More Silence, p.127-131,
published 1998) “All was going well
until we had just made a right turn from Main onto Houston
Street due to the limousine having to make the
sharp left turn up ahead which slowed the motorcade. We had to stop, thus I was sitting on my
motorcycle in the left lane on Houston
looking more or less at the Book Depository. That’s when I heard the shots! I couldn’t tell exactly from where the
shots came because of the echo pattern, but there were three very distinct
shots. The first two were fairly close
together then there was more space between the second and third. I could tell
that they came from one location, but really I was concentrating more on the
President and seeing if they needed help up ahead. I looked to my left…The limousine came to a
stop and Mrs. Kennedy was on the back. I
noticed that as I came around the corner on Elm. Then the Secret Service agent helped push her
back in the car, and the motorcade took off at a high rate of speed. “ (Interview in the Military Channel program Capturing Oswald, 11-13-13) "We had got about half way up Houston Street, and everything stopped. And about that time, the shots rang out. I knew there was three shots...Where they came from I don't know."
Analysis: Courson’s words can not be accepted at face value. First
of all, the closest press bus to the President was the thirteenth car behind
the limousine, and could not have been turning onto Houston
by Z-230, the last possible moment for Courson to have heard the first shot. I
suspect therefore that Courson heard the last two shots close together just after
he turned onto Houston, and then convinced himself he heard a third shot, first
stating it came right after the second shot, and then later telling Sneed it
came after a pause. It’s also possible, of course, that he did hear a third
shot, but just couldn’t remember where he was when he heard it. Should one
consider it unlikely Courson’s memory could fade so badly, one should consider
that Bobby Joe Dale, who rode six or more car lengths behind Courson and
Haygood, told the Dallas Morning News in 1978 that he'd been riding "five vehicles behind the presidential limousine," and then later told author Larry Sneed that he was
40 feet north of Main on Houston
Street when the first shot rang out. Courson’s inability to remember the shots in a consistent manner becomes
more troubling, however, when one realizes that Courson was purported by Bowles
to have sworn there were only three shots and that they all came from the book
depository, and then later told Sneed he couldn’t even tell where the shots
came from. It’s truly shocking how the unnamed witnesses in Bowles’ book said
things that the witnesses they were obviously based upon completely
contradicted when speaking for attribution.
Still, if Courson’s 1979 statements are even close to being accurate
they achieve Bowles’ desired effect, as they help debunk the dictabelt evidence
so admired by the HSCA. As Courson said he passed a downed motorcycle and saw
an officer crawling up the grass, and as this officer could only be Officer
Haygood, Courson clearly turned onto Elm after Officer Haygood. As Malcolm Couch was in camera car #3, and as
he began filming from the intersection of Houston and Elm, and as he then
panned back to the street as Officer Haygood cut around the car, and as this
revealed another officer just ahead of Haygood by camera car #1, we can
conclude then that the officer ahead of Haygood was not Officer Courson but Officer
McLain, the only officer in the area not behind Haygood. McLain’s
presence in this image creates a huge problem for supporters of the
dictabelt evidence. If the microphone purported to be McLain's
was by the Cabell car, two cars ahead of camera car # 1, when the shots
out, and then traveled at a constant
speed through the plaza, as purported by those defending the dictabelt evidence, why was McLain riding by camera car #1, which had slowed down to a near-stop when the shots rang out, 20 or 30 seconds later? Possible
first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots
Well, we’ve almost reached the end of our motorcade witnesses. But before we can end, we need to go back to the beginning.
The Leading Men
Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry drove the small white lead car in the motorcade. (11-24-63 article by Donald Jansen in the New York Times) "The chief was riding in a car 40 feet ahead of the limousine carrying Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy and Gov. and Mrs. John B. Connally Jr. of Texas. The Motorcade was on its way to the Trade Mart where the President was to have spoken at a lunch. Chief Curry said he could tell from the sound of the three shots that they had come from the book company building, near downtown Dallas." (4-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 4H150-202) “I was riding in a Presidential parade and approximately a hundred feet, I guess, ahead of the President’s car, and when we heard this first report, I couldn’t tell where it was coming from...We were just approaching an underpass…from the report I couldn’t tell whether it was coming from the railroad yard or whether it was coming from behind...we heard this report…we were perhaps a couple of hundred feet or so (down Elm)…(when asked how far ahead of the Presidential vehicle he was) “to the best of my knowledge it would have been 100, 125 feet” (when asked where the President’s car was at the time of the first shot) “I would say it was approximately halfway between Houston Street and the underpass, which would be, I would say probably 125- 150 feet west of Houston Street…(when asked how far it had gone by the time of the second shot) “perhaps 25 or 30 feet further along” (and the third shot) “A few feet further, perhaps 15-20 feet further” (when asked the duration of the shots) “perhaps 5 or 6 seconds…I heard three shots. I will never forget it.” (9-25-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Curry was under the impression that someone had fired a railroad torpedo." (8-18-69 interview with Johnson Library) "The Secret Service man had a radio but it didn't seem to be working too well at the time. He had been talking to some of the agents in the cars behind him, but it was a little portable machine. When I heard the shots and looked back in the rear view mirror I could see commotion in the President's car. About that time a motorcycle also pulled over, and I asked him what had happened, if someone had been hurt, and he said yes. I told him, "Take us to Parkland Hospital." (Curry's description of the shots in his book, JFK Assassination File, published 1969) "About half-way between Houston and the triple-underpass I heard a sharp crack. Someone in the car said, 'Is that a firecracker?' Two other sharp reports came almost directly after the first. All of the reports were fairly close together, but perhaps there was a longer pause between the first and second than between the second and third. The President's car was only about 100 feet behind our car at that moment. I glanced into my rear view mirror and could see the commotion in the President's car. Everyone was confused." (9-5-75 FBI report) “Lt. Jack Revill of Dallas Police Department told SA Brown that he had recently been contacted by former Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry who told him he still has the impression that two men were involved in the shooting of President Kennedy.” (2-6-77 UPI article found in the Valley News) "Reflecting on the fateful day which changed his life, Curry says, "The first shot sounded like a firecracker or a railroad torpedo. When the second and third shots came, I was sure it was rifle fire." Analysis: Curry’s statements fit the general pattern. By testifying that the limousine was approximately halfway to the underpass when the first shot rang out, he undercuts the possibility the car was as far back as it was at 160. Similarly, by testifying that the limousine traveled a much shorter distance between the second and third shots than between the first two, he suggests the last two shots were bunched together. His latter statements confirm this impression. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Winston Lawson (11-23-63 report, 17H628-629) “It was about the time our car was arriving at this bridge that I heard the first shot. I believe I heard two more sharp reports and looking back saw people scurrying away from the route, as though they were taking cover. Almost immediately the President’s car leaped ahead.” (12-1-63 report, 17H630-634) “As the lead car was passing under this bridge I heard the first loud, sharp report and in rapid succession two more sounds like gunfire. I could see persons to the left of the motorcade vehicles running away.” (4-23-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 4H317-358) (when asked how far ahead they were of the limousine) “I think it was a little further ahead than it had been in the motorcade…I heard this very loud report…my first impression was firecracker or bomb or something like that…I can recall spinning around and looking back, and seeing people over on the grassy median kind of area running around and dropping down….I am positive that it came from the rear, and then I spun that way to see what had occurred back there…Then I heard two more sharp reports, the second two were closer together than the first. There was one report, and a pause, then two more reports closer together, two and three were closer together than one and two.” (1-31-78 interview with HSCA investigator, file #180-10074-10396) "As they neared the Triple Overpass, Lawson heard the first shot, which to Lawson sounded like a "firecracker" or "cherry bomb." This was followed by a total of two more shots." (9-5-2003 interview with the Sixth Floor Museum) "I believe I was just about to go under the--pretty close to it anyway--the underpass to go out on the Stemmons Freeway sometime a little bit later, and I heard a shot, (makes sound) like that, and then I heard another one (makes sound). And the third one was a little closer to the second one than the first one was to the second one...I thought 'shots'...I thought immediately that it had come from over my right hand shoulder." (11-22-2003 article in the Dallas Morning News) “And then came the first shot. Like most witnesses, Win Lawson recalls two more, though puzzled by the quicker pace between the second and third.” (Interview in the Discovery Channel program The Kennedy Detail, first broadcast 12-2-10) (While purportedly discussing the last two shots) "I heard a bang (he then waits about two seconds) bang." (Later in the program, when discussing the number of shots fired) "There were three. They were exactly like that. The third one came closer to the second one than the second one was to the first one. Bang (he waits about three seconds) Bang..Bang (This last bang now comes about a second after the second bang.) They were from back of me over my right shoulder. Nothing went bang in front of me. Nothing went bang from the side of me--the front side of me. That shot came from the school book depository, back over my right hand shoulder." Analysis: by stating that the last two shots were bunched together, Lawson is indirectly stating that the first shot hit. Since no one dived down until after the head shot, Lawson’s statement that people dropped down after the first shot is instead suggestive that they dropped down after the second. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Dallas County Sheriff Bill Decker rode in the back seat of the lead car. (11-22-63 article in the Dallas Times-Herald) "Sheriff Decker said he and Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry were riding in the lead car in the parade about one and a half lengths in front of the President's car. The Sheriff said he heard two shots and 'may have seen one of the bullets hit the concrete and bounce.' He said he did not see the other bullet. 'It all happened so fast, I'm just not sure what happened,' Sheriff Decker said." (Undated 1963-1964 statement included with Decker Exhibit 5323, 19H458) “I distinctly remember hearing 2 shots. As I heard the first retort, I looked back over my shoulder and saw what appeared to be a spray of water come out of the rear seat of the President’s car. At this same moment, Mr. Lawson said, “Let’s get out of here and get to the nearest hospital.” When I heard the shots I noted motorcycle officers coming off their cycles and running up the embankment on Dealey Plaza.” Analysis: the only spray of anything Decker could have seen was the spray of blood from Kennedy’s head. It seems likely the spray was from the shot he heard, and that another shot followed. Since he recalls Lawson mentioning the hospital as this first shot rang out, and Kellerman didn’t call Lawson until just before the head shot, the “shots” Decker heard were undoubtedly the last two shots bunched together. Only heard two shots. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot probably after the head shot).
Forrest Sorrels (11-28-63 deposition, 21H548) “When we were at a point approximately three fourths of the distance between the Houston and Elm Street intersections and the first underpass, I heard what sounded like a rifle shot and said “What’s that?”, as I turned to my right to look back in the direction of the terrace and the Texas School Book Depository. When I heard two more shots, I said “let’s get out of here”. I looked towards the top of the terrace to my right as the sound of the shots seemed to come from that direction. I noted that the President’s car had excelerated its speed and was fast closing the gap between us.” (5-7-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H332-360) “I looked back to see how close the President’s car was in making the turn…we were probably, oh, I would say, several car lengths ahead of it...so they called on the radio to the Trade Mart that we were about five minutes away. And it seemed like almost instantly after that the first shot was heard…I just said “What’s that?” And turned around to look up on this terrace part there, because the sound sounded like it came from the back and up in that direction…Within about 3 seconds, there were two more similar reports. And I said “Let’s get out of here” and looked back all the way back to where the President’s car was, and I noticed some confusion, movement there, and the car just seemed to lurch forward.” (8-26-64 and 9-24-64 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Most of the hunters in the motorcade--Sorrels, Connally, Yarborough, Gonzalez, Albert Thomas--instinctively identified it as rifle fire." Analysis: Sorrels’ approximation of the distance between the cars and his grouping the second two shots together is indicative he heard them the same as by now should be expected. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Stavis Ellis was one of the motorcycle officers out in front of the lead car. (4-21-71? interview of Elliis by "Whitney," someone working for researcher Fred Newcombe, as presented by Larry Rivera and Jim Fetzer on the Veterans Today website, 4-3-14)(When asked if he saw any wounds) "No, I didn't. I didn't get that close...I didn't know how bad he was hit until my man Chaney came up there and said he--no chance, he ain't got no chance but let's go. He said his head was just--well, I didn't really know for sure until we got to the hospital. There wasn't any chance for him." (When asked if the limo stopped) "Well no it didn’t stop, it almost stopped. If you’ve ever ridden a motor, you know if you go so slow, your motor will want to lean to one side, you have to put your foot down and balance it, but we were going so slow, that’s what was happening we were having to kick our foot down, a very slow pace, this was, after the first shot was fired, we were – we cut the speed, the Secret Service cut the speed, on the convoy." (When asked how long) "Well, it was just momentarily, it never did stop, it almost stopped, it got so slow, we were just barely moving – and then they hollered Go Go Go! Lets go. Get him to the hospital as quick as you can!" (HSCA record 180-10109-10154, the 8-5-78 notes of an HSCA investigator, as published on the website of Denis Morrisette) "I was 100 to 125 feet front of JFK's cars--alongside the first car. I'd just started down the hill. The first one sounded like--I'd looked back to signal the (?) to open when it came and I saw the debris come up from the ground at a nearby curb. I took it as a fragment grenade. (He then recalls seeing some family members in the crowd.) JFK also turned and looked around--looked right over his shoulder. The second shot hit him and the third blew his head up. Chaney came up and told me JFK was hit." (HSCA Vol. XII, p.23 “On August 5, 1978, the committee received information from former Dallas policeman Stavis Ellis that Ellis had also seen a missile hit the ground in the area of the motorcade… Ellis said he rode on a motorcycle alongside the first car…approximately 100 to 125 feet in front of the car carrying President Kennedy. Ellis said that just as he started down the hill of Elm Street, he looked back toward President Kennedy’s car and saw debris come up from the ground at a nearby curb. Ellis thought it was a fragment grenade. Ellis also said that President Kennedy turned around and looked over his shoulder. The second shot then hit him, and the third shot “blew his head up.” (The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, 1979) Officer A “when the first shot was fired, I was looking directly at the President, and I saw the concrete burst into a cloud of dust when the bullet hit the curb. I noticed, too, that with the shot, some people started running in every direction, while several people hit the ground…Then while looking back at the President, I heard the second shot. The President became rigid and grabbed his neck. It also seemed like the limousine stopped or almost stopped, and agents from the following car started running toward the President’s limousine. The third shot hit the President in the head.” (Early 90's? interview with Denis Morrissette, as posted on youtube) (on the number of shots) "There were three shots." (Later, in Part 2, on the first shot ) "It either missed him altogether or it went through him and then went into the windshield and the street." (Later, when asked which shot this was.) "It would have been the first bullet... The one that hit the curb was the first bullet. And there was one more. It went through the President's back and down into Governor Connally's leg. The third one hit him in the head. Y'know where it went. It didn't go anyplace but right into his head, right in the rear of his head there. The only one that could have gone into the street would have been that first one. It either missed him altogether or maybe just barely nicked his neck or something. It went through the windshield and into the concrete over there. I still standby that, because that's the way I saw it." (Later) "There were three shots and they all came from the rear." (No More Silence p.142-l53, published 1998) “Just as I turned around, then the first shot went off. It hit back there…I could see where the shot came into the south side of the curb. It looked like it hit concrete or grass there in just a flash, and a bunch of junk flew up like a white or gray color dust or smoke coming out of the concrete… I thought there had been some people hit back there as people started falling. I thought either some crank had thrown a big “Baby John” firecracker and scared them causing them to jump down or else a fragmentation grenade had hit all those people. In any case they went down! Actually I think they threw themselves down in anticipation of another shot. As soon as I saw that, I turned around and rode up beside the chief’s car and BANG!...BANG!, two more shots went off, three shots in all!” Analysis: Ellis is a poster child for Selective Attribution Syndrome. Both conspiracy theorists and lone nut theorists alike love to use his comments about seeing something hit the curb as evidence for a first shot miss. But they should read on. He says that as this happened people began running everywhere. That they began falling... He is therefore describing the head shot. What he saw hit the curb then was quite possibly the skull fragment observed flying through the air by Charles Brehm and later found in the street by Harry Holmes and A.D. McCurley. This conclusion is further supported by Ellis' statements to Morrissette, moreover. There, he made clear that he 1) believed the bullet striking the windshield was the same bullet that struck the street, and 2) had come to conclude the first shot hit the street because he was under the impression the bullet striking the skull did not exit. If this is so, and Ellis had mis-remembered the head shot as the first shot, well, then, his description of Kennedy reaching for his neck and the third shot striking the President in the head would appear to be more an assertion of what he believes happened, then what he saw happen. Sure enough, in Ellis’s statements to Larry Sneed in No More Silence, he admits he turned back around before the second shot was fired and therefore could not have seen what he is purported to have seen in Bowles’ book. His throwing in the “Bang Bang” at the end was probably poetic license but possibly a reflection that he did indeed hear one or two shots after the head shot. Not surprisingly, the Bell and Daniel films prove that Ellis was nowhere near the lead car at the time of the shots. Heard no early shots. One or more shots possibly after the head shot.
William Lumpkin rode beside Officer Ellis in front of the lead car. (The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, 1979) Officer B. “At first I thought it was a motorcycle backfiring, as they were heating up. The first shot apparently missed the limousine as it hit the curb, not too far from where they (Mary Moorman and Jean Hill) were standing. The second and third shots hit the President from the rear. At the time, I was facing east on Elm with the grassy knoll to my immediate left, and the corner of the stockade fence was less than 100 feet away. I saw nothing on that hill that looked in any way suspicious. I’m absolutely positive that there were only three shots, that they all came from back up Elm Street from the right rear of the President’s limousine, and that no one was shot from the grassy knoll.” (No More Silence, p.154-161, published 1998) “we had turned off of Main Street onto Houston for one block, then over to Elm Street, then turned back left, and we were stopped at the time before we heard the shots. When the shots occurred I thought it was a motorcycle backfiring. I heard three distinct bangs with none of them being together or anything like that. There’s been conflicting reports where all the noise came from. From where I was it was behind me… I thought it was a motorcycle backfiring at first, till I turned back and saw the commotion in the President’s convertible. I wasn’t sure at the time what it was, but it later turned out it was his wife on the back. Then Chaney rode up to Curry and probably told him that the President had been shot. We were still stopped at the time, and then Chief Curry comes on and says “Let’s go, boys!" We went under the triple underpass and took the entrance ramp to Stemmons Freeway.” Analysis: very, very disturbing. Lumpkin’s statements suggest once again that the Kennedy Assassination Tapes was a dishonest book presenting deliberately distorted recollections of the assassination. (Was this why Bowles failed to identify his witnesses by name?) While in Bowles’ book Lumpkin says that he was facing east by the grassy knoll when the shots were fired, and that the first shot “apparently” missed—which would seem to be his admission that this is what he heard from Ellis--and that the second and third shots hit the President from the rear, Lumpkin told Sneed that he only turned around after the last shot in time to see Jackie climbing out onto the trunk! As stated, the Bell and Daniel films prove that Lumpkin and Ellis were nowhere near the lead car when the shots rang out. That Bowles, who was the Communications Supervisor for the DPD, published such lies is disturbing. That soon after the publication of his book Bowles became Dallas County Sheriff is even more disturbing. Too vague.
So now we’ve looked at the statements of 58 witnesses on the south and east sides of the Plaza, and 69 more in the motorcade. Of these 127 witnesses, 26 made statements that were too vague to tell us how the shots were fired. Of the remaining 101, 65 made statements suggesting the first shot was heard at a time corresponding to the period between frames 190 and 224 of the Zapruder film, and that two closely bunched shots followed. Another 21 made statements indicating the first shot was heard at frame 190 or afterward. Another 4 witnesses heard four or more shots, 3 others heard a shot after the head shot, 2 heard a shot within three seconds of the head shot, and 1 more could only swear to hearing two shots. This leaves just 5 witnesses who made statements which can reasonably be interpreted as supporting the LPM scenario of a first shot miss, a three and a half second gap, a second shot, a five second gap, and a head shot. And the statements of all of these witnesses, after their statements have been compared to the photographic evidence, can be used to support other scenarios as well. (3 of them made statements suggesting the last shot was fired after the head shot.) Eugene Boone, the first witness whose statements we examined, therefore, is the only witness so far whose actions and statements remotely suggest the LPM scenario, and he reversed himself later. This means there are NO eyewitnesses as yet whose statements offer unclouded support for the LPM scenario of a first shot miss. The evidence for this shot is… appropriately enough…missing. On the other hand, there were 21 witnesses who made statements suggesting that the last shot missed. Those who base their acceptance of the LPM scenario on a single-assassin-minded interpretation of the actions of John Connally and Rosemary Willis in the Zapruder film, and fail to note that their acceptance of this theory puts them at odds with the statements and testimony of President Lyndon Johnson, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, Senator Ralph Yarborough, Congressman George Mahon, Congressman Jim Wright, Congressman Henry Gonzalez, Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell, Dallas Chief of Police Jesse Curry, Dallas County Sheriff Bill Decker, numerous Secret Service agents, dozens of Dallas Police Officers, Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputies, and Texas State Highway Patrolmen, and Governor John Connally himself, should be forced to go back to school…and read the Warren Report and its twenty-six volumes of supporting evidence... the very books many of them claim to be defending.