Chapter 5a: Pieces on the Edge
Chapter 5a: Pieces on the Edge
Those who viewed the worst day in Dallas history...from Houston
A Turn for the Worst
The turn of JFK's limo from Main Street onto Houston is perhaps the most filmed and photographed moment of the Dallas motorcade.
Beyond the photo taken by Jack Weaver, shown in the last chapter, this event was filmed by Marie Muchmore, with her movie camera...
and Robert Hughes with his movie camera...
and photographed by Associated Press photographer James Altgens...
as well as amateur photographers Richard Bothun...
and Phil Willis...
The journey of the limo up Houston was also filmed by Marie Muchmore...
and, of course, Robert Hughes...
(The Nix and Muchmore gifs in this chapter were created by JFK assassination photographic wiz Robin Unger. Thanks, Robin.)
These last few films, moreover, show a number of witnesses along Houston in front of the Criminal Courts Building.
Jim Featherston was a Dallas Times-Herald news reporter. He was waiting at the corner of Houston and Elm for a drop-off from photographer Robert Jackson, who was traveling in camera car #3. The upper part of Featherston's head can be made out in the Altgens photo above, directly in line with Kennedy's head. (11-21-93 Reporters Remember conference, as shown on C-Span) "I heard the shots but honestly I didn't recognize them as gunshots. I thought they were firecrackers. So I wasn't counting. If someone was to ask me today how many shots I heard, I would say 'at least three.'" Analysis: too vague, but open to there being more than three shots.
Jack Faulkner was a Dallas County Deputy Sheriff. While the rest of the deputies viewing the motorcade did so from Main Street in front of the Criminal Courts Building, Faulkner said he'd wandered off to the corner of Houston and Elm. (11-22-63 report, 19H511) “I was standing on the corner of Main and Houston when the presendital (sic: presidential) motorcade came by. A few seconds later I heard three shots and the crowd began to move en masse toward Elm Street. When I reached Elm Street there was much confusion. I asked a woman if they had hit the President and she told me that he was dead, that he had been shot thru the head. I asked her where the shorts (note: he means shots) came from and she pointed toward the concrete arcade on the east (note: he means north) side of Elm Street, just west of Houston Street. There were many officers going toward the railroad yard by this time and I joined them in search of the assassin. A small negro boy came up to a Dallas uniform officer and told him that he saw a man shoot out of the window of the school book depository. I immediately went to the depository.” (Early 1990's? phone interview with researcher Denis Morrissette found on youtube) "I heard three shots." (No More Silence p.215-223, published 1998) “When they turned back onto Elm Street and headed toward the Triple Underpass, then I heard three very distinct shots. I’ll never forget the sequence: there was a pause between number one and number two, then number two and three were rapid. At the time, I actually thought that someone had attempted to shoot the President and possibly the Secret Service had shot back. It was that fast!” Analysis: First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Garland Slack (11-22-63 statement to the Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 19H495) “Today, I was standing on Houston Street, just below the window to Sheriff Decker's office waiting for the parade. I was standing there when the President's car passed and just after they rounded the corner from Houston onto Elm Street, I heard a report and I knew at once that it was a high-powered rifle shot. I am a big game hunter and am familiar with the sound of hi powered rifles and I knew when I heard the retort that the shot had hit something. Within a few seconds I heard another retort and knew it also had hit something and all I could see was the highly colored hat that Mrs. Kennedy had on. I couldn’t see anything else… it sounded to me like this shot came from away back or from within a building. I have heard this same sort of sound when a shot has come from within a cave.” (12-2-63 FBI report, 26H364) "He heard two shots in rapid succession and realized from the sound that they must have been fired from the interior of a building. He said he did not realize which building because actually the sound as he first heard it seemed to come from the direction of the overpass but its particular characteristics made him feel it had to come from a building instead of from an open area. He said when he heard the third shot he believed it came from the Texas School Book Depository Building. He said immediately after hearing the first two shots the crowds which were tremendously heavy went into a complete panic and a state of shock." Analysis: by his original signed statement that the two shots he heard came within a few seconds of each other and that they both hit, Slack makes it clear he didn’t hear a first shot miss at frame 160 of the Zapruder film. The FBI report, of course, clouds this considerably. Here, Slack is purported to have claimed there were three shots. Perhaps, then, he'd decided that the first shot he'd heard was in fact two shots, and that a third one followed. If so, his words could be considered supportive of the LPM scenario. This is undercut, however, by Slack's subsequent assertion that panic broke out after the second shot. The testimony of the witnesses as a whole and the filmed footage of the assassination demonstrate beyond any real doubt that the crowd did not panic or go into shock until after the head shot. The probability exists then that, when interviewed by the FBI, Slack simply added a third shot onto his scenario. Probably Only heard two shots. Probable First shot hit 190-224.
Jay Skaggs stood on Houston near the northeast corner of Houston and Main. He was standing with his wife Erma. (3-13-02 oral history for the Sixth Floor Museum) ”After the second and third shot, then I told Erma to stay there, and I took [off] running across from the parade, and I don’t remember what cars I was dodging. Anyway, I ran across the street and headed toward where people were still on the ground.” (12-2-02 article on Baptist Standard.com) “He and his family arrived early, parked their car not far from the School Book Depository, and then walked to the corner of Main and Houston…"I knew they had to make a turn onto Houston Street, and I thought the car might slow down enough that I could get a good picture," Skaggs recalled. "But when the president's car made the turn, he was looking the other direction”…Skaggs instead snapped a photo picturing the back of Kennedy's head, a profile of the First Lady, and a slightly obscured view of Gov. John Connally and his wife, Nellie, turned partly away from the camera. Skaggs took a photo of the press bus that followed the presidential convertible. Then he heard the first gunshot. "I thought it was a firecracker--somebody just being stupid. Then I heard a second shot and a third one, and I knew it was a rifle," Skaggs said. Telling his wife and daughter to stay where they were, Skaggs crossed the street, dashing between cars. He snapped a photo of the assassination scene on Elm Street, about one minute after the last shot was fired.” (Interview in 11-22-03 WBAP radio program found on Youtube) "I mumbled something to my wife about some jerk shooting a firecracker. But then I heard the other two shots and I knew it was a rifle. And I ran across the street." Analysis: as the press bus would have been a ways from Houston at Z-160, the first shot must have come afterwards. His grouping of the last two shots together—with no mention of any activity in between, suggests they were bunched together. Probable first shot 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Let us now look at the statements of those standing on Houston, just north of Main Street...on the west side of the street.
Some of these witnesses, for that matter, may be in the photo below, taken by Jay Skaggs.
William Sharper was an elevator operator for the Dal-Tex Building. (1-24-64 FBI report, found in FBI Oswald File, Sec. 83, p43) "Sharper related that on November 22, 1963 he had left the Dallas-Tex Building to observe President Kennedy, whose car he thought was to pass by the corner of Houston and Main Streets. According to Sharper a short time after the President's car passed by that point he heard several shots and subsequently crossed to the east side of Houston Street and walked to the corner of Houston and Elm immediately in front of the Texas School Book Depository where he remained standing for a very short time. He advised that he saw nothing of pertinence and could furnish no information which could be of assistance to this investigation. He then returned to the Dallas-Tex Building." Analysis: Too vague.
Mark Bell filmed Kennedy’s turn onto Elm past the front steps of the school book depository from a pedestal on the west side of Houston Street. (Letter to Josiah Thompson, 2-26-67, as referenced in Six Seconds in Dallas, 1967) “Mr. Bell heard two of the shots definitely bunched but could not honestly say which shots these were. 'Anyone could be mistaken on the bunching of shots...It happened within a few seconds and there was emotion, excitement, and fear involved.'” (Pictures of the Pain p. 267, Trask interview, 3-13-89) “I don’t believe that any individual person can tell you exactly how many shots were fired, because of the echoes.” Analysis: since virtually no one heard the first two shots bunched together, the “bunching” remembered by Bell almost certainly indicates the last two shots were bunched together. Too vague.
Jim Willmon was a Dallas Morning News ad salesman, believed to have been standing on the west side of Houston Street between Main and Elm. (July-August 1988 interview recounted in American History Illustrated, November 1988) "The car turned down Elm Street. A car backfired, or so I thought. I said to my buddy, 'The Secret Service is going to have a heart attack!' But it wasn't a backfire. It was shots. People ran toward the grassy knoll. No one seemed to look up at the Book Depository." (Handwritten first-hand account, signed by Willmon and dated 10-10-98, found on icollector.com) "Time has taken its toll on the exact memory of what went on that day. I remember very well that there was enough time between the first shot and the others that I had time to make the remark about the Secret Service. I also remember that some young man had some kind of seizure in the area where we were standing before the presidential motorcade passed that distracted us somewhat." Analysis: recalls a gap between the first shot and the "others." Probable first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Now, let's clear up some confusion. One of the surprising things about the JFK assassination photo evidence is the number of photographers taking pictures of Kennedy both on Houston Street and Elm Street. While some raced up Houston alongside the car to do so (Phil Willis, Hugh Betzner), some (James Altgens, Richard Bothun) took their photos from the west side of Houston and Main, only to turn around and race into the Plaza behind them. In this manner, then, they were able to take pictures of the limo from the west as it entered the plaza at Main and Houston, and from the west as it crossed the plaza on Elm.
This divergence of these shutterbugs is perhaps best demonstrated, moreover, in the photo below. Those racing after the motorcade ran from the corner across the street off to the right, while those running out into the plaza ran from the corner off to the left.
There was a third strategy, however. As employed by Marie Muchmore and Wilma Bond, this strategy entailed taking pictures at Main and Houston, and then rushing over to the white concrete structure overlooking the plaza behind them, and filming the motorcade as it crossed the plaza on Elm.
This structure is perhaps best demonstrated in the background of the Frank Cancellare photo below. (Apparently, this photo was rescued from obscurity by researcher Lee Forman. So thanks, Lee.) Now, to be clear, Cancellare took this photo from the grassy knoll, a minute or two after the shooting. It shows the rush of bystanders and witnesses up the knoll's steps and out into the train yards, from which they'd presumed the shots had been fired. Marie Muchmore and Wilma Bond are presumably in the distance.
When one looks at the full uncropped slide of Charles Bronson taken just after the first shot, moreover, one can get another look at this concrete structure. Here it is on the right:
Now, should one look closely at the Bronson slide above, one should notice what could very well be two women at the far right of this image. It could be, then, that these were Marie Muchmore and Wilma Bond.
Marie Muchmore filmed the Presidential limo turn from Main onto Houston Street and then ran to the west to film it on Elm from the white concrete structure shown in the Skaggs and Cancellare photos above. While she started filming after the shooting commenced, she did capture within her film the fatal head shot and response of some of the witnesses. (12-4-63 FBI report CD7 p.31) “She advised that they stood on Main and Houston Streets. As the parade passed by there she heard the first shot but from where they were standing could not observe where the shot came from. She said she panicked after this shot and ran back to the office, later becoming deathly sick over the incident…She said she had a movie camera with her at the time and Wilma Bond had a box camera but she advised that she did not obtain any photographs of the assassination scene.” (2-18-64 FBI report, CD 735 p.8) “Mrs. Muchmore stated that after the car turned on Elm Street from Houston Street, she heard a loud noise which at first she thought was a firecracker but then with the crowd of people running in all directions and hearing the two further noises, sounding like gunfire, she advised that she began to run to find a place to hide.” Analysis: while, on the surface, Mrs. Muchmore’s words don’t tell us much, when one reflects that she continued filming after hearing an early shot, and only quit after hearing “two more noises”--grouping them together—it seems pretty clear she heard the last two shots bunched together around the moment of the head shot. As she described her thought process regarding the first shot—thinking it was a firecracker—it would be logical to assume she would have mentioned her thoughts about the second, if it had been a separate shot followed by a five second pause, as in the LPM scenario. Still, it's always possible she was merely playing stupid to try and hide the existence of her film from the FBI. For some strange reason, after having sold a film of the assassination to UPI on 11-25, she failed to tell the FBI about this film on 12-4. Perhaps it was a miscommunication. She reportedly told them "she did not obtain any photographs of the assassination scene." Well, who is this "she"? This may have been her way of hiding that she'd taken a movie of the assassination scene. Or it could merely have been her trying to protect her friend, Wilma Bond, who took photographs just before and after the shots, but no photographs during the shooting. Probable first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Here then is the assassination portion of Muchmore's film, as recently cleaned up and televised. This film is not particularly gruesome. It could have been shown on TV in 1963. In fact, it was shown on TV in 1963, then pulled back and kept from the public (not to mention the agencies responsible for investigating Kennedy's assassination) for weeks and weeks, and, ultimately, months, and then years. One wonders why this was done. (Gif courtesy Robin Unger)
Wilma Bond took a number of photos just before and after the shots. She was standing just to the south of Marie Muchmore. (2-18-64 FBI report, CD 735.p.7) “She stated that due to the excitement she did not obtain any photographs at the time of the shooting. She also advised to the best of her knowledge, she heard at least three shots fired at the time of the incident but that due to the excitement, she does not recall the exact number.” (2-14-69 testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) “I was trying to take a picture of the building, or I mean the corner there…when I heard what I thought was a firecracker…I proceeded on over to the alcove...I heard two more…Still firecrackers to me…I would be walking toward the triple underpass.” (When asked from where the shots came) “From my right” Analysis: as she grouped the last two shots together after mentioning a short pause after the first shot, she probably heard these last two shots bunched together. Probable first shot 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Now here's a snippet from Orville Nix's film of the limo's turn onto Elm. It shows some of the same individuals on the east side of Houston shown in the Muchmore and Hughes films. Now focus in on the couple against the wall at the end of the clip. That's Arnold and Barbara Rowland.
Now here's a Wilma Bond photo capturing this same moment in time. Here, the Rowlands' heads are seen just above the front windshield of the limo.
Arnold Rowland (11-22-63 statement to Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, 24H224) “At approximately 12:10 p.m. today, my wife Barbara and I arrived in downtown Dallas and took position to see the President's motorcade. We took position at the west entrance of the Sheriff's Office on Houston Street. We stood there for a time talking about the security measures that were being made for the president's visit in view of the recent trouble when Mr. Adelai [sic) Stevenson had been a recent visitor to Dallas. It must have been 5 or 10 minutes later when we were just looking at the surrounding buildings when I looked up at the Texas Book Depository building and noticed that the second floor from the top had two adjoining windows which were open, and upon looking I saw what I thought was a man standing back about 15 feet from the windows and was holding in his arms what appeared to be a high-powered rifle because it looked like it had a scope on it. He appeared to be holding this at a parade rest sort of position. I mentioned this to my wife and merely made the remark that it must be the secret service men. This man appeared to be a white man and appeared to have a light colored shirt on, open at the neck. He appeared to be of slender build and appeared to have dark hair. In about 15 minutes President Kennedy passed the spot where we were standing and the motorcade had just turned west on Elm heading down the hill when I heard a noise which I thought to be a back fire. In fact some of the people around laughed and then in about 8 seconds I heard another report and in about 3 seconds a third report. My wife, who had ahold of my hand, started running and dragging me across the street and I never did look up again at this window." (11-22-63 FBI memo on Rowland and his wife, written by SA Wallace Heitman to SAC Shanklin, found in the Dallas FBI files received by researcher Harold Weisberg) "Both heard three shots, the second shot following the first by about 8 seconds, and the third following the second by about 3 seconds." (11-23-63 FBI report based upon Heitman's 11-22-63 interview of Rowland, 26H166) "At Approximately 12:10 PM, November 22, 1963, he and his wife Barbra took a position on Houston Street at the west entrance to the Sheriff's Office to observe the Kennedy motorcade...About 5 or 10 minutes after they had arrived at this position on Houston Street, he looked up at the Texas School Book Depository Building and noticed two adjoining windows on the second floor from the top were open and in the windows he observed a man standing back about 10 or 15 feet and he was holding in his hands what appeared to be a rifle with a scope. The Kennedy motorcade...had just turned west on Elm Street and headed down the hill toward the triple underpass when he heard the first shot, which he said sounded somewhat like a backfire of an automobile. He said following the first shot some people around him had laughed. He said that about 8 seconds after the first shot there was another loud report, which he was positive was a rifle shot. A third shot then followed in about three seconds." (11-23-63 phone call with the FBI, 26H167) "at approximately 12:15 PM he and his wife were standing on the East side of Houston Street, adjacent to the Dallas County Courthouse...he was looking around at the buildings and observed an unknown male wearing a light colored shirt and holding what appeared to be a .306 rifle with telescopic sight on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. He stated this man was standing inside the window on the southwest corner of the sixth floor of the building, which window is nearest the overpass." (11-24-63 statement to the FBI, 16H954) "My wife Barbra and I arrived at a point on Houston Street in Dallas between Main and Elm Streets at about 12:10 PM, November 22, 1963... Between 12:10 and 12:15 PM, I looked toward the Texas School Book Depository which faces the South and is located on the corner of Elm and Houston. I observed the two rectangular windows at the extreme west end of the Texas School Book Depository next to the top floor were open. I saw what I believed to be a man standing about 12 to 15 feet back from the window on the right. He appeared to be slender in proportion to his height, was wearing a white or light colored shirt, either collarless or open at the neck. He appeared to have dark hair. He also appeared to holding a rifle with scope attached...I would not be able to identify the person I saw due to the distance involved...About 15 or 20 minutes later the President came by, but I did not see him get shot, nor did I see any shots fired. I did hear three shots." (12-10-63 interview with the FBI, CD205 p14) "At 12:15 P.M...he saw a man with a rifle on the sixth floor of the Texas State Book Depository Building at the southwest corner of the building. He is certain this was the southwestcorner and was the corner nearest the triple underpass...A photograph of the Texas State Book Depository Building was exhibited to Rowland and he pointed out a window on the sixth floor at the southwest corner of this building as being the place where he had seen this person." (3-10-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 2H165-190) (On the man in the southwest window) "I noticed on the sixth floor of the building that there was a man back from the window, not hanging out the window. He was standing and holding a rifle, This appeared to me to be a fairly high-powered rifle because of the scope and the relative proportion of the scope to the rifle, you can tell about what type of rifle it is. You can tell it isn't a .22, you know, and we thought momentarily that maybe we should tell someone but then the thought came to us that it is a security agent. We had seen in the movies before where they have security men up in windows and places like that with rifles to watch the crowds, and we brushed it aside as that, at that time, and thought nothing else about it until after the event happened." (When asked to point out which window on a photo) "This was very odd. There were this picture was not taken immediately after that, I don't think, because there were several windows, there are pairs of windows, and there were several pairs where both windows were open fully and in each pair there was one or more persons hanging out the window. Yet this was on the west corner of the building, the sixth floor, the first floor - second floor down from the top, the first was the arched, the larger windows, not the arch, but the larger windows, and this was the only pair of windows where both windows were completely open and no one was hanging out the windows, or next to the window. It was this pair of windows here at that time...." (When asked to estimate his distance from the window) "150 feet approximately, very possibly more. I don't know for sure." (When asked to describe the rifle) "In proportion to the scope it appeared to me to be a .30-odd size 6, a deer rifle with a fairly large or powerful scope." (When asked to further describe the man) "He was rather slender in proportion to his size. I couldn't tell for sure whether he was tall and maybe, you know heavy, say 200 pounds, but tall whether he would be and slender or whether he was medium and slender, but in proportion to his size his build was slender." (When asked the man's race) "Seemed, well, I can't state definitely from my position because it was more or less not fully light or bright in the room. He appeared to be fair complexioned, not fair, but light complexioned, but dark hair...I would say either a light Latin or a Caucasian." (When asked if he observed anything about his hair) "No; except that it was dark, probably black...It didn't appear as if he had a receding hairline but I know he didn't have it hanging on his shoulders. Probably a close cut from - you know it appeared to me it was either well-combed or close cut." (When asked about his clothes) "He had on a light shirt, a very light-colored shirt, white or a light blue or a color such as that. This was open at the collar. I think it was unbuttoned about halfway, and then he had a regular T-shirt, a polo shirt under this, at least this is what it appeared to be. He had on dark slacks or blue jeans, I couldn't tell from that I didn't see but a small portion... (When asked if he formed an opinion as to the man's age) "This is again just my estimation. He was - I think I remember telling my wife that he appeared in his early thirties. This could be obscured because of the distance, I mean..." (When describing the shooting) “it was proceeding down Elm when we heard the first of the reports. This I passed off as a backfire, so did practically everyone in the area because… practically everyone in the vicinity started laughing… Then approximately 5 seconds, 5 or 6 seconds, the second report was heard, 2 seconds the third report. After the second report, I knew what it was…I knew it was a gun firing.” (4-13-64 Warren Commission memo by Stern and Ely on a 4-7-64 discussion with Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz) "Captain Fritz reported that Rowland's mother had called him to inform him that her son is entirely unreliable." (Appearance on CBS News program The Warren Report, broadcast 6-25-67) (On the man in the southwest window) "I just lookin' around and I noticed a man up in the window, and I remarked to my wife, tried to point him out. And remarked that he must be a security guard or a Secret Service agent." (When asked to clarify that this was a window on the opposite end of the building from the front entrance) "Yes, it is on the other side of the building. And he had a rifle. It looked like a high-powered rifle because it had a scope which looked, in relation to the size of the rifle, to be a big scope." Analysis: although he adjusted his overall time, the relative gaps in Rowland’s scenario are consistent. The last two shots were bunched together. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Above: Arnold Rowland points out the window where he saw a man with a rifle on 11-22-63. Although the Warren Commission went to great lengths to discredit Rowland, to the extent even that they brought his wife Barbara in to testify that he sometimes exaggerated his accomplishments, she apparently believed her husband, for here she is, 3 years after providing such damaging testimony, standing by her man in a 1967 CBS News Special.
Barbara Rowland (11-22-63 statement to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, 24H224) “We had taken a position at the side entrance of the Sheriff's Office on Houston Street...the President passed…and turned left onto Elm Street and started down towards the underpass when I heard a report and thought it was a backfire then in a few seconds another report sounded and in another few seconds the third report.” (11-22-63 FBI memo on Arnold Rowland and his wife, written by SA Wallace Heitman to SAC Shanklin, found in the Dallas FBI files received by researcher Harold Wesiberg) "Both heard three shots, the second shot following the first by about 8 seconds, and the third following the second by about 3 seconds." (11-23-63 report on Heitman's 11-22-63 interview of Mrs. Rowland, 26H168) “the President's motorcade passed by and headed left onto Elm Street and started down towards the underpass when they heard the three shots, spaced several seconds between each shot." (4-7-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H177-191) “as they turned the corner we heard a shot, and I didn’t recognize it as being a shot, I just heard a sound, and I thought it might be a firecracker. And the people started laughing at first, and then we heard two more shots…the second and third were closer than the first and second…the people generally ran towards the railroad tracks behind the school book depository building, and so I naturally assumed they came from there.” Analysis: while Rowland was asked to testify in order to discredit her husband’s testimony that there were two men on the sixth floor just before the shooting, and she obliged, testifying that her husband had lied about his high-school grades, she nevertheless confirmed his contention that the last two shots were bunched together. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Here, btw, is some more Hughes footage showing the front of the motorcade's procession up Houston.
Lemma Tole (11-22-13 article in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram on Tole's 11-21-13 appearance at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School) "Tole was a 16-year-old high school junior on Nov. 22, 1963, when she and two friends made their way to the Dealey Plaza area to see President John F. Kennedy and his wife, the glamorous Jackie Kennedy in their motorcade. At Sunset High School in the North Oak Cliff area where Tole was a member of the Bisonettes Drill Team, administrators had told students that they were allowed to leave to see the motorcade if they had written permission from their parents. Tole and her friends Jane and Sheila dropped off their permission slips and signed out in the school office before catching a city bus to go downtown. On the bus they talked about where they wanted to stand to get the best chance for a good look at the president and first lady. Someone had left behind a newspaper with a map of the motorcade route. They settled on Houston Street across from Dealey Plaza near the end of the route. The limousine would have to slow down for two turns in the span of a block. They got there and were some of the first people to stake out a spot several hours before the motorcade, set for around noon. “We stood on that curve and nobody was going to get in front of us,” Tole said. They stood on Houston across the street from Dealey Plaza. The old red courthouse building was to their left and the Texas School Book Depository was on their right. As they waited, the crowd and excitement grew. Although they didn’t give up their spot, people behind them crowded in closer as the president’s motorcade approached. “I was excited, my heart was beating fast and here they came with the motorcycles and the secret service men walking beside them,” Tole said. To round the corner, the limo did have to slow down. “As he came around, he looked right at me, smiling,” she said. Then he glanced at his wife, and Tole saw that Jackie Kennedy was gorgeous in her pink suit and pillbox hat. After they passed, the friends turned to one another and were commenting about how great the two looked when it happened. Over the span of six seconds—Tole had her audience count them off with her—they heard “pow, pow, pow.” She was wondering who would bring fireworks there when she saw the reaction of the people across from them along Dealey Plaza. The crowd started pushing and Tole could see the limousine as Jackie Kennedy crawled up on the back of the seat of the convertible to help her husband. A secret service man jumped on the back of the limo to cover the first lady. “We heard people say, ‘He’s been shot! He’s been shot!” she said. Analysis: Tole's recollections are credible in part because they're so vague. Unlike many Johnny-come-lately witnesses, she doesn't claim to have witnessed anything important. While Tole's approximation of the timespan of the shooting is intriguing, it's not enough to say she supports the LPM scenario, or not. Too vague.
Now here's a view of the east side of the plaza from the railroad bridge. From L to R: the grassy knoll, the Texas School Book Depository Building, the Dal-Tex Building, the County Records Building, and the Criminal Courts Building.
Now let's look at the statements of the witnesses who were inside this last building, the Criminal Courts Building, in the courtrooms and offices overlooking the plaza.
Charles Polk Player watched the motorcade from a window of the Criminal Courts Building. (11-22-63 report to Dallas County Sheriff Bill Decker, 19H515) "I watched the motorcade pass on Record Street (Note: I assume he meant Houston) from your office window. After the President's car passed, I started back to my desk. I heard three shots and went back to the window. People were running in all directions." Analysis: Too vague.
Assistant District Attorney Samuel Paternostro (11-23-63 article in the Dallas Morning News) "I went to Judge Henry King's courtroom to watch the motorcade. It had turned and was heading toward the Triple Underpass when I heard a shot. I saw President Kennedy put a hand to his head, and I told myself that he had been shot. Then he fell toward Jackie. She started looking around. I guess she was trying to see where the shot had come from. Then I heard another shot and a man--I'm sure he was a Secret Service agent--rushed forward and threw himself over the back of the car in an attempt to shield its occupants." (1-20-64 FBI report, 24H536) “viewed the presidential parade…from the second floor…with Ruth Thornton…they heard a report or shot…He said he estimated several seconds, possibly four or five more, elapsed between the first report and the second and third reports. He said he observed President John F. Kennedy when he appeared to grab his head and thought at the time he is “well-trained;” then, when the other reports followed in quick succession, he realized that the President had been shot and it was not a practiced action on the part of the President when he fell against Mrs. Kennedy and later into the rear part of the vehicle he was riding in.” Analysis: as Kennedy grabbed at his head with the first shot, there was a first shot hit. That the last two shots were bunched together confirms this. Saw first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Mrs. Rose Clark (1-10-64 FBI report, 24H533) “was with Lillian Mooneyham and Mrs. Jeannette E. Hooker…From the window of Judge Henry King’s court room on the second floor of the court house, she heard the three shots, and it was her impression that the first shot was louder than the second and third shots. She noted that the second and third shots seemed closer together than the first and second shots…she noticed that the president’s automobile came almost to a halt following the three shots before it picked up speed and drove away.” Analysis: while her recollection of the first shot being louder than the others is unique, her recollection that it sounded different than the others is nevertheless informative, as is her contention that the last two shots were closer together. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Lillian Mooneyham (1-10-64 FBI report, 24H531) “Mrs. Mooneyham heard a gunshot and observed President Kennedy slump to the left of the seat of his car. At the time of the initial shot, Mrs. Mooneyham believed that a firecracker had gone off. Following the first shot, there was a slight pause and then two more shots were discharged, the second and third shots sounding closer together. Mrs. Mooneyham observed Mrs. Kennedy climb up on the back of the car…Mrs. Mooneyham estimated that it was a bout 4 ½ to 5 minutes following the shots fired by the assassin that she looked up towards the sixth floor of the TSBD and observed the figure of a man standing in the sixth floor window behind some cardboard boxes.” Analysis: as she saw Kennedy react to the first shot, and heard the last two shots closer together, Mrs. Mooneyham's statements are incompatible with the LPM scenario. Saw first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Mrs. Jeannette Hooker (1-10-64 FBI report, 24H533) “Mrs. Hooker estimated that the President’s car was almost to the R.L. Thornton Freeway when she heard three gunshots. Mrs. Hooker observed Mrs. Kennedy stand up in the Presidential car and observed a man jump on to the back of the car.” Analysis: the report almost certainly should have said “Thornton Freeway sign.” The Thornton Freeway sign was alongside the limousine around frame Z-190 of the Zapruder film. Probable first shot 190.
Robert Reid (1-10-64 FBI report, 24H532) “followed the progress of the Presidential motorcade from the second floor windows of the court house…heard the three gunshots fired and took his eye from the President’s car because he noticed people who were lining the streets were either running or dropping to the ground after the shots were fired.” Analysis: too vague.
Cecil Ault (1-10-64 FBI report, 24H534) “After the presidential car had turned the corner onto Elm Street, Mr. Ault heard three loud reports…the first and second shots sounded to him to be close together and the third shot was spaced more after the second shot, the first two shots sounding close enough to be from an automatic rifle…Following the first shot Mr. Ault noted that President Kennedy appeared to raise up in his seat in the Presidential automobile and after the second shot the president slumped into his seat.” Analysis: as the “rising up” recalled by Ault is most probably Kennedy’s reaction to being hit in the Zapruder film after Z-224, the slumping mentioned by Ault would almost certainly be a reference to Kennedy’s falling over after the head shot. And yet Ault says this was the second shot. As he also remembered the first two shots being close together, and these two shots were five seconds apart, it seems likely he either misremembered, misspoke, or was misquoted in regards to which two shots were bunched together. Even if he remembered the spacing correctly, however, his contention that the first shot hit is at odds with the LPM scenario. Saw first shot hit 190-224. Last shot possibly after the head shot.
Mrs. Ruth Thornton (1-20-64 FBI report, 24H537) “she walked over to a window on the Houston Street side, as the Presidential car drove toward the triple underpass. She said she heard a report which she believed was a car backfiring, until somebody said “That was a shot!” Then she said two more reports followed in quick succession and she observed Mrs. Kennedy as she stood up in the rear seat of the Presidential car just before it was rushed away.” Analysis: the by-now familiar scenario. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
E.R. Gaddy (1-20-64 report, CD 385 p13) "as he was leaving the courtroom he heard three reports or shots; however, he said he went to a window in the courtroom and looked toward the triple overpass just in time to observe the presidential car being driven away at a high rate of speed." Analysis: too vague.
Now, the next few witnesses claimed they viewed the assassination from the County Jail, which was at that time located on the top floors of the Criminal Courts Building.
We're in the Jailhouse, Now
Willie Mitchell (6-27-64 Warren Commission testimony of Stanley Kaufman 15H513-538) "Yes, sir; when I received the notice from the Committee. I had a case styled Lowe versus Mitchell that was in the 44th Judicial District Court and I was representing this, as I say, on behalf of an insurance company, and this boy, Willie Mitchell, a colored boy who we incidentally had a great deal of trouble getting into a defendant's case. He felt that he had already served his term in jail and that he didn't owe any debt to society moneywise or otherwise, and there was a serious question of whether we were going to continue to defend him or whether or not he had any coverage, but notwithstanding that, we did settle his case, and I did get him to come by the office one day for an interview, and in the course of my conversation he let me know that he was in the jail serving a DWI offense at the time the President was killed, and I sat back and forgot about the automobile accident and just let him talk, and he related how all of these prisoners up in jail had been advised by the jailers and that they had read in the newspapers that the President was coming to town, and they looked in the papers and they saw the route, how the President was coming to town, and the jailers told them where and that they were coming and they congregated at this window--I mean--this side of the jail. Apparently they had a good view what took place, and he described to me exactly, and when I say "exactly," he didn't see anyone in that window, but I did tell Mrs. Stroud that I thought it might be helpful to the Commission to know that there were people in jail who saw the actual killing. He described the President as having been hit from the rear and he said there was no question in his mind that the bullet came from the window. He said when the President's head was hit, it was just like throwing a bucket of water at him--that's the way it burst. He said it made him sick and everybody else sick up there. I felt that Mrs. Stroud should know this and would want the Commission to know it for the reason that there seems to have been some question as to what I've read in the newspaper as to whether or not there was more than one bullet and whether or not the bullet came from the back or came from the front. I was a small-arms instructor myself over in China, having been trained in the infantry school in Fort Benning, and I certainly feel I would love to, if I could, volunteer anything that would be helpful to the Commission, and if that information were helpful, I will be glad to get Willie Mitchell's address and furnish it to you. Actually, I don't know who else was in jail. I do know that Willie Mitchell was, and I had even suggested that he get in touch with the Warren Commission, but he just has as many people have this "I don't want to get involved" attitude. I mean, he felt that he had already been too much involved with that DWI and didn't want to get involved with anything else." (Willie Mitchell's observations as presented in The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop, 1968.) "Up in the county jail, Willie Mitchell, known to the deputies as a 'colored boy,' pressed his face against the bars in a silent shouldering battle with other prisoners. They had read in the papers that the motorcade was going to pass here, and some had asked permission to congregate in the big tank on the north side to watch the parade. Mitchell was serving a sentence for driving while intoxicated. He had big eyes and excellent vision...Willie Mitchell, elbowing and being elbowed, kept his hands on the bars and saw the array of citizens on the grass: the pencil line of pedestrians lining Elm Street; the cops pushing cars back and making them disappear against the will of the drivers. Mitchell missed very little." (Later, after the shots were fired.) "The prisoners in the jail strained to see it all. Willie Mitchell, the 'colored boy,' shouted that the President had been hit from behind by a bullet. 'His head burst,' he said, excitedly. 'It was like throwing a bucket of water at him.'" (11-19-78 article in the Dallas Morning News) (Stanley Kaufman, on his appearance before the Warren Commission, and his recommendation they talk to Mitchell and the other prisoners.) "I remember that did occur and it sort of concerned me at the time as to why--if they were trying to find out all these facts--why they didn't go up there and talk to all these prisoners." (The article continues) "On the day of the assassination, Kaufman was representing a county jail inmate, Willie Mitchell. His client 'described to me exactly' what happened when the shots were fired...Mitchell said he 'didn't see anyone in that window' in the depository, Kaufman said. Because he is black, Mitchell probably was on the fifth floor of the then-segregated county jail, which faces Houston Street and Dealey Plaza." Analysis: since Bishop adds in a few details not mentioned by Kaufman in his testimony, it would appear that Mitchell and/or Kaufman was among the dozens of interviews Bishop claimed to perform for his book. Either that or he's totally full of it. Too vague.
Now, seeing as there has been some debate as to what could be seen from the jail, a photo taken from the window presumably used by Mitchell would be of tremendous help. We are in luck, then, that within the Harold Weisberg Archives there is a 1967 photo showing a view from the jail. Here it is:
Bobby Joe Johnson (11-26-75 memo from FBI clerk T. Pat Reed to SAIC Dallas--presumably J. Gordon Shanklin) "On 11-26-75, 10:25 PM, Bobby Joe Johnson...contacted the Dallas FBI office and advised he was incarcerated in the old Dallas County jail on November 22, 1963. Johnson stated he was observing President Kennedy's motorcade as it passed the Texas School Book Depository. Johnson stated that he observed a window located on the west end of the school book depository being raised, a man sticking his head out of the window and also an object appearing to be a rifle sticking out the window. I asked Johnson if he was positive that the window was located on the west end of the building and he stated that he was. Johnson advised that he immediately reported what he had seen to a guard in the Dallas County jail. Johnson stated the guard was Captain Smith...Johnson advised that to his knowledge Captain Smith never reported this information to any law enforcement agency...When asked why he had not come forward with this information earlier Johnson stated that he had been in prison for five years immediately following the assassination and he did not feel that anyone would have listened to him. Johnson further advised that several other inmates in the Dallas County jail had observed above incident but he was unable to furnish any names." Analysis: Too vague.
John Powell (11-19-78 article in the Dallas Morning News) "John L. Powell, an inmate in the county jail at the time of the assassination of President Kennedy, recently told the Dallas Morning News he and others watched two men with a rifle in the 6th floor window of the Texas School Book Depository across the street. When he looked the men were 'fooling' with a scope on the rifle, Powell said...Powell was in a 6th floor cell cater-corner to the 6th floor corner window of the depository...'Quite a few of us saw them...We were looking across the street because it was directly straight across. The first thing I thought is, it was security guards.' Powell, then 17 and in jail on charges of vagrancy and disturbing the peace, said 'maybe more than half ' of an estimated 40 inmates in his cell were trying to look from the windows. The two men in the window across the street 'looked darker' than whites and were wearing 'kind of brownish looking or duller clothes...like work clothes' Powell said. When the shooting started Powell was 'looking down. And then we kind of looked around. And it (depository window) was empty then.'...Powell was located by the news after a tip that resulted from news accounts of (eyewitness Charles) Bronson's film." Analysis: I resisted adding Powell's statements for a long time because I didn't believe his story. But, on closer inspection, I feel he may have been telling the truth as he knew it. After all, he makes no claims of hearing six shots, two each from three different locations, with the last two shots fired from the grassy knoll, or anything equally out of line with what others recalled. There's also the surprising fact he didn't come forward but was instead tracked down. So...maybe?
Further discussion of Mitchell, Johnson, and Powell's value as witnesses. While Gerald Posner, among others, cites as evidence Powell lied a 12-15-64 FBI report written in response to an investigation spurred by a former FBI informant's claim 17 eyewitnesses in the hospital ward of the jail were never interviewed about the assassination, I believe he goes too far. First of all, the FBI report addresses the possibility of a witness viewing the motorcade from a hospital ward on the fifth floor, for colored men, and not a holding cell on the sixth, for white men. Well, the jail went up to the seventh floor and beyond. So...were there cells on the sixth floor? I've found some sources that say yes. I've been unable to find, moreover, the location of the holding cells for white men. So it remains possible there was a holding cell on the sixth floor, and that Powell was in this cell on November 22,1963. Second of all, the FBI report cited by Posner admits one could see the location of the head shot from the fifth floor holding cell (which supports what Mitchell told Kaufman back in '64), but not the school book depository. It then admits there was an adjacent holding cell in the northwest corner of the building that looked right out on the school book depository, but that it was only used Friday nights as a cell for those previously convicted of driving while intoxicated. The report states: "Texas law states any part of a day constitutes a full day's credit on drunk sentences" and notes that those serving sentences for drunk driving could show up late on a Friday night and be released on Monday. Well, assuming, as Posner, that this applied to the white prisoners on the sixth floor as well as the black prisoners on the fifth, is it so unlikely this cell was opened a little early on November 22, 1963? Powell admitted he was arrested for vagrancy and disturbing the peace. If so, he may very well have been serving a three day sentence, and have willingly admitted himself to the cell ahead of those yet to come in, perhaps to get a free meal or two. But no, the report continues: "Holman further advised that (there were) no DWI prisoners in this particular cell at time of assassination." But I don't buy this. This was more than a year before. Methinks he bluffing. This brings us then to my main problem with this 12-15-64 report used by Posner to debunk Powell. And that is this. It states: "On December 14, 1964, Sheriff Bill Decker, Dallas County Sheriff's office, Dallas, Texas, advised that thorough investigation was conducted at the Dallas County Jail immediately subsequent to the assassination and no witnesses to same were located among inmates." Well, this smells to high heaven. It defies belief that the Sheriffs talked to the prisoners overlooking the plaza to find out what they saw. As we've seen, there were a number of witnesses to the assassination viewing from the lower floors of this building who were not contacted by the Sheriff's Dept. "immediately subsequent to the assassination" and who were only brought forward after the FBI followed up on a newspaper article quoting one of these witnesses. So this idea pushed by Decker that his department did a thorough investigation of all the witnesses in the building is clear crappola. That Decker and Chief Jailer Ernest Holman were trying to conceal the possibility someone did see something from the jail becomes apparent, moreover, from reading other parts of the FBI report. After reporting Holman's claim the fifth floor corner cell overlooking the depository would not have been occupied on a Friday afternoon, the FBI report says Holman noted that the window is "very dirty" and that a view from this window would be "distorted." The report then states: "Both Sheriff Decker and Holman pointed out that anyone who would have been confined in hospital section of fifth floor of the jail at time of assassination would have been a mental case and reliability of such person would be highly questionable. Holman noted that it would be a most difficult and time consuming task to at this late date attempt to determine just who was confined in hospital ward at time of assassination." Well, this is a non-sequitur, right? If, as suggested by Decker, the Sheriff's Dept. had spoken to all the prisoners in cells overlooking the plaza, there ought to be a list of these witnesses somewhere in their files. But no. No such list exists. Now here is where Bishop's book comes in. He claimed the fifth floor prisoners asked permission and were allowed to congregate in a cell they normally would not have been occupying. Well this subverts what Holman had told the FBI. Either Bishop knew the layout of the jail and what Holman had told the FBI, and was lying to get around it, or he had interviewed Mitchell and/or Kaufman, and been told the prisoners had been given special permission to view the motorcade from that cell. This second possibility seems the more likely. I mean, it would have been entirely out of character for Bishop to have confronted Mitchell with the FBI's 1964 report claiming the fifth-floor cell with the best view was unoccupied, and there's no reason to believe that if he'd done so Mitchell would have performed an impression of Jon Lovitz's Saturday Night Live "Liar" character, and claimed "Ahh, yes, the cell was unoccupied-- you see, we asked permission to view the motorcade from this cell--yeah, that's the ticket--they gave us permission." In any event, this brings us back to the possibility--which I now consider a probability-- Holman and Fritz lied to the FBI and were trying to cover up that a number of never-interviewed prisoners had actually viewed the shooting. Well, this brings us back to Johnson and Powell...and the inescapable possibility someone saw something from the jail.
In short, it's possible.
Now here is a Hugh Betzner photo showing the limousine mid-block, just as it passed the entrance to the Dallas County jail.
I.C. Todd worked in the Criminal Courts Building. (11-27-63 Dallas County Sheriff’s report, 19H543) “On November the 22nd, 1963 I had come on duty at 9am working the information window at the Dallas County Jail. About 12:15pm the window was closed where I worked and I walked outside and onto Houston Street to view the President's motorcade as it passed. A few seconds after the President's car passed me and had turned the corner of Houston onto Elm Street, I heard what I first thought was a backfire. I heard a total of 3 and after the last two (2), I immediately recognized them as being gun fire. I ran across the street and went behind the the railroad tracks and I did not talk to anyone over there and I helped them get the crowd back.” Analysis: groups the last 2 shots together. Probable first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Jay Watson and Jerry Haynes, WFAA newsmen, claimed they'd been standing in front of the Old Jail when the shots were fired. (11-22-63 live broadcast on WFAA, around 12:45) Jay (after reading an AP news bulletin announcing Kennedy’s been shot): “We were standing on Houston Street between Main and the next street over…We watched the President come by and gave him the applause that is due the office of the President of the United States and as he turned left two or three shots rang out. We thought they were firecrackers until--I thought they did--until the last shot rang out and we heard people screaming…Jerry: "Jay, I remember you said I thought it was a firecracker, or something like that. Then they followed one shot and a second or two later, a gun shot, and then another second..." Jay and Jerry together: "A third shot." Jerry: "And you said the man's been shot at, and then we turned..." Jay: "No, I said 'My God, that's gun shots." (11-22-63 live broadcast on WFAA, around 2:15, while interviewing Abraham Zapruder) Jay: 'We were about a hundred yards away and it sounded like there were three shots. And after the first couple I said 'My God, they've shot the President!'"...At first they sounded like firecrackers. And somebody next to us said they were shooting off fireworks. But then we came to realize they were loud reports." (11-22-63 live broadcast on WFAA, time unknown, as quoted by researcher Don Roberdeau. Note: I hope to someday establish just when this was said.) Jay: "There might have been two blasts at one time." (11-22-64 WFAA program A Year Ago Today) Jay: "We turned to walk away when he got to the corner and started making the turn. And then we heard the first shot." Jerry: "Yes, we were just about right down here on the corner, on the sidewalk." Jay: "We stopped. And then the second shot." Jerry: "And you said 'My God, that's gunfire.' Jay: "I said 'My God, they're shooting at him.'" (Oral History interview of Haynes for the Sixth Floor Museum, 1-23-04) "They turned left onto Elm in front of that building, the school book depository. And I guess we turned to go, and we heard the first shot. And it sounded strange; it was echoes, y'know. And then we heard the second shot. And in our tape, Jay says I said that was a firecracker or something. I can't really remember what we said. And then the third shot, and by then we knew something terrible had happened." Analysis: you gotta love the way Jay corrects Jerry no matter what Jerry says. It's intriguing that the second shot followed the first by a second or two, and that the third followed the second by just a second. It's also intriguing that they described no reaction to the third shot separate from their reaction to the second shot. If it had come 5 seconds later, as proposed in the LPM scenario, it would almost certainly have brought about a separate response. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together. (2X).
The next set of witnesses were in front of the County Records Building, on the south east corner of Houston and Elm.
South by Southeast
Now here is a Phil Willis photo showing JFK passing the jail, and heading for another turn.
Now here is that same area in a photo taken by, believe it or not, James Altgens. Altgens, a middle-aged photographer for the Associated Press, must have eaten his Wheaties that day, as he was able to scamper across the plaza after taking this picture...and take a much-studied photo from in front of the limousine... just after the first shot was fired.
And here is the rest of the Muchmore film showing the JFK limousine and back-up car cruise up Houston. Note the spectators in the distance, in front of the white County Records Building on the right.
Hugh Aynesworth (March-May 1964 account written for the Dallas Morning News, published in the 2013 book JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes.) "I stopped at the corner of Houston and Main. As I looked toward the Texas School Book Depository Building--never dreaming that this would become a legend, only interested in the Hertz clock it held high atop its roof--I spotted a man, I thought, named Maurice Harrell, an assistant district Attorney. I thought I'd walk over and say hello. He was standing out from the crowd at Elm and Houston. By the time I got there, he was gone, moved to another vantage point. Harrell told me later he was standing a block away at the time and that it probably wasn't him I saw. So, by at least a dozen strange quirks of fate, I found myself only a stone's throw away from where a crazed gunman fired three shots really heard 'round the world...A huge Negro woman in a pink dress was all eyes as the first car of the caravan came around the corner. Her screech of 'Here they is' prompted a scramble for position--though the crowds here were sparse compared to those farther uptown or even a block away at Main and Houston Streets...I recall a woman to my left who cried "Isn't she beautiful?" as she got a glimpse of Jackie Kennedy. A murmur of voices spread and said other complimentary things about the first lady, about her "beautiful" dress, her "radiance," and her smile...A motorcycle officer rode by and he strained to look through the crowd as the crowd strained to see past him...Then came the first shot. I looked instinctively at one of the motorcycles to see if it was an exhaust. A woman near screamed. I saw a face look into mine briefly with a lost look, much as mine must have been. Then another shot. This was a shot I knew. I recall darting my eyes to the President's open limousine, now slipping down Elm St. to the viaduct. The president jerked his head. I could not tell if he were looking to see what the noise was, but I recall thinking he was only jerking his head to wave at the people on the other side of the glassy (sic--he almost certainly meant "grassy") slope. His hair seemed to jump up. Later I understood why. Some of the vehicles in the caravan seemed to come to almost a complete stop. Others crept along. I could not tell who was in charge. Then a third shot, clearer now, for I somehow almost expected it. "He's up there," shouted a sickly white-faced woman as she pointed to the overpass. "Over there," sang out another, pointing to the grassy knoll that lines the sides of the parade route."...I found tears in my own eyes, perhaps from excitement--certainly not from understanding, for I still didn't know which way to run, or even, if I should run. The caravan suddenly roared into action, and sped off down and out of sight, en route to Parkland Hospital...Within seconds--it must have been hours in my thoughts--it was pretty well determined that the man who did the shooting was inside the Depository Building." (Article on Aynsworth by Nora Ephron, published in the February 1976 issue of Esquire Magazine) "He was standing catty-corner to the School Book Depository Building when he heard three shots. 'I thought the first one was a motorcycle backfiring,' he says, but by the time I heard the second, I knew what it was." (Profile of Aynesworth in the March 1976 Texas Monthly) "Aynesworth was standing in front of the County Records Building, across the street from the School Book Depository, when the motorcade came down Elm. The President waved. Nellie Connally leaned forward, said something. Then a shot, the President clutched at his throat, the agonizingly slow motion of the car, another shot, then another, and the President's head exploded. In an instant, the President's car was gone, speeding under the triple underpass." (11-20-83 article in the Washington Post) "Near the intersection of Houston and Elm, I chatted with an assistant district attorney I had known for several years...As the presidential car drove by, Gov. Connally and his wife, Nellie, radiated pride. They too had been anxious about Kennedy’s visit, but it appeared that, so far, everything was going beautifully. Both Connally and Kennedy seemed to notice the huge woman waving frantically with one arm, the small child dangling from the other. (Nellie Connally later testified that she had just said, “Well, Mr. President, you can’t say there aren’t some people in Dallas who love you!”) The rest of the motorcade passed by. I could see Sen. Ralph Yarborough sitting to the left of Vice President Johnson and Lady Bird. He had a frozen smile on his face, but he didn’t really look like he was having much fun. Then it hit. A pop, like the backfire of a police motor-cycle. A nearby cop was tensed. A few seconds later, there was a second pop, then a third. Gunfire! “Hey! Hey!” a big man in a cowboy hat shouted, as though he could stop whatever was happening by being assertive. Two or three cops stopped short, then ran in different directions. A motorcycle policeman veered to his right. People started yelling and running. The woman in the pink dress turned, clutched her stomach and threw up on the street...It’s hard to recall the next few minutes. I remember running over to the front of the Depository building and listening to people there tell how they had seen the president shot. I looked at the triple overpass and saw three or four people running along the tracks. That’s where the shots must have come from, I thought." (9-5-93 article in the Dallas Morning News) "Veteran author and newsman Hugh Aynesworth stood in the middle of Elm Street and 'could have hit Oswald with a rock' on that day. He also heard only three shots ring out." (11-21-93 article in the San Antonio News-Express) "'I thought the first shot was a motorcycle backfiring. Actually, if I'd looked up, I could have seen who fired. It was only a few seconds until the second shot, and then I knew. "I looked at the underpass first, because I could see some people starting to run in that direction.' Aynesworth said he then realized the shots had been fired from a window high up in the Texas School Book Depository building. 'My attention was first toward the people who were running and by the time I looked around, he had pulled the gun in after the third shot and gone.'"
(11-21-93 Reporters Remember Conference, as quoted in Reporting the Kennedy Assassination) “I went over to the area around Elm and Houston Streets and was there when the three shots rang out. Three definite shots. Total chaos. I still have trouble putting it all together, how it happened.” (11-22-93 article in the Washington Times) "What I witnessed in the horrible few seconds as he was shot changed my life... I heard what I at first thought was the backfire of one of the police motorcycles veering left as it moved past the Texas School Book Depository... What I had heard were three rifle shots. "Chaos" is not too strong to describe what happened in the next moments. My lawyer friends took off in different directions. I saw two policemen running with guns drawn. Off to my right I saw a public relations man I knew, standing with hands on hips, a perplexed look on his face. Pure agony lined the face of a large black woman holding a child... It must have been a minute or so before I saw two women pointing at a window high in the book depository building." (No More Silence, published 1998, p.21-40) “There was no particular reason why I went to Elm Street other than the crowds were larger along Main Street, two or three deep, and I wanted to get a clearer view. Locating myself in the middle of the street a little toward the curb, had I looked up to my right I could have seen Oswald up there... The first shot I wasn’t sure was a shot. I thought it might have been a backfire from one of the motorcycles since there were several in the vicinity. When you hear one, you listen more closely, and when I heard a second and third very clearly, there was no doubt in my mind that they were shots and that they were from a rifle… Immediately, people started jumping and running and some were throwing their kids down.” (JFK: Breaking the News, 2003) “when I saw a couple of familiar assistant district attorneys standing in front of the jail building near the corner of Houston and Elm, I walked over to join them…I was standing with my lawyer friends maybe 10 feet from the curb. As we watched the big blue Continental glide by—I vividly remember Governor Connally’s grin—a huge black woman nearby burst into shouts… At 12:30 we heard the first loud pop. At first I assumed a nearby police motorcycle backfired.…(Secret Service Agent Roy) Kellerman turned in his seat just as two more shots were fired…” (Interview in film Oswald's Ghost, 2007) "As he goes by, two or three seconds later I hear a pop. I think it's a motorcycle backfire because a motorcycle had just gone by. But then, suddenly, a second or two later another and then another. Three shots." (4-28-11 article by Jim Schutze in the Dallas Observer) "You hear shots ring out, and you don't count how many seconds there are between them." (5-2-12 article on News-Register online.com, reporting on a 4-2-12 appearance by Aynesworth at North Lake College) "'It was amazing, the happiness and the feeling of good will that was in the crowd,' recalled Aynesworth. 'Then all of a sudden BOOM! One shot, but I thought it was backfire from a motorcycle. Then a second and then a third. I then realized it was shots from a rifle. We didn’t know where the fire was coming from or if we’d be next. People were throwing their children to the ground and taking cover. Everyone was scared,' he said." (3-27-13 appearance at the Irving Central Library, video found online) "They made that left turn to go out to the Trade Mart. And then suddenly three shots. Boom Boom Boom." (He says these booms in quick order over about 2 seconds.) "Nobody knew where they came from...You couldn't tell where the shots were coming from." (Interview on BBC Radio program on the 50th anniversary of the assassination, first broadcast 9-1-13) "I, like Mrs. Newman, thought the first shot was a motorcycle backfire, because one had just gone by. And the second shot, I could hear the whine of a rifle. Immediately, everybody was throwing their children down, regurgitating, screaming, crying, running. I didn't know what to do." (November 22, 1963: Witness to History, published 9-3-13) "At 12:30, we heard the first loud pop! At first I assumed a nearby police motorcycle had backfired...Roy Kellerman in the front seat of the presidential limousine heard the pop! And turned just as two more shots were fired." (11-1-13 article by Nigel Richardson in The Telegraph) "When the first shot rang out, he thought it was a motorcycle backfiring – there were plenty of police motorcycles around that day. 'But the second and third shots were very clearly the whine of rifle shots,' he remembers." (Appearance on the Reelz Channel program Killing JFK: 50 Questions Answered, first broadcast 11-5-13) "As the Kennedys went by us, they were happy. They were waving. They were grinning. Then all of a sudden I hear what I think is a motorcycle backfire. And then a couple of seconds later, a shot, and then another shot. Now I'm not a shooter, but I can tell the whine of a rifle. And then it was total chaos." (11-20-13 article by Susan Donaldson James on ABCNEW.Go.com) "I heard what I thought was a motorcycle backfiring, but it wasn't. It was a shot and then two other shots. It was chaos." (11-22-13 Reuters article found in the Chicago Tribune) "Then I heard what I thought was a motorcycle backfiring, only it wasn't - it was the first shot and then in a few seconds, another shot and a third." (11-22-13 appearance on NPR radio program Morning Edition) (On the aftermath of the shooting) "Well, I looked directly in front of me, across Houston Street; and I saw a man jumping up and down, and pointing up to the sixth-floor window up there. I didn't know what he'd known or what he'd seen or anything else, but I knew I had to get to him and find out. And as it turned out, he was the only real eyewitness that saw Oswald in that window."
(Description of the last two shots by Aynesworth in a 2015 Dallas Morning News interactive feature entitled John F. Kennedy Portraits: History Lived) "...Two or three seconds later a second and a third. And I was sure that those two were rifle shots. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a pencil or paper and nothing with me to write on. I knew I had to start interviewing people. People were just in pandemonium, it was just, they were throwing their kids down and covering them, they were screaming, they were crying, but no one knew where to run, ‘cause we didn’t know where the shots were coming from. We didn’t know how many people were shooting. We didn’t know what was going on." (2-17-16 Living History interview with The Sixth Floor Museum) "They moved on down, and five or six seconds later, I heard what I thought was a motorcycle backfire. That wasn't too bothersome. But then later two other distinguishable shots, and I could tell they were rifle shots. And it was chaos...Nobody knew where the shots were coming from." (Interview on the Historyextra website, published 11-21-18) "I went to the corner of Elm and Houston Street, right in front of the Book Depository. It was so exciting. It had been raining that morning but at about 11am the sun came out, and it was a beautiful November day. The crowd was excited. It was something you read about but you never quite get to witness. I stopped and was only there for a few minutes when the motorcade went by me. Seconds later I heard what I thought was a motorcycle backfiring, but it was the first shot. There were three shots. The place went wild. People were throwing their children down, screaming, crying, throwing up. Nobody knew what to do. We did not know who was shooting, or how many shooters there were. I probably would have run, but I did not know where to run to. My reporter instinct kicked in. I saw a man across from me pointing to the sixth floor window, saying “he’s up there.” The man had a hard hat under his arm. I ran to him to talk to him, but he was scared when he found out I was a reporter. In the end two policemen had to force me away." (Interview on the Vic Feazell podcast, broadcast 9-21-20) "I saw a couple lawyers that I knew and I sorta followed them over to Elm Street. That's where I stood--the center of Elm Street...The Kennedys had just passed me--it was about four cars later--and I heard the shots. I wasn't sure if the first one wasn't a car backfiring. And then two others. And I knew they were shots...And I saw this man pointing up to the window--he was right across the street. So I ran to him. And he was the one that described Oswald...He described him perfectly." Analysis: Aynesworth, a career reporter, is not a very credible source of information. He originally claimed he was at Houston and Elm at the time of the shooting, then suggested he was out in front of the jail, a half a block away, then returned to saying he was at Houston and Elm, and then, finally, that he was in the middle of Elm. In 1964, he said he walked towards Elm in search of an assistant district attorney, but did not find him. By 1983, however, he claimed he was chatting with him as the motorcade passed. In 1964, he said that right after the shots two women yelled out that the shots came from places in front of the limo. By 1993, however, he'd taken to claiming two women pointed to the depository building just after the shots. And this slide apparently continued, for, by 2013, these women had morphed into Howard Brennan. Still, Aynesworth said just enough to indicate that the single-assassin theory he’s been standing behind all these years is not exactly solid. His grouping together of the last two shots suggests the last two shots were bunched together. Even more intriguing, his earliest statement indicates that the second shot was the head shot. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together, with the last shot after the head shot.
Now here is a blow-up from the Altgens photo of the limo on Houston. This shows the viewers out front of the County Records Building at Houston and Elm.
And here is that area in the Bell film.
(Note that this image was taken from a slightly different angle. As a guide, then--should you be trying to match up the witnesses in these images--let me tell you that you need to take the tall man with a hat in the middle above, and match him up with the tall man with a hat at right below. It's the same man. Now note the people hanging out the third floor windows of the Records Building. These people appear to be dangling rifle-length objects out the windows. Some have even suggested these were rifles. In any event, rifles or not rifles--I assume these were not rifles--these people should have been questioned. Beyond that they may have been part of a plot--if nothing else, as a deliberate distraction--these people would have had an excellent view of the the sniper's nest window diagonally across the street. And yet none of these people were ever identified or interviewed.)
James Crawford (1-10-64 FBI report, CD329 p.22) “Mr. Crawford estimated that approximately four or five vehicles, including the Presidential vehicle, had turned down Elm when Mr. Crawford heard sounds which at first were believed by Crawford to be the backfiring of an automobile. Mr. Crawford believed these sounds came from one of the cars in the front of the Presidential motorcade which was approaching the Triple Underpass… Mr. Crawford stated that to his best recollection there was a definite pause of as much as 15 to 20 seconds between the first and second sounds, and the second and third sounds came very close together. By the time the sound of the third shot had passed, Mr. Crawford looked around and in looking up at the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository he observed a movement which he described as a movement such as something being withdrawn quickly. Mr. Crawford stated that this movement was in the left side of the sixth floor southeast corner window facing on Elm Street. This window was the only window which Mr. Crawford noted at the time appearing to be open. He noticed that there were boxes close to the window on the inside of the building. Mr. Crawford stated he could describe the movement he observed as light colored, possibly white, and it might have been the reflection of sunlight upon a light colored object. Upon seeing this movement,he immediately remarked to Mary Ann Mitchell, 'If those were shots, they came from that window.' Mr. Crawford said he observed no smoke in or around the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. Mr. Crawford stated the believes the motion he observed in the window was a person, but he could not determine whether it was the figure of a man or a woman because of the sort glimpse he got. He stated he could, therefore, not give a description of what he had observed except that it was a quick white movement made by a figure which he had immediately concluded was a person.” (4-1-64testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H171-174) “I believe there was a car leading the President’s car, followed by the President’s car, and followed, I suppose, by the Vice President’s car, and in turn by the Secret Service in a yellow closed sedan. The doors of the sedan were open. It was after the Secret Service sedan had gone around the corner that I heard the first report and at that time I thought it was a backfire of a car…The second shot followed some seconds, a little time elapsed after the first one, and followed very quickly by a third one. I could not see the President's car...I couldn't even see the Secret Service car, at least wasn't looking for it. As the report from the third shot sounded, I looked up. I had previously looked around to see if there was somebody shooting firecrackers to see if I could see a puff of smoke, and after I decided it wasn't a backfire from an automobile and as the third report sounded, I looked up and from the far east corner of the sixth floor I saw a movement. It was just barely a glimpse." (When asked which window) "That would be the far east window...On the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. I turned to Miss Mitchell and made the statement that if those were shots they came from that window. That was based mainly on the fact of the quick movement observed in the window right at the conclusion of the report." (When asked to describe what he saw) "If I were asked to describe it, I would say that it was a profile, somewhat from the waist up, but it was very quick movement and rather indistinct and it was very light colored. It was either light colored or it was a reflection from the sun. When the gun fas found, or when a gun was found, I asked the question if it was white, simply because if it was a gun I saw, then it was either white or it was reflecting the sun so it would appear white or light colored." (When asked if he saw any boxes) "Yes, directly behind the window, oh possibly three feet or less, there were boxes stacked up behind the window and I believe it was the only place in the building that I observed where boxes were stacked just like that." (When asked if he saw any boxes in the window) "No, I didn't see any. There wasn't any boxes in the window.” Analysis: as the Vice-Presidential back-up car was completing its turn at Z-190, Crawford is not talking Z-160. First shot hit 190. Last two shots bunched together.
Above: another crop from the Altgens photo of the limo on Houston. The young man on the right is almost certainly James Crawford. The young woman in the middle is presumably Mary Mitchell.
Mary Mitchell (1-18-64 FBI report, CD329 p.24) “as the Presidential car passed the curb in front of the Texas School Book Depository, (TSBD), she and her companion heard a loud report or explosion, then, after four or five seconds, there were two more rapid explosions. She said that she and her companion could not see the Presidential car at that time but the crowd became highly excited...She said she exclaimed 'Oh, my God! They've shot the President' and looked up at the TSBD where she observed some boxes in a window on the second floor down from the top of the building. She said she did not observe any person or persons in any of the windows but her attention was directed to a window at the corner facing Elm Street at the end of the building near the Dallas County Jail." (4-1-64testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H175-177) “I was on the corner of Elm and record—I’m sorry, Elm and Houston… diagonally across the intersection from the Texas school Book Depository…Well, the President’s car passed and, of course, I watched it as long as I could see it…after the car turned the corner and started down the hill, I couldn’t see over the heads of the standing men for very long, so then I turned back to watch the other people in the caravan, whatever you call it, and probably about the time the car in which Senator Yarborough was riding had just passed, I heard some reports. The first one—there were three—the second and third being closer together than the first and second and probably on the first one my thought was that it was a firecracker and I thought on the second one I thought that some police officer was after somebody that wasn't doing right and by the third report Jim Crawford had said the shots came from the building and as I looked up there then we realized that if the shots were coming from that building there was bound to have been somebody shooting at the people in the cars." (When asked exactly what Crawford said) "Well, I'm not sure that he said - I think he just said, "Those shots came from that building," just assuming that everybody could have figured out by then that they were shots." (When asked if she then looked at the building) "Yes; I did." (When asked if she saw anyone) "I don't remember. I understand there were some porters that were leaning out of the fifth floor windows but I don't remember whether I saw them or not. I know where I thought he was pointing and where I was looking I couldn't see anybody so I never was sure which window he thought he was pointing to." (When asked if he was pointing) "I am almost sure that he was because I was trying to figure out exactly where he was.” Analysis: while Mitchell cites the car with Yarborough as the last one through the intersection, she would not have known anyone in the back-up car to whom she could make reference. Even if she honestly believed the car with Yarborough was the last car through the intersection before the shots began, however, her description of the last shots being bunched and of the Presidential limo being out of sight at the time of the first shot should make one doubt there was a first shot miss at frame 160. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Mrs. Carolyn Walther (12-5-63 FBI report, 24H522) "Mrs. ERIC (CAROLYN) WALTHER...and another employee, Mrs. Pearl Stringer, ate lunch at 12:00 noon and left the lunch room at about 12:20 PM to go down on the street to see President KENNEDY ride by. They walked out of the front door of the building, crossed the street, and stopped at a point on the east side of Houston Street, about fifty or sixty feet south of the south curb of Elm Street. They stopped next to the curb to await the passing of the President. While standing there, she started looking around, and looked over toward the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) Building. She noticed a man wearing a brown suit and a very dark shirt leaning out a window of the third floor, somewhere about the middle window of the third floor. Shortly after this, a man in the crowd across the street to the west of where she was standing apparently had an epileptic seizure, and an ambulance came by and took the man away. Shortly after the ambulance left, she looked back towards the TSBD Building and saw a man standing on either the fourth of fifth floors, of the window on the south side of the building, which faces toward Elm Street. This man had the window open and was standing up leaning out the window with both his hands extended outside the window ledge. In his hands, this man was holding a rifle with the barrel pointed downward, and the man was looking south on Houston Street. The man was wearing a white shirt and had blond or light brown hair. She recalled at the time that she had not noticed the man there a few moments previously when she looked toward the building and thought that apparently there were guards everywhere. The rifle had a short barrel and seemed large around the stock or end of the rifle. Her impression was that the gun was a machine gun. She noticed nothing like a telescope sight on the rifle or a leather strap or sling on the rifle. She said she knows nothing about rifles or guns of any type, but thought that the rifle was different from any she had ever seen. This man was standing in about the middle of the window. In this same window, to the left of this man, she could see a portion of another man standing by the side of the man with a rifle. This other man was standing erect, and his head was above the opened portion of the window. As the window was very dirty, she could not see the head of this second man. She is positive this window was not as high as the sixth floor. This second man was apparently wearing a brown suit coat, and the only thing she could see was the right side of the man, from about the waist to the shoulders. Almost immediately after noticing this man with the rifle and the other man standing beside him, someone in the crowd said "Here they come." and she looked to her left, looking south on Houston Street, to see the Presidential Party. As soon as President KENNEDY's car passed where she was standing, she and Mrs. SPRINGER turned away and started walking north towards Elm Street. At about the time they reached the curb at Elm Street, she heard a loud report and thought it was fireworks. There was a pause after the first report, then a second and third report almost at the same time, and then a pause followed by at least one and possibly more reports. The noise seemed to come from up in the air, but she never looked up in that direction. When the second report sounded, she decided it was gunfire, so she and Mrs. SPRINGER started diagonally across the street toward the TSBD Building. About the time she got across the street, she heard someone yell that the president had been hit. She stopped a moment and listened to the police radio on a motorcycle, then returned to the building across the street where she works. She returned to her job at about 12:45 PM."
(Late 1966 interview with Lawrence Schiller recounted in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report, published 1967) "I was standing on Houston Street behind the Records Building about twelve feet from the intersection of Elm...I looked up at this building and there was a man and I thought he was in the fourth or fifth-floor window, and he had a gun, and he was holding it. He was pointing the gun down...I saw this man in the window and he had a gun in his hands, pointed downward. The man evidently was in a kneeling position because his forearms were resting on the window sill. There was another man that was standing beside him but I only saw a portion of his body...He was standing partly against...uh, behind the window. You know, only halfway in the window, and the window was dirty and I couldn't see his face up above where the window was pushed up." (When asked how long she watched this man) "Only a few seconds. It startled me, and...then I thought, Well, they probably have guards in all the buildings, so...I...didn't say anything. and just right away someone said, 'Here they come.' And I looked the other way and evidently the car, the first car, was just turning the block from Main Street, down on Houston, and it was a few seconds before the cars came back, before they passed me." (On what happened after they passed) "I heard one shot, and I thought at the time the first shot was a firecracker, and after the last car passed me I started walking back to work, and I had reached the curb, and two more shots, and then a second--two seconds later, one more. It wasn't as loud as the others. But the second and third shots were right together, and then I thought 'Oh, it's gunshots'" (When asked again about the men in the window) "The man that was holding the gun was partially leaning out, just slightly, and he had his forearms on the window and it was not a long rifle. This was a short gun. Not a pistol. I had never seen one like it. The other man was standing beside him, but I could only see a part of his face, and he was dressed in brown...A brown suitcoat was all I could see. Just about this portion. And it didn't look like boxes...(When asked what she meant by the last comment about the boxes) "Well, an agent from the FBI asked me if I thought what I had seen was boxes. And it was not boxes...I did not see any boxes in the building. I saw no boxes at all in the building." (When asked if the FBI seemed interested in what she was saying) "Well, they were interested in if I could identify Oswald and...uh, they were not interested in the other man in the window." (When asked if she could ID Oswald) "No, I could not. Definitely not.." (When asked how many shots she recalled being fired) "I definitely feel that I heard four shots." (When asked why saw was reluctant to talk about the shooting) "It was a terrible thing...if I could have identified the person I would have been glad to have, you know, done so, right away. But since I couldn't and I would not say it was Oswald...I'm not sure." (When asked if she was certain she saw two men in the window) "There's no doubt in my mind there were two men in the window." (Interview with CBS broadcast 6-25-67) (On the men she saw before the shooting) "I looked at this building and I saw this man with a gun, and there was another man standing to his right. And I could not see all of this man, and I couldn't see his face. And the other man was holding a short gun. It wasn't as long as a rifle. And he was holding it pointed down, and he was kneeling in the window, or sitting. His arms were on the window. And he was holding the gun in a downward position, and he was looking downward." (When asked which window this was) "The first statement that I made, I said the man was on the fourth or fifth floor, and I still feel the same way. He was about -- in a window that was just about even with the top of that tree. I saw the man had light hair, or brown, and was wearing a white shirt. That -- I explained to the F.B.I. agents that I wasn't sure about that. That was my impression on thinking about it later. That I thought that was the way the man was dressed." (When asked about the other man) "This other man was wearing a brown suit. And that was all I could see, was half of this man's body, from his shoulders to his hips. (On the shooting) “The President passed us, and he was smiling, and everybody was waving. Then the last of the cars went by, and I heard the shot. I thought it was a firecracker. Then I started back to work, and it was along the curb, and then two shots right together, and then another one. I'm sure there were four shots.” (3-27-68 interview with Barry Ernest recounted in The Girl on the Stairs, published 2011) "Mrs. Walther said she 'heard four shots. And right after the last shot I saw this police officer drop his motorcycle and immediately run into the Depository.' Marrion Baker. She described the sounds as having a definite pause between the first and second shots, then the second and third shots sounded like they were fired 'at the same time.' After that there was another slight pause, and then she heard a fourth shot." (Report on an 8-8-68 interview with Tom Bethel and Al Oser, investigators working on behalf New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison) "Mrs. Walther... repeated essentially the same story as she told the FBI and also told CBS in their special last July... She was standing on the west side of Houston Street and just before the motorcade arrived looked up at the Book Depository and saw two men in an upper floor window of the Book Depository, one of whom was holding a rifle which she described as being considerably shorter than the rifle which Oswald owned and fatter. The second man she couldn't make out any details about as he was standing back from the window a little bit but she emphasized that she's quite certain that this was a man and not, as the FBI had suggested to her, boxes... The man carrying the gun was blonde or light haired and she said that she thinks he was wearing a white shirt, and the other man was wearing a brown suit... Mrs. Walther, at the time of the first shot, was standing in front of the Records Building on Houston Street at the curb. She heard the first shot which she thought was a firecracker. Then she proceeded to the intersection of Elm and Houston Streets, going back to the Dal-Tex Building. As she was stepping off the curb onto Elm Street, she heard a second and third report. She proceeded to the middle of Elm Street, and while in the street, she heard a fourth shot. The fourth shot she stated appeared to be a more muffled and lower sounds opposed to the other three. She then turned and proceeded in the middle of Elm Street to the grassy knoll. She stated that she proceeded this way because everyone seemed to be running towards the grassy knoll area." (2-14-69 testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) (When asked where she was standing) "I was on Houston just off the corner of Elm by the Records Building." (When asked what she saw when she looked at the school book depository) "The first time I looked I saw a man I think in a maroon shirt in the center of the building stand up and later on I saw two men in another building (sic--she means window) and one was holding a gun and the other was standing beside him...The man wearing the gun, I think, was wearing a white shirt, I'm not sure." (When asked how the other man was dressed) "A brown suit coat." (When asked how many shots she heard) “All together I heard four” (When asked what the first one sounded like) “It was a loud popping sound and I thought it was just a firecracker…the last car was passing in front of me when I heard the first shot…The second one I was just stepping off the curb. “ (And the third?) “Almost to the center of the street.” (And fourth?) “In the center of the street.” (And how did they sound? The second? ) “It sounded just like the first one.” (The third?) “The same” (And fourth?) “A little lower…I stopped and said "That is gunshots." (When asked from where she thought these shots were fired) "Somewhere from my right, possibly to the front right." (When asked if that included the depository) "Yes, sir."
(11-19-78 article in The Dallas Morning News) "Standing a few feet from Mrs. Henderson was Mrs. Carolyn Walther, a fellow worker at a dress factory across the street from the book depository. Mrs. Walther looked up at about the same time and also saw two men in an upper-floor window of the depository. One was holding a gun, she said. The gunman was wearing a dark brown suit and the other man had on a light-colored shirt or jacket, she said. Later the FBI 'tried to make me think that what I saw were boxes,' Mrs. Walther said. 'They were going to set out to prove me a liar and I had no intention of arguing with them and being harassed,' she said. 'I felt like I told them all I knew.'" (July-August 1988 interview recounted in American History Illustrated, November 1988) "I had gone out on the street about twenty after twelve...I glanced up at the Depository Building. There were two men in the corner window on the fourth or fifth floor. One man was wearing a white shirt and had blond or light brown hair. This man had the window open. His hands were extended outside the window. He held a rifle with the barrel pointed downward. I thought he was some kind of guard. In the same window, right near him, was a man in a brown coat suit. Then the President's car came by. I heard a gunshot. People ran. Like a fool, I just stood there. I saw people down. I walked toward them, with the thought maybe they were hurt and I could help them. People were running toward the grassy knoll...In all, I heard four shots." Analysis: while most hearing two shots together were referring to the second and third shots of a three shot scenario, Mrs. Walther heard numbers two and three together in a four shot scenario. It’s possible she heard a first shot around frame 190, automatic weapon fire around frame 224, and then a final shot around the time of the head shot. Another possibility is she simply mistook an echo after the head shot for a separate shot. Heard four shots.
Now, should one be wondering if Mrs. Walther could even see into the sniper's nest window from her supposed location, CBS News filmed her position from the sniper's nest as part of their 1967 TV special. Here is what they showed:
Now I'm forced to admit I have a problem with this. For one, CBS filmed down from the sniper's nest with the window all the way open. They should have filmed up from Mrs. Walther's location towards a partially-closed sniper's nest window. For two, they should have placed a row of boxes back behind this window such as was discovered on 11-22-63. They should then have had two men, one leaning out the window, and one standing upwards at his left, assume these positions while the camera was rolling, to see if anything resembling what Mrs. Walther described made sense.
As it is, I think it works. The camera filming downwards does so from the middle of the window, where a stack of three boxes was subsequently discovered. A man standing to the left of this location would be hard to make out, exactly as asserted by Mrs. Walther. The problem is that the height of the boxes by the window compared to the height of the window itself upon discovery would have made it difficult for a man to lean out this window, as described by Mrs. Walther. This suggests, then, that if Mrs. Walther is to be believed, it is with the proviso that 1) these men were crouching when she saw them and 2) the boxes were stacked up after Mrs. Walther last saw these men.
Mrs. Pearl Springer (12-5-63 FBI report, 24H523) (She and Mrs. Carolyn Walther) “walked south on Houston Street on the east side of Houston Street, stopping just south of a sign post. (This sign post is seventeen steps south of the Elm Street curb.)…After the presidential party passed her and turned the corner going west on Elm Street, she heard what she thought was a shot…She recalled that after the first shot, there was a pause, then two more shots were fired close together.” Analysis: as Springer’s recollections confirm the recollections of so many others, her contention that it was shots number two and three of a three shot scenario that were bunched together casts doubt on the accuracy of the statements of her companion, Mrs. Walther. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
TE Moore (1-10-64 FBI report, 24H534) “He was standing at the southeast corner of Elm and Houston and observed the motorcade going by, turning west from Houston onto Elm Street. By the time President Kennedy had reached the Thornton Freeway sign, a shot was fired and Mr. Moore observed the President slump forward in the Presidential car. Mr. Moore heard two more shots fired; however, the President was out of Mr. Moore’s sight when the last two shots were fired.” (No More Silence, p.90-93, published 1998) “There was a highway marker sign in front of the Book Depository, and as the President got around to that, the first shot was fired. As he got down a little further, the second shot was fired, and then I believe as it got further down, a third shot was fired…You couldn’t tell exactly where the shots were coming from, though.” Analysis: Kennedy passed the Thornton Freeway sign circa Z-190. First shot 190-224.
Frank S. Wright (eyewitness account published in the 10-8-78 Dallas Morning News) "As I concluded my tasks, two friends who were Deputy sheriffs suggested we go together to watch the presidential parade. We decided the best vantage point would be facing Dealey Plaza, by the Records Building, before the entourage would turn in front of the School Book Depository building... The applause changed to happy cheers and loud greetings as the president's car approached. I had seen Kennedy before, but not Jacqueline. Whether it was her beauty or her strangely bright colored suit, my eyes found her first. Then I wondered how the president maintained the deep tan he had, following thechief executive's rigorous sched- ule. Both were obviously happy. Their smiles, and, those of the crowds, enhanced the general feeling of festivity. The first "boom" was a surprise and caused me to look skyward, as a spontaneous reaction. In retrospect, I believe I was looking for what would have been an appropriate display of fireworks. I was brought to my senses after the second explosion, because the deputies with me reached for their weapons. After the third distinctive blast, we all ran instinctively across Dealey Plaza - only to see mass confusion surrounding the street. The president's limousine was emitting heavy exhaust as the driver negotiated the curve onto Stemmons Expressway heading at full speed toward Parkland Hospital. People near the Triple Underpass remained stretched or crouched on the ground, ran or simply stood, crying. The president was killed by three, evenly spaced, distinct shots that still ring through my mind. Any speculation of more shots is by people who were not there!" Analysis: Heard three shots. Claims they were evenly-spaced. Otherwise too vague.
Above: Dallas Police Officers Welcome Barnett (L) and Joe Marshall Smith (R) on the evening of 11-22-63. Both appear to be in somewhat of a daze.
The Traffic Cops
There were also three traffic policeman in the intersection…
Edgar Smith (7-17-64 statement to the Dallas Police Department, CD1259, p16) “Between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 12:30 P.M., I remained at my corner checking the crowd and the windows of the Texas School Book Depository for any suspicious activity but did not see any...at approximately 12:30 P.M...I heard the three shots but was unable to determine the location they came from.” (7-24-64testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H565-569) “I heard three shots.I guess they were shots. I thought that the first two were just firecrackers and kept my position and after the third one, I ran down the street there." (When asked what happened next) "Well, ran down Houston Street and then to Elm, and actually, I guess it was a little bit farther over than this, because after they turned the corner I couldn't see any of the cars, there were so many people standing there around the corner...I was under these windows here." (Warren Commission counsel Wesley Liebeler then points out that he's pointing to the county records building) "Yes; a little bit farther down. Anyhow, I couldn't see down there without running over here, and I run down here at the time to see the Presidential car go under the triple underpass at a high rate of speed, and I pulled my pistol out and there was people laying down there and run down the street and that was about all. I thought when it came to my mind that there were shots, and I was pretty sure there were when I saw his car because they were leaving in such a hurry, I thought they were coming from this area here, and I ran over there and checked back of it and, of course, there wasn't anything there. (When asked to verify that he thought the shot came from a little concrete structure in back of the arcade) "Yes, sir." (When Liebeler points out that this was "Toward the railroad tracks there?") "That's true. (And north?) "Yes...I ran down here...And I ran up to here and I couldn't get over so I went back around then." (Liebeler then clarifies "You went farther down Elm Street and right behind this concrete structure here; is that correct?") "And on back into there." (Liebeler adds "And into the parking area behind the concrete structure there") "Yes, and there's where I stayed for an hour or so and after I got around there, they started checking everybody that was going in and out of the - well, I don't know who they was checking because there was so much milling around, because there was a bunch of county officers back there plus the policemen." (No More Silence, p.197-203, published 1998) “It seemed like a short time, maybe ten or fifteen seconds after they had made the turn, that the first shot rang out…I thought it was probably firecrackers…Then the next two occurred. It seemed like a lot of time elapsed between the three shots. I couldn’t really tell where the shots came from, but they sounded like they all came from the same direction. Certainly it didn’t seem to me that they came from the sixth floor…At the time of the shooting, I was looking more toward the grassy knoll…I looked down there and was able to see the Presidential car lurch off…I reacted by running across the street from the south side of Elm toward the underpass.” Analysis: by saying that the shots could have rang out as much as fifteen seconds after the car made the turn onto Elm, Smith implies there was no shot at frame 160. By saying “the next two occurred,” moreover, Smith suggests the last two shots were bunched together. Probable first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Joe Marshall Smith (12-9-63 FBI report, as summarized in CD205 p39) "was working on November 22, 1963, on traffic at Elm and Houston streets. He stated he was near the parking lot when the shots were fired which killed President Kennedy. The shots echoed so loudly he had no idea at the time where they had been fired from. He stated he did smell what he thought was gunpowder but stated this smell was in the parking lot by the TSBD Building and not by the underpass. He advised he never at any time went to the underpass and could not advise if there was the smell of gunpowder in the underpass. He stated he did not see the President when he was shot and stated he saw nothing which would assist in this matter." (12-13-63 article in the Texas Observer, as reported in Six Seconds in Dallas, 1967) "Patrolman Smith had earlier told Ronnie Dugger of the The Texas Observer that he had 'caught the smell of gunpowder' behind the fence. 'I could tell it was in the air.'" (7-16-64 Statement to the Dallas Police Department, 22H600) ”I was standing in the middle of Elm Street from the southeast curb of Elm and Houston Streets at the time of the shooting. I heard the shots and thought they were coming from bushes of the overpass.” (7-23-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H531-539) “Then I heard the shots…I started up toward the Book Depository after I heard the shots, and I didn’t know where the shots came from. I had no idea, because it was such a ricochet." (When asked if he means "echo") "Yes, sir; and this woman came up to me and she was just in hysterics. She told me, “They are shooting the President from the bushes.” So I immediately proceeded up here. (Liebeler asks: "You proceeded up to an area immediately behind the concrete structure here that is described by Elm Street and the street that runs immediately in front of the Texas School Book Depository, is that right?") "I was checking all the bushes and I checked all the cars in the parking lot...I checked all the cars. I looked into all the cars and checked around the bushes. Of course, I wasn't alone. There was some deputy sheriff with me, and I believe one Secret Service man when I got there. I got to make this statement, too. I felt awfully silly, but after the shot and this woman, I pulled my pistol from my holster, and I thought, this is silly, I don't know who I am looking for, and I put it back. Just as I did, he showed me that he was a Secret Service agent...he saw me coming with my pistol and right away he showed me who he was." (When asked if he remembered the identity of this agent) "No, sir; I don't--because then we started checking the cars. In fact, I was checking the bushes, and I went through the cars, and I started over here in this particular section." (Liebeler asks "Down toward the railroad tracks where they go over the triple underpass?") "Yes." (Liebeler then asks "Did you have any basis for believing where the shots came from, or where to look for somebody, other than what the lady told you?") "No, sir; except that maybe it was a power of suggestion. But it sounded to me like they may have came from this vicinity here." Analysis: by the time his statements were taken, Smith knew that officially all the shots had come from the sniper’s nest. He therefore had to explain why he rushed down towards the knoll immediately after the shots. That the other Officer Smith did the same thing is indicative that the shots did sound like they came from west of the sniper’s nest. Too vague. Smelled smoke near knoll.
Welcome Eugene Barnett (11-25-63 interview with William Turner, recounted in Turner's book Rearview Mirror, published 2001) "As the President's motorcade swung past him, he heard a sharp report, like a firecracker. After about three seconds there was another shot. Dealey Plaza reverberated with the sounds. He looked over his shoulder to the roof of the depository but saw nothing. The Secret Service men in a car behind the President's limousine were looking around, unable to fix where the shots were coming from. In what seemed like another three seconds after the second shot, a third sounded. (7-16-64 statement to the Dallas Police Department, 22H598) “When the shots were fired, I looked up and could not see anyone or anything extending out of the windows. I thought the shots were coming from top of the building.” (7-23-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H539-544) “I didn’t hear any echo. The whole sound echoed. The sound lingered, but as far as just two definite distinct sounds, when each shot was fired that one sound would linger in the air, but there would be nothing else until the next shot…I was looking at the President when the first shot was fired, and I thought I saw him slump down, but I am not sure, and I didn’t look any more then. I thought he was ducking down….I thought it was a firecracker. But none of the people moved or took any action…And when the second shot was fired it sounded high…I looked up at the building and I saw nothing in the windows. In fact, I couldn't even see any windows at that time...because I was standing too close, was the reason. And I looked back again at the crowd, and the third shot was fired. And I looked up again, and I decided it had to be on top of that building. To me it is the only place the sound could be coming from...I ran to the back of the building." (When asked if this meant running north on Houston Street) "Yes, sir...I didn't get close to it, because I was watching for a fire escape. If the man was on top, he would have to come down, and I was looking for a fire escape, and I didn't pay much attention to the door. I was still watching the top of the building, and so far as I could see, the fire escape on the east side was the only escape down.” (11-20-13 appearance at the Sixth Floor Museum) (When asked if he heard three shots) "Three shots." (11-22-13 article in the Plano Star Courier on Barnett's appearance at the Sixth Floor Museum) "Barnett was working crowd control on the corner of Elm and Houston streets as the presidential motorcade turned toward the freeway. That’s when he heard three gun shots ring out, his sergeant screaming the shooter was inside the building a few yards from him. Near tears, Barnett told a captivated audience of news crews from around the world how he first thought the shooter was on the roof. His regret was painfully obvious. “I didn’t do the right thing,” he said. “I let the man who shot the president walk out the front door.” Analysis: as Kennedy does not duck down between Z-160 and Z-190, the movement Barnett saw after the first shot could only be a reaction after Z-190. Probable first shot hit 190-224.
The Running Man Mystery
Now here's a curiosity. As captured in this gif put together by the inimitable Gerda Dunckel, a man can be seen running down Elm Street in the background of the Bell film. While one might presume he was simply running up to the corner to get a glimpse of the President, one can't know this for certain.
In fact, when one looks into this a bit, it gets more than curious, it gets suspicious...
Now ask yourself...was the running man in the Bell film wearing a black raincoat?
And no, this wasn't just something drummed up by a bored reporter. The bona fides of this story were confirmed by one of Vice President Johnson's bodyguards, Jerry Kivett. Here's Kivett in his statement on the events of 11-22-63 (18H777): "Approximately three minutes before the assassination, in the very downtown part of Dallas, I observed a young white male approximately 21 years old, running toward the Presidential car. As he got alongside the Presidential follow-up car, SA Ready, who was working the right front running board, jumped down from the follow-up car and forcibly shoved this individual back into the crowd."
So, yikes... It's possible someone was trying to warn JFK about something, and that this individual got pushed back into the crowd on Main Street, and then ran up to Elm in hopes of catching JFK at the corner of Houston and Elm... but was just a wee bit late.
Now, here's a deeper dive into the mystery. The only witness we know of who was running down Elm towards Houston at the time this person was running down Elm was James Powell, a supposedly off-duty 24 year-old Army Intelligence officer discussed in the last chapter. While Powell claimed he was a half block east of Houston when the first shot rang out, and the man in the Bell film would have already reached Houston by the time the first shot rang out, that might be just a quibble.
I mean, take another look at the running man. Could this man be a 24 year-old Army Intelligence Officer? Hmmm...
And here, thanks to the dogged work of researcher Linda Zambanini, is James Powell's high school yearbook photo...
Now, here's Powell's memo on his activities. (Note: this was never provided the Warren Commission. Note also that I found this online in a post by Bill Kelly. )
MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD
POWELL, JAMES W. Special Agent, 112th INTC Group, 912 Rio Grande Building, Dallas, Texas, reside at 4049 Herschel Ave, Apartment 5, Dallas. On 22 November 1963, at approximately 1225 hours, I was standing at the corner of Austin Street and Main Street, Dallas, where I had just taken a picture of the late President John F. Kennedy and his wife as they passed in the motorcade. Hoping to get one more picture, I ran one block back to Elm Street, and down Elm towards the intersection of Elm Street and Houston Street. As I approached this intersection, at approximately 1228 hours, and was about one block away, Kennedy’s motorcade was just turning West off Houston Street. At this point, I heard at least two loud explosions, which I assumed could either have been shots from a firearm or some sort of fireworks. Several people in the crowd, which was at the intersection to view the motorcade as it passed, pointed up at the Texas School Book Depository (TSBDB), 411 South Elm Street. I took a photograph of the building at that instant. Several policeman, men from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, and newspapers and television reporters, were rushing toward the railroad switching yard behind the TSBDB. I followed them in order to learn what had happened. One of the television reporters, whose name I did not get, said that he heard that someone had fired a gun at Kennedy. I rushed back to the TSBDB, through the lobby, and into the first-floor office. There I heard Pearce Almond (phonetic), a newscaster fro WFAA Television Station, Dallas, who was telephoning his office. Almond said that he heard that Kennedy had been fired at and hit, and that the shots may have come from the TSBDB. Almond had just talked with a construction worker supposedly witnessing the accident. I went upstairs to the second floor and telephoned my office. I reported what I had heard to Let. Col. Roy H. Pate, Region Commander. I then returned to the first floor, where I met and interviewed the aforementioned construction worker, an employee of Wallace Beard, Oil and Gas Building, Dallas. I did not have time to get the man’s name because the Dallas Police had to talk to him. I was able to learn from this man that he saw someone fire shots from approximately the sixth floor of the TSBDB, and that one of the shots hit Kennedy. This man said that Kennedy grabbed his chest and slumped forward, as the motorcade continued towards Stemmons Expressway. Kennedy’s wife, the man told me, attempted to jump out of the car. This was all the information I was able to obtain from this source. I rushed to the same telephone I had previously used and called my office to report this information. When I returned to the lobby of the TSBDB, I was met by policeman and men from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, some of whom were carrying shotguns. I identified myself with my credentials, but, along with everyone else in the building, I was detained. One of the law enforcement officers telephoned my office in order to further verify my identity. I gave them my name, the fact that I am a special agent with the United States Army Intelligence Corps, my business and home addresses, and my business and home telephone numbers. I was not allowed to leave the lobby of the building at that time. It was then approximately 1300 hours. I was released at 1345 hours and returned to my office.
James W. Powell
22 November 1963
Now, ain't that something? Powell admitted running from Main up to Elm and then on down to Houston, and a man in a dark raincoat was seen running along Main, and then later along Elm near Houston.
It seems probable, then, that the running man was either Powell himself, or, at the very least, someone being chased by Powell.
If this running man was Powell, moreover, well, it seems clear he knew something was up and that he was trying to intervene.
(My research in this area continues... Photos of Powell in the plaza or school book depository should prove helpful.)
Alright, alright, here's another crop from the Altgens photo of the limo on Houston. (This photo is known as Altgens 5.) This shows the crowd on the east side of Houston and Elm, in the street and in front of the Dal-Tex Building, as viewed from a location on Houston Street. That's Officer Welcome Barnett in the street.
And here are some of these same witnesses in the photo taken by Altgens moments later, when looking back at this intersection from Elm Street. This photo is called Altgens 6.
North by Northeast
Curiously, only three witnesses on Houston to the north of Elm have ever come forward.
Mrs. Ruby Henderson (11-28-63 FBI lead sheet found in the Weisberg Archives) "On 11/28/63, a woman identifying herself as Mrs. Tony Henderson telephonically contacted the Dallas office...She stated that prior to the presidential motorcade passing the corner of Elm and Houston Streets, she had been down in the street with other persons from the building. She stated that she had been out in the street itself off the curb in an attempt to see better and that as she waited for the motorcade to approach, she had glanced up at and behind her and had seen people at the windows in her own building and had seen people also at open windows in the building of the Texas Book Depository. She stated that she had noticed quite a number of people at the windows on the third floor of the Texas Book Depository building and that it had not occurred to her until yesterday that she had seen two men standing in what she was certain was the corner window facing Elm Street on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Building. She stated she now recalls that she thought at the time that the two men standing there would have a bird's eye view of the entire scene. She stated also that the thought occurred to her that the men were not standing out actually prominent in the window, She said she had wondered why they were standing back a little. She stated that she was certain one of the men had on a white shirt, and she thought the other man, who was somewhat shorter, was wearing a blue shirt, or at least it was a dark shirt. When queried as to why she could see into the sixth floor window when she was standing east of the building, she stated that she had been standing far enough out in the street that she could easily observe that window. Mrs. Henderson advised that small items were coming back to her such as when the second shot was fired she saw what she thought was paper flying out of the presidential limousine and she now realizes it must have been flesh or bone." (12-6-63 FBI report based upon a 12-5-63 interview, 24H524) “On November 22, 1963 at approximately 12:15 PM she was standing on the east side of Elm Street just north of Houston Street awaiting the passing of the Presidential Motorcade at that site. She said shortly after she arrived at this location, and just prior to the arrival of the motorcade, she recalls an ambulance arriving and departing the area to pick up an individual whom she understood had an epileptic fit. Mrs. HENDERSON said after the ambulance departed the area, she heard a woman in the record building located on the southwest corner of Elm and Houston, yell "Yeah, Woodman." which is a Dallas High School, and she looked in the direction from which the yell emanated. She said she thereafter swung around and looked in the building in which she works, the building located on the southeast corner of Elm and Houston, and thence around to the Texas School Book Depository Building. She said she observed numerous people on various floors looking out of the windows of the Texas School Book Depository Building, and recalls that she saw two men on one of the upper floors of the building. She said she recalls one of the men had on a white shirt and one had on a dark shirt. She said she only observed these men from the waist up and she does not know what their other attire consisted of. She said these men were standing back from the window and she got the impression they were working and yet looking out the window in anticipation of the motorcade passing that building. She said she saw these men before the motorcade reached Houston and Elm, but doesn't have any idea how long it was prior to the motorcade arriving at that location. She says she believes the person in the white shirt had dark hair and was possibly a Mexican, but could have been a Negro as he appeared to be dark-complexioned. She said she couldn't describe the other person other than the fact he was taller than the aforementioned individual. Mrs. HENDERSON said at the time the motorcade passed where she was standing, she heard what she initially thought was a firecracker and saw what she thought was paper fly out of the Presidential car. She said she now realized it was a shot she heard and what she thought was paper was probably flesh. She said after the first shot, she believes she heard two more in rapid succession, and then a fourth shot. Mrs. HENDERSON said after the shooting she stood transfixed for some time before returning to work. She said she returned to her place of employment at approximately 12:43 PM. Mrs. HENDERSON said she became extremely upset and nervous after the President's assassination and it was necessary for her to take the following Monday off her job. She said she hesitated to mention anything about her observations but felt she should relate same as they might possibly be of some benefit. Mrs. HENDERSON reiterated she could not definitely state one of the men she saw in the window of the Texas School Book Depository was not a Negro. She said she does not know what floor of the building the men were on, but doesn't recall seeing anyone on a floor higher up than the one they were on. (11-19-78 article in the Dallas Morning News) "Across the street from Fischer and Edwards, at the northwest (sic--northeast) corner of Elm and Houston near the base of the depository, Mrs. Ruby Henderson also saw two men at the window. 'One of them had dark hair...a darker complexion than the other,' Mrs. Henderson said. She said she saw no gun, but 'they weren't close enough to the window to be able to know if they were holding anything.'"
Analysis: Henderson's recollection of seeing two men in the sniper's nest window was, of course, quite problematic for the FBI and Warren Commission. It's probably not a coincidence, then, that the lead sheet never sent the Warren Commission said she was certain she saw two men in the sixth floor window, while the report on the official interview, sent over to the commission weeks later and included in its records, said only that she saw these men on one of the upper floors. And that's not the only suspicious change. While the original lead sheet indicated that she thought the man wearing the white shirt was taller than the man in the dark shirt, this was reversed for the report sent the Warren Commission. This is most convenient in that Bonnie Ray Williams wore a dark shirt, and that Harold Norman, who stood next to him on the fifth floor, was both shorter than him and wearing a light-colored shirt. The possibility exists, then, that her words were changed to make it seem as though she were describing Norman and Williams. That Henderson recalled hearing four shots with two bunched shots in the middle, is, of course, also problematic. Carolyn Walther was standing nearby and described the shots in the same manner. Were there two quick shots fired at frame 224 but unheard by most everyone else? Or was there a shot fired after the bangbang of the head shot, even as the limousine was speeding away? Who knows? Second shot head shot? Heard four shots?
Mike Brownlow is an assassination researcher and a regular presence in Dealey Plaza. He claims also to have been a witness. In November 2004, and again in November 2005, I talked with him in Dealey Plaza and asked him where he was when the shots rang out. Both times he told me he was standing in front of the Dal-Tex Building on the northeast corner of Houston and Elm with his grandmother. Both times he said he heard four shots, but could not tell where they came from. (2006 appearance in a Dutch TV program hosted by Peter R de Vries, as found on youtube) "Where you see the three overhead road signs, that is where the first shot hit the president, in my opinion. And you must remember I was a kid at the age of twelve years old. But right in that area is where the first shot hit the president. And when we heard the first shot, which sounded very much like a firecracker, or a very dense shot. The second shot, in my opinion, that we heard, was a little louder. Then there was a pause, and we heard three more shots. I heard three more shots. By the time the President was hit in the head, to where we were standing, we could not see that. I did not see the actual head shot. But we heard the shots, and we saw a puff of smoke come from the corner of the fence, which is where we're standing now, known as the grassy knoll. (12-6-11 article by Jay Gibbs on researcher Bruce Engelman, found on the Starlocalnews.com website) "Engelman, who has worked for several national news organizations, including ABC, has a national sports talk show that he records every Tuesday night. Last Tuesday, however, he had a special guest in his recording studio -- Mike Brownlow of Dallas. Brownlow was a 13-year-old kid who was near the Grassy Knoll in Dallas when JFK was shot. "I heard one shot and then, immediately after that, I heard a second shot," Brownlow said. "Then, after that, I heard several shots in succession -- POP! POP! POP! Then, in a matter of five or six seconds, it was all over. The shooting had stopped. And I definitely think that the last shot I heard came from the Grassy Knoll." Analysis: As a number of other witnesses near this intersection also heard four shots, I initially believed Brownlow’s story to be credible. In 2010, however, the nephew of a Dallas Police Officer Brownlow claims to have known contacted me and assured me that Brownlow had never actually known his uncle, and is lying when he claims he did. The report on Brownlow's radio appearance is also problematic. It suggests that Brownlow is now claiming there may have been five shots, and that the last one came from the knoll. In Brownlow's defense, however, it should be pointed out that he said he thinks the last shot came from the knoll. This is not the same as claiming he'd initially thought it came from the knoll. Heard four (or five?) shots. Last shots bunched together. Saw smoke on the knoll.
Hank Stanton is yet another late-arriving witness. He wrote a 1999 article on the assassination, in which he claimed he'd watched the motorcade from the second floor of the Dal-Tex Building. (Stanton-penned article in the November 1999 issue of Texas Co-op Power Magazine) "And then the cars are on Elm Street, a few feet past the Texas School Book Depository, and--my head whips around, towards the grassy knoll, because suddenly it sounds as if a number of firecrackers are exploding in my right ear. A fraction of a second later, almost all of the spectators that line each side of Elm Street have hit the ground, and I realize that they are all lined up, like magnetized file shavings, in the direction of the grassy knoll. And then I notice that the Secret Service men have bolted down out of their automobile, are piling themselves atop the occupants of the lead convertible and both cars are burning rubber as they race towards 1H-35." Analysis: Stanton thought the cars were past the depository when the first shot was fired. This is inconsistent with a first shot circa 160. First Shot 190-224.
Now, to be honest, I don't really believe Stanton. The only second-floor windows with a view down Elm from the Dal-Tex were captured in James Altgens' famous photo of Kennedy after the first shot. Here they are:
Well, outside the guy on the stairs, those appear to be women, right?
Well, the scene has now been set. We’ve looked at the statements of 70 witnesses along the south and east sides of the Plaza, with no deliberate omissions. 28 of these witnesses failed to tell us much about the impact of the shots or how they were spaced. This leaves 42 witnesses whose statements can help us figure out what happened. The statements of 35 of these witnesses suggest that the first shot hit and the last 2 shots were bunched together. 2 of the remaining 7 made statements indicating the first shot was heard at frame Z-190 or afterward. Of the remaining 6, 1 could only swear to hearing two shots, 1 heard a shot after the head shot, 1 recalled no pause between the second and third shots, 1heard 4 shots, and the last heard 6 shots. There is therefore but 1 witness whose statements remotely suggest the LPM scenario, the favored scenario of today's crop of single-assassin theorists. This witness is Eugene Boone, and his statement suggesting the scenario, in which he contradicted his testimony before the Warren Commission, was not obtained until 1986, after being contacted by Vincent Bugliosi for a TV show. And he--assuming he actually said what Bugliosi claims he said--reversed himself later. Thus, there is literally no credible support for the popular LPM scenario of a first shot miss, a 3 ½ second pause, a second shot, a 5 second pause, and then a head shot, when one looks at all the statements of these eyewitnesses. Surprisingly, there is more eyewitness support for a third shot miss after the head shot—5 witnesses so far—then there is support for a first shot miss—0 witnesses so far. With these numbers in mind, we can begin to look at the motorcade witnesses and try to determine not just how many shots rang out, but which shots struck who, when. We can also reflect on the rather shocking fact that the so-called defenders of the Warren Commission, beginning with CBS News in 1967, have insisted the first shot missed, thereby disregarding the statements and testimony of the majority of the witnesses, in favor of a convenient interpretation of the statements of but one or two witnesses, and a convenient interpretation of the Zapruder film. It is the purported role of the media to expose such deception, not sell it. Then why haven’t any of CBS’ competitors exposed them on this? Professional courtesy?