Chapter 5b: Primary Pieces
Chapter 5b: Primary Pieces
Those in the position to know...
Let us now follow the Kennedys and Connallys as they embark in Dallas and begin a leisurely motorcade...
Above: the limo a bit later, near the beginning of the motorcade. Note that here, as above, Governor Connally is sitting right in front of Kennedy, and is not sitting significantly inboard of Kennedy (as some would later claim)--with his head in front of Kennedy's left shoulder.
Now here is a gif taken from the Jefferies film. This shows the occupants on the left side of the limo. That's William Greer driving the beast, and First Lady of Texas Nellie Connally in the jump seat in front of Mrs. Kennedy.
Now here, unfortunately, is the motorcade on Elm Street, as filmed by Mr. Abraham Zapruder.
We shall now take a deep-dive into the carnage above...
Movements and Reactions
The principal piece of evidence used by single-assassin theorists to support the LPM theory (the afore-mentioned theory the first shot missed Kennedy circa frame 160 of the Zapruder film, a second shot struck both Kennedy and Governor Connally, and a third shot struck Kennedy on the back the head) is the Zapruder film itself. These theorists claim that the reactions of those observed in the film, when matched up to the testimony of these witnesses before the Warren Commission, are clear-cut evidence for a first-shot miss. They also claim that an analysis of the jiggles apparent in the Zapruder film supports that this first shot miss was between frame 150 and 160. A miss at so early a point in the film, not coincidentally, provides a more than three second gap between the first and second shots, which, also not coincidentally, allows Oswald plenty of time to re-aim.
What these theorists won’t tell you, however, is that the biggest jiggle or blur of the Zapruder film prior to Connally being wounded at frame 224 is not between frames 150 and 160, but between frames 190 and 200. The jiggle or blur at this time, in fact, is far greater than the jiggle or blur apparent after the shot striking Connally at frame 224, so much so that the HSCA would come to conclude that only two jiggles could “reasonably be attributed to the photographer’s startle reaction to the sound of gunshots” --one at 189-197 and one at 312-334. When one matches up Figure II-5 from the HSCA report of William Hartmann with a chart created by researcher Don Roberdeau reflecting the head turns of the Kennedys and Connallys, moreover, one finds that although all four of them turn to the right shortly before or after frame 160, President Kennedy alone jerks his head back to the left after frame 190. This suggests he was hit at this point.
A discussion of the witnesses, and whether their testimony indicates a first shot miss at frame 160 or a first shot hit at frame 190 (or later), follows…
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy sat to the left of her husband. (11-29-63 interview with Theodore White, notes released 5-26-95, and subsequently published in the September 1995 Kennedy Assassination Chronicles) “They were gunning the motorcycles; there were these little backfires; there was one noise like that; I thought it was a backfire. Then next I saw Connally grabbing his arm and saying no no no nonono, with his fist beating—then Jack turned and I turned—all I remember was a blue gray building up ahead, then Jack turned back, so neatly; his last expression was so neat; he had his hand out, I could see a piece of his skull coming off; it was flesh colored not white—he was holding out his hand—and I can see this perfectly clean piece detaching itself from his head; then he slumped in my lap.” (When describing the immediate aftermath of the shots) "All the ride to the hospital, I kept bending over him saying, "Jack, Jack, can you hear me, I love you, Jack." I kept holding the top of his head down trying to keep the..." (When describing her husband's condition upon arrival at the hospital) "From here down"--and here she made a gesture indicating her husband's forehead--"his head was so beautiful. I'd tried to hold the top of his head down, maybe I could keep it in...I knew he was dead." (Note found among White's type-written notes on his 11-29-63 interview with Mrs. Kennedy, as reported in the 5-28-95 Boston Globe) "I have left out of my transcript one or two matters so delicate I could not commit to paper." (11-29-63 interview with Theodore White as presented in The Making of the President 1964, published 1965. Although White, in his foreword, acknowledged the help of another motorcade witness, Malcolm Kilduff, it's clear his account was built at least in part upon his interview of Mrs. Kennedy.) "He had just turned easily, but with grace and precision as was his style, to wave at the Texans who cheered--when the sound rapped above the noise. It was a blunt crack, like a motorcycle backfiring (which is what his wife thought it was), followed in about five seconds by two more; then, suddenly, the sniper's bullets had found their mark and John Fitzgerald Kennedy lay fallen, his head in his wife's lap." (4-7-64, 5-4-64, 5-7-64, 5-8-64, and 7-20-64 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Jacqueline Kennedy believed it was a motorcycle noise." (On Connally's screaming) "Jacqueline Kennedy heard him. In a daze she wondered 'Why is he screaming?' Already she had started to turn anxiously to her husband." (On the final shot) "The First Lady, in her last act as First Lady, leaned solicitously toward the President. His face was quizzical. She had seen that expression so often, when he was puzzling over a difficult press conference question. Now, in a gesture of infinite grace, he raised his right hand, as though to brush back his tousled chestnut hair. But the motion faltered. The hand fell back empty. He had been reaching for the top of his head. But it wasn't there any more." (Manchester's narration for the immediate aftermath of the shots) "Leaning toward her husband Jacqueline Kennedy has seen a serrated piece of his skull--flesh-colored--not white--detach itself. At first there is no blood. And then, in the very next instant, there is nothing but blood spattering her, the Connallys, Kellerman, Greer, the upholstery, Clint running up behind, the curb alongside." (4-7-64, 5-4-64, 5-7-64, and 5-8-64 interviews with Manchester, as recounted in a 5-19-64 meeting of Manchester with Warren Commission attorney Howard Willens, and reported in Willens' personal journal) "We discussed the problem of taking the testimony of Mrs. Kennedy. He said that she had talked to him at great length about the assassination and the subsequent events and was on tape regarding these matters. Apparently she made a variety of very frank comments about people in the course of her recollections. Mr. Manchester said that she had expressed great interest in the newspaper reports to the effect that she was going to be called before the Commission. I told him precisely what the situation was on this matter. He indicated that she really had very little to contribute. He states that she was looking away from the President at the time of the first shot and turned only when she heard the Governor squeal. According to Mr. Manchester she then turned and saw the President get hit in the head and fall over onto her. She does not remember climbing out of the car onto the back." (6-5-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 5H178-181, with words deleted from the Warren Commission's transcript only to be re-discovered by Harold Weisberg and Mark Sobel presented in bold) “the car was very slow and there weren’t very many people around…I was looking to the left. I guess there was a noise, but it didn’t seem like any different noise really because there is so much noise, motorcycles and things. But then suddenly Governor Connally was yelling, “Oh, no, no, no”…I was looking this way, to the left, and I heard these terrible noises. You know. And my husband never made any sound. So I turned to the right. And all I remember is seeing my husband, he had this sort of quizzical look on his face, and his hand was up, it must have been his left hand. And just as I turned to look at him, I could see a piece of his skull sort of wedge-shaped, like that, and I remember that it was flesh colored with little ridges at the top. I remember thinking he just looked as if he had a slight headache. And I just remember seeing that. No blood or anything. And then he sort of did this (indicating), put his hand to his forehead and fell in my lap. And then I just remember falling on him and saying, “Oh no, no, no,” I mean, “Oh my God, they have shot my husband.” And “I love you, Jack,” I remember I was shouting. And just being down in the car with his head in my lap. And it just seemed an eternity. You know, then, there were pictures later on of me climbing out the back. But I don't remember that at all." (When asked if she remembered Secret Service Agent Clint Hill's climbing onto the limo after she climbed out the back.) "I don't remember anything. I was just down like that. And finally I remember a voice behind me, or something, and then I remember the people in the front seat, or somebody, finally knew something was wrong, and a voice yelling, which must have been Mr. Hill, "Get to the hospital," or maybe it was Mr. Kellerman, in the front seat. But someone yelling. I was just down and holding him. I was trying to hold his hair on. But from the front there was nothing. I suppose there must have been. But from the back you could see, you know, you were trying to hold his hair on, and his skull on.” (When asked how many shots were fired) “Well there must have been two because the one that made me turn around was Governor Connally yelling. And it used to confuse me because first I remembered there were three and I used to think my husband didn’t make any sound when he was shot. And Governor Connally screamed like a stuck pig. And then I read the other day that it was the same shot that hit them both. But I used to think if I only had been looking to the right I would have seen the first shot hit him, then I could have pulled him down, and then the second shot would not have hit him. But I heard Governor Connally yelling and that made me turn around, and as I turned to the right my husband was doing this (indicating with hand at neck). He was receiving a bullet. And those are the only two I remember.” Analysis: although Mrs. Kennedy turns her head to the right in the Zapruder film around the time the LPM scenario holds the first shot was fired, she states she turned her head to the right after hearing a backfire and hearing Governor Connally scream. Governor Connally doesn’t scream out until after frame 240. This supports that the first shot she heard was fired between 190 and 224, and hit Governor Connally. Now, since she could only recall hearing two shots, one might try to claim she failed to hear the first shot, fired before the shot or shots fired between 190 and 224, and that she head but one shot prior to Connally's yell. But one can't automatically assume this. She told the Warren Commission, after all, both that at "first I remembered there were three" shots and that "I used to think my husband didn’t make any sound when he was shot. And Governor Connally screamed like a stuck pig. And then I read the other day that it was the same shot that hit them both." These statements indicate that she initially believed her husband had been struck by a separate bullet from the one striking Connally, fired before the bullet striking Connally. What led her to believe as much she never did say. But look at the Gif below (put together by Robert Harris). Mrs. Kennedy stares at her husband in the Z-220's and only turns to look at Connally after he yells out in the Z-230's. Since she fails to remember what led her to look at her husband before she looked at Connally, and even fails to remember climbing out on the trunk of the car after the shots, however, the most one can faithfully take from her statements is that at least two shots were fired and that Governor Connally was wounded before Kennedy was struck at Z-313. Could only swear to two shots. First shot hit 190-224.
Here, then, is a gif from the Zapruder film showing Mrs. Kennedy turn to Governor Connally after he's been hit, and has begun screaming "like a stuck pig." While it seems clear that Connally was wounded before President Kennedy received his fatal blow, there are those who continue to claim Connally was not wounded until afterwards. There are facts upon which both sides of the conspiracy/no conspiracy divide can agree, and this oughta be one of them.
Texas Governor John Connally sat directly in front of the President. He was shot on 11-22-63 and is the man yelling in the gif above. (11-22-63 report of CBS News' Walter Cronkite, quoting Connally's aide William Stinson's circa 2:00 PM press conference) (On Connally's response when asked from which direction the shots came) "I don't know. I guess from the back. They got the President, too." (11-27-63 televised interview with Martin Agronsky, transcript printed in the 11-28-63 New York Times.) ”we had just turned the corner, we heard a shot; I turned to my left—I was sitting in the jump seat. I turned to my left to look in the back seat—the President had slumped. He had said nothing. Almost simultaneously, as I turned, I was hit and I knew I had been hit badly. I knew the President had been hit and I said, “My God, they are going to kill us all.” Then there was a third shot and the President was hit again and we thought then very seriously. I had still retained consciousness but the President had slumped in Mrs. Kennedy's lap and when he was hit the second time she said, or the first time—it all happened in such a brief span--she said “Oh, my God, they have killed my husband—Jack, Jack.” After the third shot, the next thing that occurred—I was conscious--the Secret Service man, of course, the chauffeur, had pulled out of the line--they said, “Get out of here…” (12-13-63 FBI report on a 12-11 interview, CD188, p. 3-5) “Governor Connally stated “First sense or realization of anything unusual I became conscious of a shot or what sounded like a gunshot. I knew it came from my right rear. I instinctively turned to my right to look back and as I did so I sensed more than I saw that President Kennedy was hit. As I turned I realized something was amiss with President Kennedy and then I turned back to my left a little and as I did so I got hit with a bullet in my right shoulder just below the shoulder blade and arm pit about four inches from my right side. This bullet pierced my chest coming out the right side slightly below my right nipple. It entered my right arm above the wrist, passed through and then lodged in my left inner leg just above my knee where the bullet apparently split. I believe I remarked “Oh my God, they are going to kill us all!” Realizing I had been hit I crumpled over to Mrs. Connally and she pulled me over towards her…I was conscious of a third shot and heard it…we were all splattered with what I thought was brain tissue from President Kennedy.” …When Governor Connally was asked about the elapsed time between the first and last shot he remarked “Fast, my God it was fast. It seemed like a split second. Just that quick” and he snapped his fingers three times rapidly to illustrate the time and said “unbelievably quick…Governor Connally felt the shots were fired so fast the assassin had hit him by accident on the second shot.”.
(As quoted in Red Roses from Texas, by Nerin Gun, published February 1964. As Gun has Connally stating there may have been a fourth shot--something he never said elsewhere--the veracity of this quote is in question. Did Gun talk to Connally, or was he paraphrasing what Connally had told others? If anyone knows the source of Gun's quote of Connally, please let me know.) "'You can't say now,' said Governor Connally's wife, turning towards the President as the car rounded the corner from Houston Street into Elm Street, 'that the people of Dallas don't love you, and aren't glad to see you." "No, no-one can say that any more," John Kennedy answered. They were his last words. At that moment, the first bullet hit him. He lifted a hand to his throat. Jacqueline, who was smiling and waving to some people on the other side of the road, turned back towards him, to see what was happening. The chauffeur looked up at the small bridge, trying to see what had caused the noise. Kennedy slumped down in the back of the car, and Jacqueline cried: 'Oh my God! They've killed my husband. Jack . . . Jack!' That was when Governor Connally turned to the right. He was to say later: 'The President had blood on his cheeks. He said nothing. Then a bullet hit me in the shoulder. I knew that the wound was serious. I tried to get up, but collapsed into the arms of my wife. It was then that I heard a third shot, maybe a fourth. I saw that the President had been hit again. I cried out: 'My God, they're going to kill us all.'" (2-3-64 Associated press article reporting on Connally's comments at the annual Associated Press Texas managing editors meeting) "Texas Gov. John Connally, although seriously wounded by the second shot, was still conscious and saw the third and fatal shot strike President Kennedy, he told newsmen today. 'I saw the effects of the third shot--the shot to the head--and I assumed then there was no hope for him,' Connally said of the President's assassination in Dallas November 22. Connally said when he heard the first shot, he had one thought: 'This is an assassination attempt.'...'Frankly, I thought I had been killed, too,' said Connally, his arm still in a sling from the wounds he received. 'I heard the first shot, but not the second which struck me. There was no pain whatever. It felt like a short jab to the back. I lunged forward, there was blood everywhere, and Nellie (Mrs. Connally) covered me.' Connally said his turning to check on the President after the first shot undoubtedly saved his life. 'I looked back over my right shoulder and could not see the President, so I turned to look over my left shoulder. I never completed that second turn when I got hit. Had I not turned, I have no doubts the bullet would have entered my spine and heart.'" (4-21-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 4H129-146) “we had gone, I guess, 150 feet, maybe 200 feet, I don’t recall how far it was, heading down to get on the freeway…We had just made the turn, well, when I heard what I thought was a shot. I heard this noise which I immediately took to be a rifle shot. I instinctively turned to my right because the sound appeared to come from over my right shoulder, so I turned to look back over my right shoulder, and I saw nothing unusual except just people in the crowd, but I did not catch the President in the corner of my eye, and I was interested…the only thought that crossed my mind was that this is an assassination attempt. So I looked, failing to see him, I was turning to look back over my left shoulder into the back seat, but I never got that far in my turn. I got about the position I am in now facing you, looking a little bit left of center, and then I felt like someone had hit me in the back. (When asked how long it was between the first shot and his feeling the impact) “A very, very brief span of time…I just looked down and I was covered with blood, and the thought immediately passed through my mind that there were either two or three people involved or more in this or someone was shooting with an automatic rifle. These were just thoughts that went through my mind because of the rapidity of these two, of the first shot plus the blow that I took…So I merely doubled up, and then turned to my right again and began to—I just sat there, and Mrs. Connally pulled me over to her lap…I reclined with my head in her lap, conscious all the time, and with my eyes open, and then, of course, the third shot sounded, and I heard the shot very clearly. I heard it hit him. I heard the shot hit something…I heard it hit. It was a very loud noise, just that audible, very clear…Immediately, I could see on my clothes, my clothing, I could see on the interior of the car…brain tissue….on my trousers there was one chunk of brain tissue as big as almost my thumb, thumbnail and again I did not see the President at any time either after the first, second, or third shots, but I assumed always that it was he who was hit and no one else. I immediately, when I was hit, I said, “Oh, no, no, no.” And then I said “My God they are going to kill us all.” (When asked about the timing of the shots) “It was a very brief span of time…so much so that again I thought that whoever was firing must be firing with an automatic rifle because of the rapidity of the shots…it just couldn’t conceivably have been the first (bullet which struck him) …when I heard the sound of that first shot, that bullet had already reached where I was, or it had reached that far, and after I heard that shot, I had the time to turn to my right, and start to turn to my left before I felt anything…I never heard the second shot, didn’t hear it…I think I heard the first shot and the third shot.” Beginning Analysis: Connally’s earliest statements do not support the LPM theory. While he states he turned to his right after hearing the first shot, he more specifically states he turned to look over his right shoulder, which never occurs until long after Z-160 and Z-190, around Z-270.
Connally First Shot Analysis
On page 133 of Connally’s Warren Commission testimony there is a most important exchange. Here, counsel Arlen Specter hands the Governor an overhead photograph of Dealey Plaza and asks him to mark where he was “at the time the shooting first started.” The Governor states “I would say it would be about where this truck is here. It looks like a truck. I would say about in that neighborhood.” He then marks the photo. This marked photo was placed into evidence as Commission Exhibit 699. When one compares this photo to the surveyor’s plat of Dealey Plaza, however, one can see that the area marked by Connally is nowhere near where the LPM theory holds Connally to have been when he heard the first shot. When one combines CE 699 with Connally’s testimony that he had gone 150-200 feet down Elm before he heard the first shot, in fact, one should realize the LPM theory is on very shaky ground. At the time of Z-160, Connally was at best 115 feet down Elm (from the turning point in the middle of Houston). At Z-190, on the other hand, he was approximately 145 feet down Elm.Ironically, the closest possible shot to the location marked by Connally was Z-224, where he appears to be hit. The possibility exists, therefore, that Connally was simply confused, and marked CE 699 where he believed he was when first hit, and not where he was when he heard the first shot.
The possibility that Connally felt the first shot could have occurred as early as Z-160, however, is discounted by Connally's comments later that day.
(4-21-64 comments by Connally after studying the Zapruder film, as per a 4-22-64 memorandum for the record written by Warren Commission counsel Melvin Eisenberg) "(d) After viewing the films and slides, the Governor was of the opinion that he had been hit by frame 231. (e) The Governor stated that after being hit, he looked to his right, looked to his left, and then turned to his right. He felt the President might have been hit by frame 190. He heard only two shots and felt sure that the shots he heard were the first and third shots. He is positive that he was hit after he heard the first shot, i.e., by the second shot, and by that shot only."
Thus, we have the Governor giving numbers to the “very, very brief” interval between the first two shots he described in his testimony. While the LPM theory holds that there were almost 3 ½ seconds between the first two shots, the Governor was of the opinion there were barely 2 seconds. Since the Governor felt the first shot may have been around frame 190 and struck the President, and since this frame just so happens to correspond to a substantial blur on the Zapruder film and the President’s turning to his left, shouldn’t those supporting Connally as the most important witness, and building their theory around his testimony, hold that the first shot rang out around frame 190 and struck the President? The problem with this, of course, is that it doesn’t leave enough time for Oswald to effectively re-aim for a second shot at frame 224. The pre-determined conclusions of the LPM defenders therefore determined the direction of their analysis. They built their theory around Connally’s testimony while ignoring most of what he said. This would be acceptable if the bulk of the other witnesses corroborated a missed shot at frame 160. But, as we shall see, they do not. Far from it.
Still, defenders of the LPM theory will argue that, no matter what Connally’s estimation of the distance he traveled down Elm was, and no matter what time in the Zapruder film Connally felt Kennedy was hit, the four passengers in the back of the limousine all turned to their right after frame Z-160, and that there must have been a shot at this time.
Now here's Connally's head in four frames of the Z-film.
First up is Connally in Z-139. It's his left profile. He's facing to the right. Second up is Connally in Z-151. He's begun a turn to the left. Third up is Z-162. It's his right profile, partially obscured by part of the limo. He's completed his turn to his left. And finally there's Z-165. He's now turned back to his right, and is facing Zapruder.
Now, should that be too hard to make out, here's a gif showing these jerky head-turns in the Zapruder film.
So, yeah, it’s quite a leap to say Connally's turn in the Z-150's was in reaction to a shot at Z-160. Reactions normally come a second after an event, not a second before.
Perhaps, then, he'd been warned the shots were coming and was looking back and forth in anticipation.
Or perhaps he'd turned to his left for some other reason, but then jerked back within a split second after hearing a shot from over his right shoulder.
Now that's what most single-bullet theorists would have you believe. But Connally said he'd started to turn to his right when he was hit. Well, he'd already completed his turn to the right by Z-173, almost three seconds before single-assassin theorists claim he was hit.
So, yeah, Connally's recollections are not the neat fit for the SBT some would have you believe...
(It should be pointed out, moreover, that a shot at Z-160 means Kennedy turned to his right and waved to the crowd AFTER the first shot was fired...something no one but no one remembered.)
So, yeah... maybe, just maybe, (which in this instance means almost certainly) Connally turned left, and then right, before a single shot was fired...
He sure thought so…
As the Governor Turns
(6-22-64 interview on television station KRLD, most of which was re-broadcast on CBS 9-27-64) “just as we turned, down by the courthouse, Nelly turned around and said to the President--she was so impressed by the warmth of the reception-- she turned around and said to the President, ”Well, Mr. President, you can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you, too” and he said “No I think that’s apparent” and or words to that effect... The crowds began to thin, but we were only about 5 minutes from the Trade Mart where the luncheon was to be held. Uh…so…we all more or less straightened up…uh, in the car …uh, I did I know and maybe I should explain that a little bit by sayin’ when you sit for a prolonged period of time as we were, facing one direction acknowledging the crowd why, when you get an opportunity where the crowd thins you kind of shift in the chair and straighten up. We had just done that. I had and I heard this shot and I say shot because I immediately thought it was a shot. And I immediately thought it was a rifle shot. Why? I don’t know but I immediately thought of an assassination attempt. It’s the only thing that crossed my mind. Fear just swept through me and I immediately thought of him, of course. I was sitting on the jump seat in this seven passenger car, immediately in front of him. And I turned, thinking that the shot had come from back over my right shoulder. And I turned to look in that direction I think motivated by two things, first to see if I could see where the shot came from, see if I could see anything unusual; but equally but more important to me in that moment in my thought processes was a desire to face him, see if anything had happened, see if he was all right. So I turned and I obviously saw nothing but a tremendous crowd of people from where we had just come. And I saw nothing unusual, nothing out of the way except people who also had startled looks on their faces, they were turning, they were looking. And…and I didn’t catch him in the corner of my eye, so I was in the process of turning to my left to look back over my left shoulder, and that’s when I felt the impact of the bullet that hit me. There was no—there was no great pain associated with the bullet that hit me, notwithstanding it went into my back shoulder and came out my chest, right here. I felt as if someone had just hit me in the back, a sharp blow with a doubled up fist. It was an impact rather than any sort of searing pain. It more or less knocked me over at least enough to where I looked down. And of course I was covered in blood, and frankly thought that I had been fatally hit. I said, as I recall “My God, they’re going to kill us all!” So there was no thought in my mind, really, but that this was an assassination attempt. I did not hear the second shot, the one that hit me. I understand there’s some question in the minds of the experts about whether or not we could both have been hit by the same bullet and that was the first bullet. I just don’t happen to believe that. I won’t believe it, never will believe, because, again, I heard the first shot, I recognized it for what I thought it was. I had time to turn to try and see what happened. I was in the process of turning again before I felt the impact of a bullet. Obviously, if the bullet that hit me hit me before I could hear it, I was never conscious of the sound of the second bullet at all. I never heard the second bullet. After I said, “My God, they’re going to kill us all,” I, of course, didn’t know that they’d actually hit the President, because I had not seen him. He had not said a word. And about that time Nellie pulled me down into—I had turned again in reaction to this bullet and had turned facing my right—and she pulled me down into her lap and put her head down on top of mine and just kept talking to me and saying “You’re going to be all right, you’re going to be all right.” I was conscious the whole time. I never lost consciousness and I was lying there and heard the third shot. Now it takes a long time to tell this, Eddie, but this all happened, as you well know, in matter of seconds. I heard the third shot very distinctly. I heard it hit. I assumed that it hit the President. It obviously did. I did not see it hit him, but I heard it hit. And I knew obviously—again, if you’ve ever done any firing, even 200 or 300 yards, when you fire a rifle at a deer you know from the sound of that shell, the whine of it, whether or nit it hit its target or whether it didn’t. Makes a different sound. Well obviously the third shot hit something because the evidence was splattered all over the car and all over my clothes, all over Nelly. There was no question what had happened. My eyes were open. I was conscious. “I saw the two Secret Service men in the front seat. I heard what they said…Roy Kellerman, who was in the right front, between the second and the third shot—between the time I was hit and between the time of the third shot—both the driver and Roy were looking back into the seat to see what had happened. This was all, again, happening in a matter of seconds and they both had a look of almost consternation on their face. Roy, in the right seat turned around, on a radio communication, obviously working something on the panel of the car, and said, “Get out of the line.” And then he said, apparently over the radio, “Get us to a hospital quick.” So we immediately pulled out of the caravan and began picking up speed…No, the car never stopped. And about this time I lost consciousness…It was a time of just unbelievable stark tragedy. You, uh, so many things go through your mind at that moment that I think it’s probably impossible to relate at any future time all the things that you thought. I know I thought, again I rather assumed without knowing that the president had been fatally wounded. And I rather assumed that, uh, that I had been…”
Intermediate Analysis: Connally is telling us his sudden turn to the left prior to frame 160 and his sudden turn back to the right afterwards was him simply straightening out in the car. And this actually makes some sense. When one looks at the Croft Photo taken at Zapruder frame 161 and the Betzner photo taken at Zapruder frame 186 one can see that the north side of Elm was still lined with spectators, while a look at any of the Zapruder film frames in this time period shows the south side of Elm to be almost vacant. It only makes sense then that the four political figures in the limousine would turn their heads to face the north side. This accounts for the sudden turn of all four people roughly at the same time.
(It should also be noted that while Croft didn’t hear a shot until seconds after snapping his picture, Betzner heard one just after he clicked. This is undoubtedly supportive of the first shot coming at frame 190 and will be discussed in more detail on the pages to come.)
Should Connally’s words not be enough to convince one that the mass turn to the right of the limousine occupants preceded the first shot, there are also the words of Mary Woodward, who stood on the north side of Elm Street near the Thornton Freeway sign In an eyewitness account written on the afternoon of the shooting and published 11-23-63 she stated “After acknowledging our cheers, he (Kennedy) faced forward again and suddenly there was a horrible, ear-splitting noise.” A 12-7-63 FBI report reflects she told the FBI much the same: “she was watching President and Mrs. Kennedy closely, and all of her group cheered loudly as they went by. Just as President and Mrs. Kennedy went by, they turned and waved at them. Just a second or two later, she heard a loud noise.” (Kennedy is waving in her direction at frame 190.)
Should one doubt the words of both Governor Connally and Mary Woodward that the limousine occupants turned to the right before the first shot, and not as a response to the shot, there is also the testimony of Vickie Adams, who watched the motorcade from the fourth floor of the school book depository. In her 4-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, she stated “I watched the motorcade...proceed around the corner on Elm, and apparently somebody in the crowd called to the late President, because he and his wife both turned abruptly and faced the building…Then we heard—then we were obstructed from the view…A tree. And we heard a shot, and it was a pause, and then a second shot, and then a third shot.”
The 6-22-64 Connally interview is also important because it is one of the few times he talked about the actions of the Secret Service agents in the front seat, agents Kellerman and Greer. Connally’s assertions that he turned back to his right in reaction to the bullet strike and that he’d already been struck by the time the agents looked into the back seat are strong evidence he was hit long before Zapruder frame 285. This is a critical blow to the pet theory of those holding that Connally was first struck circa Z-285, or later.
(9-16-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Most of the hunters in the motorcade--Sorrels, Connally, Yarborough, Gonzalez, Albert Thomas--instinctively identified it as rifle fire." (Manchester's theory on what happened to the first bullet, after exiting Kennedy) "Continuing its flight, it had passed through Governor Connally's back, chest, right wrist and left thigh, although the Governor, suffering a delayed reaction, was not yet aware of it. At the moment, in fact, Connally was glancing over his right shoulder, in the direction of what he had recognized as a rifle shot." (On Connally's reaction to being hit, by what Manchester asserts was this same first shot) "At this instant, the impact of John Connally's wound hit him. It was as though someone had jabbed him in the back with a gigantic fist. He pitched forward, saw that his lap was covered with blood, and toppled to the left, toward his wife. Both John and Nellie were aware that the Lincoln was slowing down. Huddled together, they glanced up and saw the astounded faces of Kellerman and Greer, inches from their own. Suddenly, the Governor felt doomed. He panicked. 'No, no, no, no!' he shrieked. 'They're going to kill us both!'" (On the head shot) ""Nellie wonders if she is being sprayed by spent buckshot, but John Connally knows. John suddenly recalls his boyhood in the Model T, in a flash he remembers his father and Carlos Estrada, and as he slides bleeding into Nellie's lap, he fills his lungs and screams again and screams again and screams again in agony; in terror she begins to scream, too; and they are overwhelmed by matter, saturated in Kennedy's bright blood..." (9-27-64 Press conference on Connally's response to the Warren Report, as shown in the film Rush to Judgment, 1967) “Unquestionably, when the first shot was fired, I recognized it as a shot. I thought of nothing else, but it was a rifle shot. I turned to my right, I had time to think, I had time to react. I turned to my right to look back over my right shoulder to see if I could see anything unusual and particularly to see if I could catch him out of the corner of my eye—the President—because I immediately thought it was an assassination attempt the moment I heard the shot. I didn’t see anything but the general blur of waving, of people moving. I did not see anything unusual—I did not see the President out of the corner of my eye and I was in the process of turning over to my left shoulder, and had about come to the point where I was looking straight forward again, when I felt the impact of the bullet that hit me...I am convinced beyond any question of a doubt that the first shot that was fired did not hit me. Then I was hit. I have no opinion or recollection of the sound of the shot that hit me. Beyond any question of a doubt the third shot did not hit me.” (9-28-64 article in the Chicago Tribune, on the press conference the day before) (Note: I assume the press conference shown in Rush To Judgment is this same press conference, but have yet to establish this as a fact.) "The commission said the bullet that struck Kennedy in the throat probably also struck Connally. 'I'm convinced beyond any doubt that the first shot did not hit me,' Connally said. 'I heard the first shot and looked back over my right shoulder to see him (Kennedy). All I could see was the blur of people moving. I felt the impact of the second bullet but I did not hear it. The third shot I heard. I heard it hit him [Kennedy] and I saw the results of it. My eyes were open, I was conscious. I thought immediately that it was an assassination..." (11-21-65 interview with UPI found in the Brownsville Texas Herald) "'The first inkling I had that anything was amiss was when I heard a sound that I thought was a shot. I tried to turn around in front of the President. I felt a hard impact."..."the first time I knew I had been hit was when I saw blood all over my clothing. 'I said lo Nellie, 'My God! They're going to kill us both.' She kept saying, 'Be still, be still. You're going to be all right.' 'I remember hearing the third shot and knew that someone had been hit a fatal blow. There was blood all over me and the car.'" (10-30-66 interview with Life Magazine, as reported in its 11-25-66 issue) (Note: a caption to a series of frames from the Zapruder film featured in this issue claims that after studying individual frames from the film, "Connally...says he was hit here," with an arrow pointing to frame 234.) (When discussing the frames of the Zapruder film immediately following Kennedy's emergence from behind the sign) "You can see my leftward movement clearly...I had turned to the right when the limousine was behind the sign. Now I'm turning back again. I know that I made that turn to the left before I was hit. You can see the grimace in the President's face. You cannot see it in mine. There is no question about it. I haven't been hit yet."(When discussing his choice of frame 234 as the frame where he was first hit) "Having looked at frames 233 to 235, I can begin to see myself slump in 234. The slump is very pronounced in 235. I am hunched. It looks as though my coat is pulled away from my shirt. My mouth is elongated. I don't think there is any question that my reaction to the shot begins in this time sequence..." (When reflecting on the shooting) “”Between the time I heard the first shot and felt the impact of the other bullet that obviously hit me I sensed something was wrong, and said “Oh, no, no, no.” After I felt the impact, I glanced down and saw that my whole chest was covered with blood...I'll bet that you can recall every detail of the circumstances under which you heard of the assassination--or Pearl Harbor Day or the death of F.D.R. And that's why I know every split second of what happened in that car until I lost consciousness. When I heard that first shot, and was starting to turn to my right to see what happened, Nellie saw the President's hands reaching for his throat. I started to look around over my left shoulder, and somewhere in that revolution I was hit. My recollection of that time gap, the distinct separation between the shot that hit the President and the impact of the one that hit me, is as clear today as it was then." (When discussing his dispute with the Warren Commission) "history is bigger than any individual's feelings. I don't want to discuss any other facets of the controversy except my wounds as related to the first shot that hit the President. They talk about the 'one-bullet' or 'two bullet theory,' but as far as I'm concerned there is no 'theory.' There is my absolute knowledge, and Nellie's too, that one bullet caused the President's first wound, and that an entirely separate shot struck me...It's a certainty. I'll never change my mind.'"
(11-23-66 press conference, as shown in a 1996 episode of the MSNBC program Time and Again, featuring Jane Pauley. Note: sections left out of a transcript published in the next day's New York Times have been highlighted) "'I am convinced, beyond any doubt, that I was not struck by the first bullet. I know that I heard the first shot, that I turned to my right to see what what was happening. Seeing nothing, I was in the process of turning to my left, and I was struck by a second shot. The third shot struck the President but did not strike me. As I said earlier, this testimony was presented to the Warren Commission. They chose to disagree with my interpretation, and my memory of what had occurred, and this is their privilege. But I maintain my original view, and always shall. I want to make it very clear, however, that simply because I disagree with the Warren Commission on this one detail does not mean that I disagree with the substance of their overall findings. I think the commission did an outstanding job under very difficult circumstances." (A snippet from another part of the press conference is then shown) "I think there was more than half a second between the shots. I think there was probably almost close to two seconds between the time President Kennedy was hit by the first shot and the time I was hit." (He is then asked if he feels certain about the direction of the shots) "Absolutely. Absolutely. Over my right shoulder. Back over my right shoulder from behind us. Beyond any question. I only heard two. Mrs. Connally has a very definite opinion that all three shots came from back over our right shoulder, from behind us, not from the side of us, not from the front of us, not from the bridge, but back over our right shoulder." (Comments at the 11-23-66 press conference, as reported in the 11-24-66 New York Times article) "'I am convinced, beyond any doubt, that I was not struck by the first bullet. I know that I heard the first shot, that I turned to see what happened, and that I was struck by a second shot. The third shot struck the President and not me. As I said earlier, this testimony was presented to the Warren Commission. They chose to disagree, which is their privilege. I maintain my original view, always shall. I want to make it very clear, however, that simply because I disagree with the Warren Commission on this one detail does not mean that I disagree with the substance of their overall findings." (11-23-66 AP article found in the Miami News on the press conference called by Connally, in which he read a prepared statement and denounced Mark Lane and other critics of the Warren Report as "scavengers.") "Connally told a questioner at a news conference that he had read none of the books criticizing the Warren Report but had read a number of news stories and reviews about them. He held steadfastly to his belief he was hit by a bullet that did not hit President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. The Warren Commission said one bullet hit both men. Connally said he disagreed with the Commission on that one point, but he sees no reason for reopening the investigation... Connally repeated yesterday the testimony he gave before the Warren Commission. He said he heard the first shot, that he did not hear the second one but felt it hit him in the back like a fist, and that he heard the third shot. He said his wife, riding in the other jump seat to his left, heard all three shots, and that they both agreed the shots they heard all came from 'back over our right shoulder,' the direction of the book depository. Some have argued that one shot was fired from the vicinity of a grassy knoll in front and to the right of the presidential limousine. Connally said he first thought two or three people were involved in the shooting because of the rapidity of the shots. 'This was something that went through my mind,' he said. 'It is not evidence. It was nothing but a fleeting thought. The fact that I thought there were two or three because of the rapidity really has no bearing on the case. Nor should it be considered as evidence of any kind.' Connally said he would not change his mind about the shots, but it was the Warren Commission's privilege to disagree." (Interview with CBS broadcast 6-25-67) “All the shots came from the same place, from back over my right shoulder…Beyond any question, and I'll never change my opinion, the first bullet did not hit me. The second bullet did hit me. The third bullet did not hit me. Now, so far as I'm concerned, all I can say with any finality is that if there is - if the single-bullet theory is correct, then it had to be the second bullet that hit President Kennedy and me.”
(9-6-78 testimony before the HSCA Vol.1, p. 11-59) “we had just turned onto Elm. We had gone, I suspect, oh, 150, 200 feet when I heard what I thought was a rifle shot and I thought it came from--I was seated right, as you know, the jump seat right in front of the President, and they have a fairly straight back on them so I was sitting up fairly erect. I thought the shot came from back over my right shoulder, so I turned to see if I could catch a sight of the President out of the corner of my eye because I immediately had, frankly, had fear of an assassination because I thought it was a rifle shot. I didn't think it was a blowout or explosion of any kind. I didn't see the President out of the corner of my eye, so I was in the process of, at least I was turning to look over my left shoulder into the back seat to see if I could see him. I never looked, I never made the full turn. About the time I turned back where I was facing more or less straight ahead, the way the car was moving, I was hit. I was knocked over, just doubled over by the force of the bullet. It went in my back and came out my chest about 2 inches below and the left of my right nipple. The force of the bullet drove my body over almost double and when I looked, immediately I could see I was just drenched with blood. So, I knew I had been badly hit and I more or less straightened up. At about this time, Nelly reached over and pulled me down into her lap. I was in her lap facing forward when another shot was fired. I only heard two shots. I did not hear the shot that hit me. I wasn't conscious of it. I am sure I heard it, but I was not conscious of it at all. I heard another shot. I heard it hit. It hit with a very pronounced impact, just [slap of hands] almost like that. Almost that loud a sound; it made a very, very strong sound. Immediately, I could see blood and brain tissue all over the interior of the car and all over our clothes. We were both covered with brain tissue, and there were pieces of brain tissue as big as your little finger. It was something that was unmistakable. There was no question in my mind about what it was. About this moment in time, Roy Kellerman, who was the Secret Service agent sitting in the right-front seat, pushed, apparently was pushing some buttons on the panel, doing what, I don't know. I heard him say, "Let's get out of here fast," and the car lurched forward then. Bill Greer was the driver. He accelerated it tremendously. When I was hit, or shortly before I was hit--no, I guess it was after I was hit--I said first, just almost in despair, I said, "no, no, no, just thinking how tragic it was that we had gone through this 24 hours, it had all been so wonderful and so beautifully executed. The President had been so marvelously received and then here, at the last moment this great tragedy. I just said, "no, no, no, no". Then I said right after I was hit, I said, "My God, they are going to kill us all. The shots came, in my judgment, the two shots I heard came from the same direction, back over my right shoulder, came from behind us. Very clear to me where they came from. I don't think any shots came from any other direction. I was conscious until we hit the Stemmons Freeway and then I faded into unconsciousness. I would have to volunteer the very, very strong opinion, I know much has been written, much has been discussed, I was being a participant, I can only give you my impressions, but I must say to you, as I said to the Warren Commission, I do not believe, nor will I ever believe, that I was hit with the first bullet. I don't believe that. I heard the first shot. I reacted to the first shot and I was not hit with that bullet. Now, there's a great deal of speculation that the President and I were hit with the same bullet. That might well, be, but it surely wasn't the first bullet and Nelly doesn't think it's the second bullet. I don't know, I didn't hear the second bullet. I felt the second bullet. We obviously weren't hit by the third bullet. I was down reclining in her lap at the time the third bullet hit.” (When asked how long it was between shots) “I think it is impossible for me to say with precision, but obviously a very short period of time, a matter of seconds, because it was, you know, I think undoubtedly a fairly fluid movement. I heard the shot, I reacted by looking, I saw nothing, and I was in the process of turning when I felt the impact. I guess 6, 8, or 10 seconds, in that range, but I certainly couldn't be more precise than that, but it wasn't long.” (When asked if the shots were instantaneous) “No, it was not. It could not have been 1 second.”
(11-06-83 AP article by Robert Johnson found in the Daytona Beach Morning Journal) "Connally recalls hearing a rifle shot as the motorcade rolled by the Texas School Book Depository. Then he was hit by what he is convinced was a second shot that he did not hear--'I was more or less in a state of shock and it didn't register on me at all,' he said. But he remembers clearly the sound of a third shot, the one that shattered the president's skull." (11-13-83 UPI article found in the Paris Texas News) "Connally was conscious, his eyes open, when the bullet hit Kennedy's head. "It hit with a loud bang." He illustrates now by smacking his left palm with his right fist. "And then blood and brain tissue were all over the car, all over us." (ABC News interview shown on the 20th and 25th anniversaries of the assassination, 1983) "I heard a sound that I thought was a rifle shot. So I looked in the direction from which I thought the shot came, and then suddenly I felt an impact like someone had walked up behind me and hit me with a doubled-up fist right in the back. And it knocked me over. And before I could straighten up I saw that I was literally just covered with blood and I knew I had been hit badly, and I assumed, probably fatally." (9-19-88 interview recounted in American History Illustrated, November 1988) "I was looking to my right," he says, 'and then I heard a shot. It was a rifle-shot...This was not a backfire or a firecracker. Right away, the thought came to me that this was an assassination attempt. I started to turn toward my left to look back at President Kennedy. I was sure that the shot had not hit me. I heard it, but I did not sense being hit by it. As I turned, I felt like someone had doubled up his fist and hit me hard just below the right shoulder blade. I knew I had been hit by a second shot. Those shots had come so fast I thought maybe someone was working an automatic weapon, or maybe two or three people were shooting. I looked down and saw blood all over me. I said 'My God, they're going to kill us all!' I nearly doubled up. I fell over into my wife's lap. Then I heard the third shot. It hit the President hard. It made a loud noise as it hit. I couldn't see the President. But I knew he was hit. His brain tissues had been blown out onto me." (The Men Who Killed Kennedy, broadcast 1988) “I heard what I thought was a rifle shot. I immediately reacted by turning to look over my right shoulder because that’s where the sound came from. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary and was in the process of turning to look over my left shoulder when I felt a blow in the middle of my back as if someone had hit me with a doubled-up fist about like that. The blow was of such force that it bent me over, and I immediately saw that I was covered with blood, and I knew I’d been hit. And I said “Oh, my God, they’re going to kill us all. And I heard another shot. There was a last shot almost like that, and I immediately saw blood and brain tissue all over the back of the limousine.” (1988 interview broadcast in CBS program Who Killed JFK: the Final Chapter?, 11-19-93) "I heard what I thought was a rifle shot. I thought the shot came from behind me. (He turns right) And I didn't see anything, so I was in the process of turning to look over my left shoulder into the back seat. I had not gotten turned to my left to see the President when I felt a sharp blow like someone had walked up behind me and hit me with a closed fist. The force of the blow was strong enough to bend me over and I saw immediately that I was covered with blood. And I said "My God, they're gonna kill us all!" Nellie then pulled me over in her lap and put her head down on mine and said "Be still. Everything's gonna be alright!" I was still conscious. Then I heard another shot. I knew it had hit because it sounded with an impact (slaps hands) that loud. And after that shot, the car, our clothes, were covered in blood, and even chunks of brain tissue." (11-16-88 Cox News Service article by Seth Kantor found in the Henderson, North Carolina Times-News) (Describing the impact of the shot) "It was like somebody had walked up behind me and hit me with a closed fist in the back"... 'I didn't hear that second shot. I felt the blow. Then I saw I was drenched with blood. I knew I'd been hit. I said 'My God, they're going to kill us all!' Then Nellie (Mrs. Connally) pulled me into her lap. I heard another shot, what I thought was a rifle shot (he slammed his hands together again). I heard the impact of it, which was very loud, a very distinct impact. I was conscious. I was lying down. I was looking straight into the back of the back seat. And after that shot had hit, I saw blood and tissue all over the blue velour covering of the presidential limousine. All over my clothes. My eyes were open. I knew what I saw. There was no question in my mind but what there were three shots. I did not hear the second. I only heard two. Nellie heard three, There weren't four. They didn't come from the grassy knoll. They all came from the same direction. From behind...they developed the theory that the president and I were hit by the same bullet and that one missed completely. I don't believe that. Never have believed that. They posed that question to me during the Warren Commission and I didn't believe it then; don't believe it now.'" (11-21-88 appearance on ABC's Nightline) "The man fired three shots. He hit three times. He hit President Kennedy twice and me once...There were three shots...The President got hit by the first one. I got hit by the second. And he got hit by the third." (Interview shown on C-Span, 6-15-91) "We turned onto Elm Street to go under the overpass, and I heard this sound that I thought was a rifle shot. I turned to look over my right shoulder because that's where the sound came from to see if I could see anything. I didn't. And I was in the process of turning to look over my left shoulder when I felt an impact as if someone had hit me with a closed fist right in the middle of my back. The force was strong enough where it knocked me over and I saw that I was covered with blood. So, frankly, I thought I had been fatally hit. My wife pulled me down in her lap. She was seated on the jump seat to my left, and I was seated on the jump seat directly in front of the President. She pulled me down in her lap, (claps hands) and about that time I heard another shot, about that loud, a smack. And my eyes were open, I was conscious, and I saw the blue velour interior of this presidential limousine covered with blood and brain tissue." (On whether there was a conspiracy) "I don't know. I was there...I wasn't conscious of what was happening until Monday morning when I woke up enough to watch the funeral procession in Washington. If Oswald had a conspirator working with him, he's never been identified. A lot of strange things happened surrounding the assassination that there's no good explanation for. This gives rise to all the suspicions." (When asked about the Warren Commission) "Basically, the Warren Commission, I think, did a good job. I think they probably overlooked some things that they could have got into. I think the autopsy, the whole autopsy matter, was badly handled. I think the research on the president's body was not well done. But this is at the request of the Kennedy family."
(Interview with Larry King on CNN, January, 1992) "I thought I heard a rifle shot...I turned to look over my right shoulder because that's where the sound came from. And I saw nothing out of the corner of my eye and I turned to look over my left shoulder. About the time I got square again, Larry, I felt a blow (slaps hands together) about like that, as if someone had hit me in the back with a closed fist. It knocked me over and as I looked down I was covered with blood... Conscious, and I said 'My God, they're gonna kill us all!'...I said it out loud...No pain, nope...just a thud. I felt no pain after that. Nellie then immediately pulled me down into her lap. And about that time ((slaps hands together) we heard another sound, another rifle shot. The loud smack was the bullet hitting the President's head... Immediately after that smacking sound the whole car was covered with blood and brain tissue. There were chunks of brain tissue as big as my little finger on my clothes." (1-28-92 letter to Dr. Louis Kartsonis, published in San Diego Magazine, September 1992) "I did not see the President after any of the shots on November 22. My wife saw him reach up and grasp his throat after the first shot, then saw him no more because she pulled me down in her lap and put her head down over mine after the second shot which hit me. I think the first shot hit the President. I think the second shot hit me and I think the third shot hit him. I know there are those that disagree but I am absolutely convinced that this is what happened." (1992-ish interview with CBS' news program 48 Hours, broadcast 2-5-92. Note that this program was subsequently sold in the VHS format as "Who Killed JFK? Facts, Not Fiction." Note also that this appears to have been a slightly different program than the CBS program "Who Killed JFK? The Final Chapter" first broadcast on 11-19-93) (On his response to being shot) "And I looked down and I was covered with blood. And I said 'My God, they're going to kill us all!' My eyes were open. I was conscious." (Continuing, after the showing of an excerpt from Connally's 1964 interview with Eddie Barker) "To me, it's just inconceivable that the first shot that went through the throat, through the neck, entered my back. I don't believe that. I don't wanna believe that. They can't run enough tests to make me believe that." (Interview in the Discovery Channel program The End of Camelot, broadcast 1993) "I felt like someone hit me in the back with a balled-up fist. It knocked me over. And I looked down and I was covered with blood. And I said 'My God, they're gonna kill us all!" (In History’s Shadow, 1993, co-written with Mickey Herskowitz) “It was almost exactly 12:30 PM, November 22, 1963 when we followed the motorcycle escort onto Houston Street and past the ugly brick building where Lee Harvey Oswald waited with his scrambled egg off a mind. People were still jostling for a better view. The noise of the motorcycles, the clearing of the mechanical lungs, b-r-r-o-o-m, competed with the rising cheers, and at first many people thought what they heard was the backfire of a motorbike. I knew it wasn't. I had been to war, hunted, handled guns all my life. And even if there had been time to wonder, within seconds the evidence was all over us. The first shot struck the President in the neck. His hands flew to his throat, a reflex. I turned, and felt the blow against my back. My body was aligned in such a way that the bullet passed through my chest, shattered my right wrist, and lodged in my thigh. It is remarkable, over the years, how many people have tried to tell me where I was shot, and how. I never argue with them. I only need to consult my scars. I was still conscious when the third shot blew off part of John Kennedy's head...Everything I saw, heard, and felt is consistent with what was visible in the frame-by-frame analysis of the film taken by Abraham Zapruder, a Dallas merchant who became an accidental historian: The first shot passed through the neck of John F. Kennedy. I saw him clutch his throat. The second shot was the one that struck me; of this I have no doubt. Nellie had pulled me to her when the third bullet blew across the car a spray of the President's brain." (Final words on the subject) "I happen to support the major findings of the Warren Commission. I believe there were errors, including the so-called “magic bullet.” My ear and my body told me that I was not wounded in three places by a bullet that hit President Kennedy. I remain convinced that he was hit twice, and I once, by three separate shots.”
Final thoughts on Connally's truthfulness: In late 1966, when public skepticism about the single-bullet theory became rampant, Connally was in a bit of a bind. The Warren Commission had ignored his testimony that he had not been hit by the first shot and had instead presented that scenario as the most likely scenario. Through his 1966 interviews and beyond, he let the powers-that-be know that he would agree that he may have been hit by the same bullet as Kennedy, as long as they decided that it wasn’t the first bullet fired. Shortly thereafter, CBS conducted its investigation concluding that this was indeed the case. Since that point, until 2006, when Mark Fuhrman offered a single-assassin scenario which did not include a miss, all prominent single-assassin scenarios have taken as gospel a first shot miss and a second shot striking both Kennedy and Connally. Connally’s “playing ball” with the government after that point is made most clear by a subtle change between his Warren Commission and HSCA testimony. While Connally initially testified the time difference between the first two shots was “very, very brief” and indicative of automatic rifle fire or more than one assassin; and while by 1966 he said this gap was less than 2 seconds, by 1978 this gap had ballooned to as much as 10 seconds. Connally, a veteran, a hunter, and a former Secretary of the Navy, knew full well that a bolt-action rifle could be fired within 6 to 10 seconds, and that by stretching out the time span between the shots, he was helping to sell the single-assassin scenario.
Final analysis of Connally's recollections: Beyond his insistence that he was not hit by the first shot, or the third shot, it’s difficult to take Connally’s testimony at face value. While his testimony suggests that 1) he turned to look over his right shoulder just prior to being struck, and that 2) he then turned back to his left just as he was struck--and that he never saw the President during the shooting sequence--the Zapruder film shows him look back at the President after he was hit (at around frame 274). From this, one can only assume that Governor Connally’s memory was negatively affected by his experience. A 2004 article in the Journal of Law and Psychiatry by Charles Morgan et al examined the impact of extreme stress on eyewitness testimony. Morgan found that when military personnel were subjected to mock prisoner of war interrogations, and threatened with physical violence, and were asked the next day to identify the interrogators and guards, their identifications were only 30% accurate. Conversely, those interrogated in a less stressful environment were able to identify their captors with 62% accuracy. One might conclude from this, then, that we should pay less attention to Mrs. Kennedy’s and Governor Connally’s recollections and more attention to the recollections of those around them.
Still, from Governor Connally’s 1) initial approximation of the time span between the shots, 2) approximation of his location when the first shot occurred, and 3) recollection of stretching before the first shot, we can pull Governor Connally from the LPM box so many believe he belongs in. First shot hit 190-224. Was aware of two shots between 190 and 224.
Bodies in Motion, Time Standing Still
When one compares the Zapruder film to the testimony of the Mrs. Kennedy and Governor Connally, one can’t help but notice how fragile their memories were. In frame 230, for example, we see Mrs. Kennedy looking at her husband. This is before Governor Connally begins to yell. Similarly, Governor Connally turns to look over his right shoulder in the frames between Z-270 and 288, and yet this is after he has obviously been hit. Neither of them remembered looking at the President at these times. Perhaps, by looking at the testimony and statements of the other three occupants of the limousine, the sequence of events will become more clear. (Perhaps not.)
First Lady of Texas Nellie Connally sat directly to the left of her husband and directly in front of Jackie Kennedy. (11-22-63 press conference by Connally aide Julian Read, as found on youtube) "As Mrs. Connally recalls, just before they reached the triple underpass, the shot rang out, the first shot, and she feels quite sure that it did hit the President. Governor Connally, who was seated here, turned immediately to see what happened, and as he turned, he was struck. The President, according to Mrs. Connally, immediately slumped and Mrs. Kennedy grabbed him. A moment later Governor Connally slumped, and Mrs. Connally grabbed him. Both women grabbed the men almost simultaneously and ducked as much as possible to guard against any possible gunfire following that. Mrs. Connally says the next thing she recalls is the Secret Service man picking up a telephone in the car and getting instructions of "Let's proceed to the nearest hospital." (11-22-63 WFAA report on the approximately 2:00 PM press conference given by Connally aides Bill Stinson and Julian Read.) (Quoting Read, who had just spoken to Mrs. Connally.) “The car had turned to the left on Elm Street and was getting ready to go under the Triple Underpass. At that moment, Mrs. Connally said she heard a shot.Instantly, when she heard the shot, her husband turned to see what had happened and at that instant he too was shot. Mrs. Connally says she believes the first shot was the one that struck President Kennedy in the head. There was a second shot. That shot struck Governor Connally in the back, and coming out of his body in the right chest. There are reports of a third shot and Governor Connally has a wound on his wrist and that could be the result of that third pistol shot, although Mrs. Connally is not certain whether there was a third shot or not. She said immediately after the first shot Mrs. Kennedy grabbed her husband. After the second shot Mrs. Connally grabbed her husband. All four of them ducked down into the car to escape any further fusillade of shots.” (2:37 PM UPI teletype on Read's 11-22-63 press conference) “Mrs. Connally thinks Kennedy was shot first. She told the story of the shooting to Julian Read, a Governor’s aide…’They got ready to go through the underpass. Mrs. Connally heard a shot. When the first shot was fired, Connally turned in his seat and almost instantly was hit. She does not know about the third shot. But it may have been the one to hit the Governor’s wrist,’ Read said.” (11-22-63 UPI article on Read’s press conference.) “Mrs. John Connally, wife of the wounded Governor of Texas, said today she thinks President Kennedy was shot first….(Quoting Read) 'They got ready to go through the underpass. Mrs. Connally heard a shot.When the first shot was fired, Connally turned in his seat and almost instantly was hit. She does not know about the third shot. But it may have been the one that hit the governor’s wrist…Jackie grabbed the President and Mrs. Connally grabbed Connally and they both ducked down in the car…Mrs. Connally does not remember her husband saying anything.”
Now it's time we look at the fatal headshot. But just once. When it plays through the second time, one should focus on the actions of Mrs. Connally in the limo.
Note that Mrs.Connally pulled her husband down below the level of the seats within a split second of the fatal head shot.
Well, this might have cut into her noticing the effects of this shot, and hearing any shots after this shot, yes?
(Notes written on 12-2-63, as reprinted in her book From Love Field, 2003) “then I heard a loud, terrifying noise…I turned and looked toward the President just in time to see him clutch his neck and see him sink down in his seat. There was no utterance of any kind from him…I had no sure knowledge as to what the noise was…Quickly, there was a second shot, John had turned to the right at the first shot to look back and then whirled to the left to get another look…John said, “No, No, No,” was hit himself by a second shot and said “My God, they are going to kill us all,” wheeled back to the right, crumpling his shoulders to his knees…I reached over and pulled him to me…Then came a third shot.” (12-13-63 FBI report, CD188, p.6-7) “she was facing the front of the car when the first shot was fired and turned to her right towards President Kennedy and saw him with his hand at his throat and then slump down. …almost immediately Governor Connally recoiled in the opposite direction from her and was heard to remark “My God, they are going to kill us all.” She had feelings that buck shot was falling all around them and then she realized it was probably brain matter from President Kennedy’s head…When asked about the lapse of time between the first and last shots she replied “About like saying “crack, crack, crack.” She sensed that Governor Connally had been hit when she heard the second shot and she turned to hold him…The direction of all shots were from somewhere to the rear of the car.”
(4-21-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 4H146-149) “When we got past this area I did turn to the President and said “Mr. President you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.” Then I don’t know how soon, it seems to me it was very soon, that I heard a noise…I turned over my right shoulder and looked back, and saw the President as he had both hands at his neck…he made no utterance, no cry. I saw no blood, no anything. It was just sort of nothing, the expression on his face, and he just sort of slumped down. Then very soon there was the second shot that hit John. As the first shot was hit, and I turned to look at the same time, I recall John saying, “Oh, no, no, no.” Then there was a second shot, and it hit John, and as he recoiled to the right, just crumpled like a wounded animal to the right, he said, “My God, ,they are going to kill us all”…I never again looked in the back seat of the car after my husband was shot…I remember that he turned to the right and then just slumped down into the seat, so that I reached over to pull him toward me…The third shot that I heard I felt, it felt like spent buckshot falling all over us, and then, of course, I too, could see that it was the matter, brain tissue, or whatever, just human matter, all over the car and both of us...(The time between the first and second shot was) Very short. It seemed to me that there was less time between the first and the second than between the second and the third. (At the time of the first shot) The underpass was in sight…(When asked about the Zapruder film, she said she thought her husband was shot at frame) “229—it could have been through the next three to four frames.” (Article in McCall’s magazine, August, 1964) “in that instant the first shot rang out, I heard it and though I handle guns myself and am familiar with rifles, I did not in that split second realize it was gunfire…I looked directly at the President. He clutched his throat with both hands, and I felt sure he was dead. His face went blank. There was no pain or shock or fear just nothingness. His face was completely expressionless, as if the person had gone. Sitting on my right, John, the Governor, turned very fast to his right trying to look around at the President. Not getting him in his line of vision, he started turning to his left and the second bullet hit him. I heard John say, “They’re going to kill us all” He recoiled to his right and slumped over, still upright in his seat…I pulled him down onto my lap and bent over him…I heard the third shot and the Secret Service command to pull out of the motorcade and drive to the nearest hospital, but after John was hit, I didn’t look back again.” (9-30-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On her response to the first shot) "Nellie Connally twisted in her seat and looked sharply at Kennedy. His hands were at his throat, but he wasn't grimacing. He had slumped a little." (On her response to the head shot) "Nellie wonders if she is being sprayed by spent buckshot." (10-30-66 interview with Life Magazine, as reported in its 11-25-66 issue) “As far as the first two shots go...my memory is divided into four events. First I heard the shot, or a strange loud noise--I'm not that expert on rifles--back behind us. Then next I turned to my right and saw the President gripping at his throat. Then I turned back toward John, and I heard the second shot that hit John…I must have been looking right at him because I saw him recoil to the right...so you see I had time to look at the President after he was already hit, then turn and see John hit by a second shot. Then, of course, he slumped, and I reached to pull him toward me.” (When discussing her contention her husband was hit by a different bullet than the one striking Kennedy) "No one will ever convince me otherwise." (Interview with CBS broadcast 6-25 and 6-26-67) “They all came from the same direction…behind us, over my right shoulder. You see the first one, the first sound, the first shot, I heard and turned and looked right into the President’s face. So the sound drew me to that direction and had a definite reaction…He was clutching his throat, and just slumped down. He just had a - a look of nothingness on his face. He- he didn't say anything. But that was the first shot. The second shot, that hit John - well, of course, I could see him covered with - with blood, and his - his reaction to a second shot. The third shot, even though I didn't see the President, I felt the matter all over me, and I could see it all over the car. So I'll just have to say that I think there were three shots, and that I had a reaction to three shots. And - that's just what I believe.”
(9-6-78 testimony before the HSCA, Vol.1 p.11-59) “I heard a noise that I didn't think of as a gunshot. I just heard a disturbing noise and turned to my right from where I thought the noise had come and looked in the back and saw the President clutch his neck with both hands. He said nothing. He just sort of slumped down in the seat. John had turned to his right also when we heard that first noise and shouted, "no, no, no," and in the process of turning back around so that he could look back and see the President--I don't think he could see him when he turned to his right--the second shot was fired and hit him. He was in the process of turning, so it hit him through this shoulder, came out right about here. His hand was either right in front of him or on his knee as he turned to look so that the bullet went through him, crushed his wrist and lodged in his leg. And then he just recoiled and just sort of slumped in his seat. I thought he was dead…the only thing I could think of to do was to pull him down out of the line of fire…So, I pulled him down in my lap… I never looked back after John was hit. I heard Mrs. Kennedy say, "they have shot my husband.” Then, I heard a third shot and felt matter cover us and she said, "They have killed my husband, I have his brains in my hand". I thought John was dead, and I heard the Secret Service man say, "Let's get out of here quick." So, we pulled out of the motorcade and we must have been a horrible sight flying down that freeway with those dying men in our arms and going to no telling where.” (ABC News interview shown on the 20th and 25th anniversaries of the assassination, 1983) "I turned to look back at the President and saw him clutch his throat, and just sorta sink down. There was no sound. He said nothing. And John was turning around and then he was hit by--the second shot hit John. He collapsed, he just collapsed. And I reached over to pull him down into my lap, to get him out of the line of fire so they wouldn't hurt him anymore. And there was a third shot. This all happened very rapidly (snaps fingers snap snap) The third shot. There was matter all over the car. And that was the shot, of course, that hit the President. And I heard Jackie say 'My God, what have they done to you' and then later she said 'I've got his brains in my hand. It was a horrifying, horrible, horrible moment in history.' (Interview with Diane Sawyer on 60 Minutes, 1988) "And then the shot. I looked right at the President cause I was in the seat in front of Jackie, and I saw it--saw him clutch his throat. Then I heard the second shot and John just collapsed. I pulled him down and tried to cover him." (11-22-88 Interview on KTRK TV, as reported in an 11-23-88 AP article) "Nellie Connally recalled that she heard a noise and turned, but didn't realize it was gunfire. "John knew that it was a shot," she said. 'I just heard a noise and turned and saw the president clutch his throat and sink into the part of the car where he was sitting. Then I knew something terribly bad had happened." Nellie Connally said she pulled her husband into her lap after he was shot and kept telling him "it's going to be all right." At first I thought he was dead." She said once her husband was in her lap and she was hovering over him, a third shot rang out. "Then there was matter all over us and all over the car. I knew then that the president had to be — had to be dead."
(Interview with Larry King on CNN, January, 1992) "I turned at the first noise, but I didn't recognize it as a gunshot, just a noise. And I turned and I saw the President reach up and (unintelligible) clutch his throat. And he just sat down. He said nothing...Then there was the second shot--well, John was twirling around, and he was hit...He didn't hear the second bullet. You don't hear the one that hits you...All this happened in seconds. I reached over and grabbed him and pulled him down in my lap...I never looked back in the back again after I had John in my lap. But the third shot--all this matter and everything sprayed all over us." (Interview in the Discovery Channel program The End of Camelot, broadcast 1993) "We were driving along, and I heard a noise. And I turned around to have a look back and saw the President. His hands flew up to his neck, and he collapsed and made no sound." (Interview with Larry King on CNN, 7-4-2002, replayed 11-24-2002) “I heard this noise. And it came from the back of me. And I looked back toward the president and saw his hands just fly up to his neck and he slumped down. He said not one word…I didn’t know for sure that it was a gunshot when I heard it…It was just a noise. We had noises around. John knew it was a gunshot. And he turned to see the president…He couldn’t see him. So he whirled to the other side and he still couldn’t see him. And in the process of moving back, the second shot hit John…From the same place…Well, then we had a third shot…From the same place…bloody matter covered the car and covered all of us…Three shots, three reactions.” (When asked about the single-bullet theory) “That’s baloney.” (When asked about the possibility shots were fired from the knoll) “Well, maybe there was. But in my mind, by the time we passed the grassy knoll, got to the grassy knoll, everything that happened in that car had already happened.”
(From Love Field, 2003) “A moment later, a terrifying noise erupted behind us. Instinctively, I felt it was a gunshot. I looked back and saw the President’s hands fly up to his throat…From the corner of my eye, I saw my husband, John, turn clockwise in his seat…”No, no, no!” he cried out. Then—a second shot. My husband spun in his seat. He had been hit in the back by the second bullet. 'My God,' he blurted, 'they are going to kill us all!'—then crumpled forward…I pulled him into my lap…A third shot rang out.” (Interview with Houston PBS, 2003) "I heard this loud noise...When I heard this noise, it came over my right shoulder, and I turned around. And I didn't know at first what it was because the motorcycles, you know, backfire and make all that noise. But I knew it was not a good noise. And I turned back just in time to see the president's hands fly up to his neck and then he just sunk down a few inches in the car. John, who is seated in front of him...he knew that was a gunshot. And he turned to his right but he couldn't see the President who was directly behind him. So then he flipped to his left and he still couldn't see him and he said "No, no, no," and turned back. And when he got about half-way back the second shot hit John Connally and he said "My God, they're gonna kill us all!." And then just collapsed forward, blood everywhere. Now I know this takes longer than six seconds but it happened, all happened in six seconds... I just pulled him over...across my lap...While I had him down there was the third shot...Tiny bloody matter was all over whatever part of the interior of the car there was and all over our clothes so I knew that had been a pretty powerful shot. That's the one that took the President's head...Jackie said, "They've killed my husband! I have his brains in my hand." That's when I knew it was head." (November 2003 article on Connally and her book in Texas Monthly) "John and I were just smiling with genuine pleasure that everything was so perfect,” Nellie wrote. Suddenly, “a terrifying noise erupted behind us.” From her spot on a jump seat, she turned back to look at the president just in time to see his hands fly up to his throat. Then, Nellie turned back to meet her husband’s eyes. John Connally had fought in World War II and was a hunter; he knew that sound had come from a gun, but it was too late. A second shot rang out, and Connally uttered what has become one of the most remembered lines of that day. “My God,” he cried, his rich, stentorian drawl taut with fear, “They’re going to kill us all!” Then he collapsed. The second bullet had hit him in the back. What happened next was, for Nellie Connally, a defining moment. As she wrote in her book: “All I thought was, What can I do to help John?” Her husband was a big man—he stood six feet two inches—but she pulled him onto her lap and covered him with her body. “I didn’t want him hurt anymore,” she explained, and so, when the third shot hit its mark, exploding Kennedy’s head and showering Nellie with bits of blood and flesh, she was exposed but her husband was not. Nellie felt her husband move underneath her, bleeding heavily but alive. “I felt tremendous relief,” Nellie wrote, “as if we had both been reborn.” (Interview conducted for the Discovery Channel program Unsolved History, in an episode entitled JFK: The Conspiracy Myths, first broadcast 11-18-03) "There was a loud noise, and I saw his hands fly up to his neck, and then he just sunk down...The second shot went through John Connally. He said 'My God, they're gonna kill us all.' And then just fell over, blood all over him and all over his clothes. And I couldn't look back, but I heard Jackie say 'They've killed him! They've killed my husband! I have his brains in my hand!'"
(Interview on The View, 11-21-2003) "I heard this noise. I didn't know what it was but I tried to look at the President and his hands flew up to his neck and he sort of sunk down in his seat. He didn't say a word, but his eyes looked so troubled. John, who was seated in front of the President, knew it was a gun shot. He turned to his right--to see the President--but he couldn't see him. So he turned to his left--and he couldn't see him. On the way back--about midway--he was shot with the second shot...The third shot came, and I couldn't turn around because the weight of my husband in my lap. But I heard Jackie say 'They've killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand.' And then all around us--all over the car--was a bloody mass of--it looked like buckshot is the best way--all over the car and all over us and our clothes--and that was when the President took the third shot in the head." (Interview with Dan Rather on CBS, 11-21-03) "And I heard this loud noise. And I turned to look. I saw the President's hands fly up to his neck, and he just slumped down into the seat. The second shot came, and as John was hit he said "My God, they're gonna kill us all" and just fell over. (When asked about a third shot) "Yes. The word out of the back seat--I couldn't look--was Jackie saying "They've killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand." (From an 11-22-03 WBAP radio program on Youtube) "And I heard this loud noise that I was not certain what it was. But I turned toward the noise. When I turned I could look right at the President. And I saw his hands fly up to his neck. John, who was sitting in front of him, turns to his left, and this takes seconds. And the second shot went through John Connally. He said 'My God, they're going to kill us all.' There was a third shot. The car was covered. We were covered with a bloody matter that I assumed was the President's head." (Interview with Larry King on CNN, 11-22-03) "I heard this noise...I wasn't sure it was a gunshot because the motorcycles had been , you know, backfiring all around us. But I knew it was something and I turned and looked just in time to see his hands fly up to his face. And he just sunk down in the car. Said not a word. He had just a strange look in his eyes and said nothing...(My husband) turned quick...to his right and he couldn't see him because he was directly in front of him. And he said "No, no, no" and turned to his left and he still couldn't see him. Now this is a second or two. Then as he whirled back, the second shot hit John...It went under his shoulder, out through--under the nipple. It went through--it took out five inches of his fifth rib and went through one of his lungs...It crushed this wrist and, you know, shot the cufflink off...And then it landed in his leg...John said, "My God, they're going to kill us all," and just fell over. Blood everywhere.... There was a third shot...I heard the third shot and then, bloody matter, like buck shot, little pieces were all over the interior of the car, all over our clothes...(When asked about the single-bullet theory) "Well, let me ask you this, do you think a bullet that went through the president's neck can hang there in air between the two seats while John turned to the right, turned to the left and came back? That's what I asked the Warren Commission. I said, "I don't believe a bullet could do that." That bullet--the same bullet did not hit both of them." (11-23-03 article in Dallas Morning News) “His hands flew up to his neck…and he sank down in his seat. He didn’t say a word… John… turned to his right, and couldn’t see him, so he flips to his left, and he still can’t see him. And he says, “No, no, no.” And when he was trying to turn back, the second shot came. John said “My God they’re trying to kill us all!”…Then he collapsed…he fell forward…Then came the third, most damaging shot.”
Analysis: Mrs. Connally’s statements are a hodgepodge of what she remembers mixed with what her husband told her he remembered, mixed with her inaccurate recollections of what he told her he remembered. Her latter-day statements that her husband yelled out “no, no, no” while turning to the left before he was hit, and that he was hit while spinning back around to his right are but one example. The Zapruder film shows that Connally yelled out both “no, no, no” and “my God” as he faced his right between Z-240 and 260, and never turned to his left in between. Furthermore, while the break between these utterances is around Z-250, Mrs. Connally testified before the Warren Commission that she felt her husband was hit by Z-229.These inconsistencies in her testimony make interpreting her words difficult. Even so, her testimony is clearly not supportive of the LPM theory. She insists that the President was hit by the first shot. She also distinctly remembers her husband being hit after she witnessed Kennedy raise his arms to his throat. This suggests that she failed to actually hear a second shot or that she failed to immediately recognize that her husband had been hit. There is reason to believe, then, unless one is to assert that she is completely mistaken, that she witnessed a first shot hit on the President at approximately frame 190 and a second shot hit on her husband at frame 224…and that she was simply in error in her recollection of when her husband cried out in relation to the shots. First shot hit 190-224. Was aware of two shots between 190 and 224.
Another point worth making about Mrs. Connally’s statements is that, late in life, she fell under the influence of LPM theorists. While both her original notes and her subsequent testimony reflect that she saw President Kennedy "clutch at his throat" after the first shot, she described this clutching as his hands "flying up to his throat" in her final statements. This feeds into the LPM claim Kennedy’s arms flew up as a result of a neurological response, as opposed to a conscious act. And this, in turn, explains how Kennedy could respond to a shot impacting at frame 224, by frame 225 or 226, much faster than would normally be expected. While Mrs. Connally is totally within her rights to change her impressions of the President’s actions, moreover, this change of “clutch” to “flying up to” is more insidious than at first meets the eye. Surprisingly, the change not only takes place in the text of her 2003 memoir At Love Field, but in a transcription made from her original notes. Let's be clear: in the transcription of her notes it is reported that the President’s hands flew up to his neck, but in the notes themselves, thankfully re-printed in the book for all to see, it is reported that she saw the President ‘”clutch” his neck. This indicates that either Mrs. Connally herself or her co-writer Mickey Herskowitz, was not above misrepresenting the evidence a little to help support the LPM theory.
And this was not the only suspicious change in Mrs. Connally’s testimony. As the critics of the Warren Commission began to receive attention, she came to claim that all the shots came from the same location, behind her right shoulder. As she was lying with her back against the side of the limousine at the time of the third shot, however, “behind us, over my right shoulder” would mean the third shot came from the south, and not the Texas School Book Depository.
Changes of this nature are disappointing. But far from surprising. As one reads through the many eyewitness accounts one witnesses a great many such incidents, where witnesses under the influence of one theory or another subtly change their testimony to make it “fit.”
One can only hope, then, that from reading the accounts of the two secret service agents in the car, we will come to a better understanding of what happened.
Above: the JFK limousine at Love Field, at the beginning of the fateful motorcade. A smiling John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline are in the back seat, with Governor John Connally of Texas sitting right in front of Kennedy. The grimace-faced man in the bottom right corner is Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman, Kennedy's chief bodyguard that day. (And yes, that's Clint Hill back behind Mrs. Kennedy.)
Roy Kellerman sat on the passenger side of the front seat. (11-22-63 statements regarding the shooting while on the flight back from Dallas, as recalled by reporter Charles Roberts in The Truth About the Assassination, 1967) "But it was not just minor details on which the eyewitnesses to that day's history--some of them trained professional observers--disagreed during that flight back to Washington. On the important question of how many shots had been fired, there was dispute, even among Secret Service men. Agent Roy Kellerman, who rode in the front seat of the President's car, told me (as he later told the Warren Commission) that he had heard a 'flurry' of shots." (11-22-63 FBI interview, conducted during Kennedy's autopsy, as described in a 12-10-63 FBI report, CD7 p.3,) “he advised he heard a shot and immediately turned around, looking past Governor Connally…to the President. He observed the President slump forward and heard him say “Get me to a hospital.” Mr. Kellerman then heard Mrs. Kennedy say “Oh, no!” as the President leaned towards her…He stated he distinctly heard three shots. He advised he did not see the Governor get hit, nor did he observe the second bullet hit the President.” (11-27-63 FBI interview, CD 7, p.5-8) “Towards the end of town, the vehicle came to a sharp right turn in the street. Few people were on either side at this time. In a matter of a block, the road veered to the left. There were extremely few people on either side of the road at this point. The vehicle was still going at the normal speed which Kellerman estimated to be approximately 15 miles per hour...Kellerman advised he does not recall passing the Texas State Book Depository Building. He advised the vehicle appeared to be going down a small decline at which time everybody in the car was seated. Kellerman said he heard a noise like a firecracker...Upon hearing a noise like a firecracker, he distinctly and positively heard the President say “My God, I’ve been hit.” Kellerman advised he immediately turned his head to the left rear and almost instantaneously heard two additional shots. Upon turning his head to his left, he observed President Kennedy with his left hand in back of him appearing to be reaching to a point on his right shoulder. The President fell on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap. She stated, “My God, what are they doing to you?” Governor Connally never said a word.” (11-29-63 report, 18H724-727) “As the motorcade completed the main thoroughfare through Dallas, we made a sharp right turn for about 1 block, then a curved left turn into a slight downhill grade, entering an area with little or no spectators…Immediately I heard what I firmly believe was the President’s voice, “My God, I’m hit!” I turned around to find out what happened when two additional shots rang out, and the President slumped into Mrs. Kennedy’s lap and Governor Connally fell into Mrs. Connally’s lap. I yelled at William Greer to “Step on it! We’re hit!” and grabbed the mike from the car radio and called SA Lawson in the lead car.” (3-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 2H61-112) “As we turned off Houston onto Elm and made the short little dip to the left going down grade, as I said, we were away from the buildings, and where there was a sign on the side of the road which I don’t recall what it was and what it said, but we no more than passed that and you are out in the open, and there is a report like a firecracker, pop…as I turned my head to the right to view whatever it was or see whatever it was, I heard a voice from the back seat and I firmly believe it was the President’s 'My God! I am hit!,' and I turned around and he has got his hands up there like this (he put his hands up to his neck)…So, in the same motion I come right back and grabbed the speaker and said to the driver, 'Let’s get out of here, we are hit!,' and grabbed the mike and I said, 'Lawson, this is Kellerman… We are hit; get us to the hospital immediately.' Now, in the seconds that I talked just now, a flurry of shells come into the car.” (When asked about his recollection of Kennedy speaking out) "This noise which I attribute as a firecracker, when this occurred and I am in the process of determining where it comes because I am sure it came off my right rear somewhere; the voice broke in right then" (When asked if he heard Mrs. Kennedy say anything) "after the flurry of shots, I recall her saying, 'What are they doing to you?'" (When asked how long the shooting lasted, in seconds) "Three or four" (When asked how many shots were in the flurry) "I am going to say two, and it was like a double bang--bang, bang." (When asked again if this meant there were two shots after the first noise) “Yes, sir; yes, sir, at least.” (When asked the timespan between the first shot and the flurry) “I will estimate 5 seconds, if that.” (When asked to describe the second and third shots) “You have heard the sound barrier, of a plane breaking the sound barrier, bang, bang? That is it.” (When asked at what point Greer accelerated the limousine) “Our car accelerated immediately on the time—at the time—this flurry of shots came into it…Between the second and third shot.”
Above: a close-up of the limousine's occupants in Zapruder frame 271. Note that Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman, in the front seat, has turned to look back at President Kennedy. This is a huge problem for the single-assassin scenario. Those pushing there was but one man shooting on the limousine hold that two shots have been fired at this point, and that but one shot was fired after this point. But Kellerman was consistent in that he'd heard but one shot at this point, and that he'd heard two (or more) after he'd looked back at Kennedy.
(Signed statement in the 5-5-64 Secret Service report on the behavior of the presidential detail on the night before the shootng, 18H678) "I retired to my room in the neighborhood of 1 a.m. November 22, 1963. I did not leave my room at any time during the night." (11-17-64 and 5-12-65 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Lawson, Kellerman, Greer, Ready, and Hill, all thought that a firecracker had been exploded." (On the explosion of Kennedy's skull) "To Kellerman it appears that the air is full of moist sawdust." (8-24-77 interview with HSCA investigator, ARRB Medical Document 56, p7) “Kellerman recalled that when he was in the car just moments after the shots there was '…a splattering of metal all around me.' Kellerman said there had to be '…four or five metal fragments in the car.'” (The Kennedy Detail, by Gerald Blaine, 2010) (Describing Kellerman's actions after hearing a first shot, looking back at the President, and then turning around to pick up the radio and report that the President had been hit) "As he was relaying the message, he heard one bang, and then another."
Analysis: Kellerman’s assertion that he heard three shots and that the limousine was away from the buildings when the first shot rang out is undoubtedly indicative that the first shot came after frame 160. His recollection of a sign being on the side of the road is possibly a reference to the Thornton Freeway sign, adjacent to Kennedy around Z-207, but also possibly a reference to the Stemmons Freeway sign, somewhat further down the road. He is also quite clear that he heard two shots (or more) after the President was hit. In addition his assertion that the third shot occurred after Agent Greer began to accelerate the car is an indication that it may have been fired after frame 313. If one is to defend the LPM line, then perhaps the best way to explain Kellerman’s testimony is to insist he mistakenly interpreted the sound of the bullet fragments hitting the windshield as a third shot, and missed the first shot entirely. While this is certainly possible, it seems unlikely a Secret Service agent would make such a mistake. His statements to the HSCA argue against this as well, as here he remembers the shots and the sounds of the fragments bouncing around the car as separate events. Kellerman was clearly incorrect on one point, however. While Kellerman felt quite sure he heard the President speak after being struck, and Mrs. Kennedy yell out just after, Kellerman didn’t turn to look at the President until Z-255, just after Governor Connally concluded his outbursts. As Mrs. Kennedy, Governor Connally, and Mrs. Connally all failed to hear the President speak after he was shot, it should be obvious that Agent Kellerman heard the Governor, and mistakenly thought he heard the President and the First Lady. Fellow Secret Service Agent Blaine's reporting of Kellerman's statements is also of interest. While writing his book in part as a defense of Kellerman and Greer, Blaine clearly found Kellerman's description of the last two shots problematic, and opted to present the shots to his readers as two separate sounds--which could conceivably be seconds apart. This is not what Kellerman told the Warren Commission. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together. Last shot possibly after the head shot.
Above: a photograph taken by Jim Towner as JFK's limo turned from Houston Street onto Elm Street. This photo is a bit unusual in that it is centered on limo drive William Greer.
William Greer was the driver of the limousine. (12-10-63 FBI report, CD7 p.4, based upon an 11-22-63 FBI interview) “He advised that the throngs of people were great and that he had just emerged from the congested area of people and was proceeding into an open area of the highway, which a short distance away passed beneath an overpass. Greer stated that he first heard what he thought was possibly a motorcycle backfire and glanced around and noticed that the President had evidently been hit. He thereafter got on the radio and communicated with the other vehicles, stating that they desired to get the President to the hospital immediately. Greer stated that at the time this incident occurred, he was traveling at the rate of 12 miles per hour...” (11-27-63 FBI interview, CD7 p.9-11) “Greer estimated that the motorcade was traveling at a speed of 15-20 miles per hour down the main thoroughfare...The procession made a right turn, facing in the direction of the Book Depository Building, and then a left turn, bringing the motorcade in front of this building which was then on the right. The same speed was maintained as the motorcade passed in front of this building and Greer estimates that he had crossed the center line of the building when he heard a noise which sounded like a motorcycle backfire. On hearing this noise he glanced to his right toward Kellerman and out of the corner of his eye noticed that the Governor appeared to be falling toward his wife. He thereafter recalls hearing some type of outcry after which Kellerman said, “Let’s get out of here!” (11-28-63 report, 18H 723) “There was a right turn for about half a block and then a left turn. At this point, I would say that the President's automobile was traveling about 12-15 miles per hour. A short distance ahead the street passed under a railroad or expressway. A building stood on the right side of us that would have been the last building we would have to pass before entering the underpass. The President’s automobile was almost past this building and I was looking at the overpass that we were about to pass under in case someone was on top of it, when I heard what I thought was the backfire of a motorcycle behind the President’s automobile. After the second shot, I glanced over my right shoulder and saw Governor Connally start to fall, I knew then that something was wrong and immediately pushed the accelerator to the floor and Mr. Kellerman said get out of here.” (3-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 2H112-132) (When asked how far they were from the overpass when the first shot rang out) “I wouldn't have a distance recollection… It wasn't too far… Well, when we were going down Elm Street, I heard a noise that I thought was a backfire of one of the motorcycle policemen. And I didn't--it did not affect me like anything else. I just thought that it is what it was… And then I heard it again. And I glanced over my shoulder. And I saw Governor Connally like he was starting to fall. Then I realized there was something wrong. I tramped on the accelerator, and at the same time Mr. Kellerman said to me, "Get out of here fast." And I cannot remember even the other shots or noises that was. I cannot quite remember any more. I did not see anything happen behind me any more, because I was occupied with getting away.” (When asked how many shots he heard) “I know there was three that I heard - three. But I cannot remember any more than probably three. I know there was three anyway that I heard… I knew that after I heard the second one, that is when I looked over my shoulder, and I was conscious that there was something wrong, because that is when I saw Governor Connally. And when I turned around again, to the best of my recollection there was another one, right immediately after.” (When asked how much time elapsed between the first and second shots.) “It seems a matter of seconds, I really couldn't say. Three or four seconds.” (When asked how much time elapsed between the second and third shots.) “The last two seemed to be just simultaneously, one behind the other, but I don't recollect just how much, how many seconds were between the two. I couldn't really say.” (When asked to describe the sound of the second shot when compared to the first) "The second one didn't sound any different much than the first one but I kind of got, by turning around, I don't know whether I got a little concussion of it, maybe when it hit something or not, I may have gotten a little concussion that made me think there was something different to it. But so far as the noise is concerned, I haven't got any memory of any difference in them at all." (When asked if Roy Kellerman yelled to him after the first shot) "I believe it was at the second that he and I both simultaneously--he said, "Get out of here fast," and I speeded up as fast as I could then and as fast as the car would go." (3-11-64 memorandum from Arlen Specter to J. Lee Rankin, found in the Weisberg Archives) "Mr. Greer told me on March 3rd that he recollected two shots, but testified that he heard three shots." (4-7-64, 5-4-64, 5-7-64, 5-8-64, and 7-20-64 interviews of Jacqueline Kennedy by William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On Greer's approaching Mrs. Kennedy at Parkland Hospital) "Those who had been in the motorcade were racking their brains with if only this, if only that. One of them came to her. Bill Greer, his face streaked with tears, took her head between his hands and squeezed until she thought he was going to squeeze her skull flat. He cried, 'Oh, Mrs. Kennedy, oh my God, oh my God. I didn't mean to do it, I didn't hear, I should have swerved the car, I couldn't help it. Oh, Mrs. Kennedy, as soon as I saw it I swerved. If only I'd seen in time! Oh!' Then he released her head and put his arms around her and wept on her shoulder." (11-19-64 interview with author William Manchester RIF#180-10116- 10119) "After the second shot I glanced back. I saw blood on the Governor's white shirt, and I knew we were in trouble. The blood was coming out of his right breast. When I heard the first shot, I had thought it was a backfire. I was tramping on the accelerator and at the same time Roy was saying, 'let's get out of here fast.'" (11-19-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Lawson, Kellerman, Greer, Ready, and Hill, all thought that a firecracker had been exploded." (7-6-66 New York Times article on Greer's retirement, citing an interview with Greer performed earlier that day) "'When the first shot was fired,' he recalled, 'I thought it was a sound I'd heard many times before--a motorcycle backfire. I glanced over my right shoulder and saw a red spot on (Texas Gov. John B.) Connally's shirt. I wasn't sure what had happened but I tramped on the accelerator. At about the same time, Roy Kellerman (another agent in the car) yelled, 'we've been hit.'' Mr. Greer says he did not know the President had been hit until the car reached Parkland Hospital, where he helped put Mr. Kennedy on a stretcher and carry him into the emergency room." (A number of late-1960's phone calls between Greer and researcher Walt Brown as recounted in Brown's Treachery in Dallas, 1995) (Brown describes Greer's claiming he was unsure what to do when he saw so many people standing on the overpass over the motorcade route--in violation of standard protocol. Brown then continues) "With all this going through his mind, he heard a 'backfire,' which he did not immediately recognize as a shot, and then he looked back in time to see Connally begin to react to a wound. He never saw the President, he told me. He added that it was at that time that he hit the gas. I told him that it was several seconds later that the car fully accelerated, and I almost expected to hear a click at his end but instead I heard a deep sigh followed by his answer. The car was in low gear for parades, he told me, and it had to be shifted and then there would be a pause regardless, because of the weight of the heavily armored vehicle..."
(12-6-70 phone interview by Roy Ennis posted on Youtube by Vince Palamara) "I didn't know at first that, whether it was a shot or not. I thought it might be a motorcycle policeman's motorcycle. That's what I said. But then I said that when I looked over my shoulder and saw the blood on the governor's shirt, y'know, on his white shirt, then I knew it was blood coming out. And then I knew it was trouble. (When asked how many times he looked back) "Just the one time, after the governor was hit." (When asked if he saw the president hit) "I didn't really see the president at all...I had a car in front of me and couldn't see very much." (2-28-78 interview with HSCA investigator, file # 180-10099-10491) "The first shot sounded to him like a backfire. He did not react to it. After the second shot he turned to his right and saw blood on Governor Connally's shirt. At the same moment he heard Kellerman say 'We're hit. Let's get out of here,' or words to that effect. He said he immediately accelerated and followed the pilot car to Parkland Hospital...Greer does not recall the third and final shot. He heard nothing from the back of the car; his mind shut it out, and he concentrated on driving at a high rate of speed to Parkland Hospital." (11-22-13 news report on WBTV, showing a segment from a 1983 interview with Greer) "The first shot he thought was a backfire. The second (The segment then cuts to Greer speaking) "I looked over my shoulder like this, and I saw blood running down Governor Connally's white shirt. And then I knew it was trouble." The fatal shot rang out just as he hit the gas." (11-10-83 AP article on Greer found in the Lakeland Ledger) "The motorcade moved into downtown Dallas and turned onto Elm street, moving past the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald waited with a high-powered rifle. Above the noise of the throng that crowded the street, Greer heard a popping sound. The other agents thought the sounds were firecrackers. Greer thought they were made by a motorcycle back-firing. When he heard a second pop, he looked over his right shoulder and saw blood running down Connally's white shirt. Kellerman yelled, "We've been hit! Get out of here!" Greer floored the accelerator. Kellerman grabbed the radio and told the car ahead to make for the nearest hospital. The limousine leaped forward as a third pop sounded. A bullet fragment whipped past Greer's head and smashed into the windshield."
Analysis: Greer probably heard two shots. On the other hand, he may have heard as many as four. While he sometimes reported he turned around and saw Connally fall (an apparent reference to Connally’s collapsing into his wife’s arms between frames 287 and 303) after hearing the second shot, and he can be seen turned around in Zapruder frame 279, he testified before the Warren Commission that the last two shots were simultaneous. He couldn’t have heard two shots before he turned around and two shots after he turned back and still have heard three. As Greer, in his original statement, failed to mention how many shots he heard, and as he only told the Warren Commission he heard three shots after being asked a direct question, it seems possible he was trying to skirt the issue. Still, he let what was probably his true impressions sneak into his testimony. He testified that after Kellerman told him to “take off,” he couldn’t remember how many “shots or noises” he heard--when officially there could be but one. He also let it slip that after he turned back around from looking at Connally, which he does not do till frame 318, he heard another shot “right immediately after.” Sounds like the man heard four shots. That he later told an HSCA investigator he could recall hearing but two shots suggests the possibility he realized his predicament, and had convinced himself that he'd heard but two shots and their echoes.
Still, maybe he interpreted the sounds of the gun fire and impact within the car as separate shots. If so, his testimony regarding the second shot that "I got a little concussion of it, maybe when it hit something or not" would certainly suggest the second shot he heard was the head shot, followed closely by the sounds of the bullet fragments impacting the windshield and its frame. The 12-10 FBI report contributes to the confusion surrounding Greer. Here, Greer reportedly says he saw the President when he turned around and that he used the radio to contact the other cars. From this, it seems likely the author of the report simply got his agents confused. Agent Kellerman, after all, readily admitted to both seeing the President and using the radio. The disparity between what Greer claims to remember and the Zapruder film, however, is not so easily explained. While Greer can be seen looking back into the limousine at frame 279, and turning back around at 292 after Connally begins to fall, he looks back again at frame 302 and appears to be looking directly at the President at the moment of the head shot. Only after this shot has struck the President, around frame 318, does Greer turn back around and accelerate the limousine. This is in disagreement with his statement that he pressed down the accelerator just after seeing the Governor fall. Perhaps, as some suggest, Greer was part of the conspiracy. More likely, however, in light of his trying to avoid the issue of how many shots he heard (not exactly conspirator-like behavior), Greer simply blocked the explosion of the President’s skull out of his mind. Perhaps this was his guilty conscience at work, as he’d failed to take evasive action in a timely fashion. In any event, Greer's testimony that the last two shots were “simultaneous” puts his statements at odds with the LPM scenario.Inconsistent. Possibly heard but two shots. Possibly heard four. May have heard two shots prior to frame 279. Last two shots possibly bunched together (with the last shot probably after the head shot).
Now, unfortunately, it's time we take another look at the murder of the President. Just once. Now, take your eyes off Kennedy and look at the response of the two men in the front seat.
That's Kellerman closest to the camera. He hunkers down in response to the fatal impact, apparently in response to what he called "a flurry of shells" flying into the limo (but which may have been the sound of the bullet erupting into pieces on Kennedy's skull and then striking the windshield and windshield frame). Now look at the driver, William Greer. He is actually looking at Kennedy when the fatal bullet impacted, and not the road. He then immediately turns forward and crouches down.
Now, incredibly, some--no doubt looking at crap copies of the Zapruder film--took from this that Greer shot Kennedy--that he slowed the limo, turned to face him, shot him with a revolver, and then turned back around and drove off. AND THAT NO ONE IN THE LIMO OR ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD NOTICED THIS!
Now, unfortunately this easily-disposable idea took wings, so much so that an entire book (Murder from Within, built upon numerous still-unavailable interviews), was written in its support.
This easily-disposable idea persists, moreover, to this day.
Well, to combat this silliness, the good folks at the JFK Lancer website put up a gif file, taken from the Zapruder film, showing Greer's right hand in front of him at the time of the shooting.
You can see this in the gif below. Greer turns his head to the right, slightly lowering his right hand, just before Kennedy gets hit. But Greer's hand is visible at all times. He never pulls a gun.
Greer didn't shoot Kennedy. Fact.
Further Discussion of the limousine witnesses.
From comparing the words of the witnesses furthest away from the shots to the words of those actually in the limousine, a conflict has emerged. While those furthest away heard the last two shots bunched together, three of the witnesses in the limousine believed two shots were fired before these shots. This raises the possibility that the second shot perceived by these witnesses, the one felt but not heard by Connally, rarely reported as heard by his Mrs., and only possibly heard by Greer, was a silenced shot. Even a silenced shot, after all, makes some noise when impacting its target. That this second probably-silenced shot was not one of the two “bunched” shots heard by the more distant earwitnesses is supported, moreover, by the words of Agents Greer and Kellerman, who heard two or more shots closely bunched together after Connally had been hit. When one reflects on the activities of Mrs. Kennedy and the Connallys during this period--staring at the President as his head explodes and ducking down in their seat as his brain showers down upon them--it's easy to understand how they might miss hearing the second of these last two shots.
There's something else to consider. In 1995, researcher Harold Weisberg wrote former Warren Commission Counsel (and self-appointed Champion of the Commission) David Belin and challenged him regarding his recent articles. On January 31, Belin responded, with a spirited 12-page letter. Included in this letter is the following analogy:
"Your concentration on the affidavit of T.F. Bowley is a vivid example of what I call the 'Kellerman Syndrome'. In the Presidential limousine at the time of the motorcade, Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman, riding in the front seat next to the driver, said he heard President Kennedy say, after the first shot, 'My God, I am hit!' Edward J. Epstein, in his book Inquest, used this as a rationale for disputing the findings of the Warren Commission. Indeed, Epstein was correct in his quotation of what Kellerman said. But what Epstein did not not do is to tell his readers that everyone else in the Presidential limousine disagreed with Kellerman. The driver, William Greer, said the President said nothing. So did Governor Connally. So did Nellie Connally. And the exact words of Jacqueline Kennedy were, 'And my husband never made a sound.' Your case is built on the Roy Kellermans of the world. The Warren Commission conclusions were based on the William Greers, John Connallys, Nellie Connallys, and Jacqueline Kennedys of the world."
Feel free to read that again. And again. Let it sink in. Have you ever read such self-serving nonsense? While Belin wants Weisberg to believe "the Warren Commission conclusions" were based on the testimony of the bulk of the witnesses, he ignores completely that the bulk of the witnesses claimed the last two shots were bunched together, and that the commission accepted (and he now proposed) a five second gap between these shots.
And there's something even more ironic. While Belin offers that the Warren Commission's conclusions were consistent with the recollections of four of the five witnesses in the limousine, he overlooks that their conclusions were actually at odds with ALL five. While the Warren Commission held out the possibility the first shot missed, the statements of all five limousine witnesses suggested the first shot struck Kennedy.
Thus, it is easy to see that the Warren Commission's conclusions were NOT based on the statements of William Greer, John Connally, Nellie Connally, and Jacqueline Kennedy. Belin was blowing smoke.
Let us now peruse the statements of the escorts and bodyguards...
Of Escorts and Bodyguards...and Bodyguards and Escorts
Note: to get a feel for the proximity of these men to Kennedy at the time of the shooting, one should first check out this fine gif by Robin Unger, which was taken from the film of Marie Muchmore. This shows the limousine and back-up car approaching the turn from Houston Street onto Elm.
We can now look at these men after the first shot was fired...
Above: a rarely-seen un-cropped version of the James Altgens photo taken just after the first shot was fired. This shows us seven vehicles in the motorcade, rolling down Elm Street. From L to R: the motorcycle driven by James Chaney, the Presidential limo, Kennedy's Secret Service back-up car (aka "Queen Mary"), the motorcycle driven by Bobby Hargis, the Vice-President's car in the distance, the motorcycle driven by B.J. Martin, and Johnson's Secret Service back-up car in the distance.
Now, before we go on to the statements of some more of Kennedy's bodyguards, we need to check out the statements of his Dallas Police mounted escorts. To refresh, these four motorcyclists rode behind and sometimes beside the limo in the motorcade, to insure that nobody ran out from the crowd at the President or First Lady. So, at first blush, one might call them bodyguards.
But if that's what they were, well, that was news to them. Here, once again is the Nix film. This begins just after the moment in time captured in the Altgens photos above, but before the fatal shot was fired. Yet look at the response of Kennedy's motorcycle escorts. That's right. All four slammed on their brakes and watched as the limo raced off...
Now it should be pointed out that Officer Martin only slowed momentarily, and then proceeded to catch up to the limo. And it should also be pointed out that Officer Hargis raced up to take a look at Kennedy, realized the damage had been done, stopped his bike on the street, and raced up the grassy knoll in pursuit of presumed assassins. (Hargis's riding up and braking is shown below. And yes, that's Clint Hill flying up onto the back of the limo at the end of the clip.)
But it's also a fact that Officers Chaney and Jackson, on the right side of the limo, came to a dead stop when their President (and Governor) were under fire, and only started up again after they'd deduced they were no longer in danger.
It was probably not a coincidence, then, that neither the FBI nor the Warren Commission interviewed Chaney and Jackson in the aftermath of the shooting, and that the FBI only did so in 1975, after this embarrassing over-sight was brought to its attention.
B.J. Martin rode his motorcycle on the far left behind Jackie Kennedy. (4-3-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H289-293): “one of the agents got off of the car after the first shot…I looked to my right (after the first shot)…I looked at the President after I heard the (first) shot and he was leaning forward—I could see the left side of his face. At the time he had no expression on his face” (Then I heard) “Two more shots…immediately after the first shot I saw him (the President) and after that I couldn’t see him.” (8-7-68 interview of Martin, as reported by Tom Bethel and Al Oser, investigators working on behalf New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison) "Officer Martin stated that after the shots were fired--and he heard three--whereas Officer Hargis had heard two--that later he discovered that the left side of his helmet had blood and brain matter, as well as the front of his windshield... Officer Martin never did stop his vehicle...Officer Martin stated that at the time of the assassination the limousine was going at 'about walk speed. It seemed like I could smell gunpowder. I had no idea where the shots came from'...From his experience he has no idea of where the shots came from, but it's logical, he said, that the shots could have come from the right, and possibly from the front in view of the fact that he had been splattered with blood." (2-14-69 testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) “after we turned onto Elm Street I heard what I thought was a shot and then I heard, I looked back to my right and two more shots or what I thought to be two more shots I heard…(Asked if he saw the effects of the third shot) “No, sir, I did not…All during the shots I was looking to my left and right trying to find out where the shots were coming from…it was after the third shot it had almost came to a stop, it was going very slow.” (a 1971 interview of Martin by "Whitney," someone working for researcher Fred Newcomb, as presented by Larry Rivera and Jim Fetzer on the Veterans Today website, 4-3-14) (When told the Zapruder film fails to show the limo stop) "I would’ve sworn that, that it was, uh, the time that he, uh, tried to get up, that the car stopped, and then...the agent – after the shooting? That when he came up to, and jumped up to the back of the car – at that instant is when it stopped, and I believe he lost his balance. And then they started again, and of course was throwing him off and that’s when she turned around and – I thought was trying to help him get up on the, you know, help him up on the back of the limousine." (As quoted by Fred Newcomb in an unpublished manuscript, Murder from Within, 1974) "You could smell the gunpowder…you knew he wasn't far away. When you're that close you can smell the powder burning, why you - you've got to be pretty close to them…you could smell the gunpowder… right there in the street." (The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, 1979) Officer D “I was looking at the President when the first shot was fired. It missed. The second shot hit the President in the back, and the third shot hit him in the head.” (July-August 1988 interview recounted in American History Illustrated, November 1988) "I was riding along...Then there were shots. He had been hit. I was so close to President Kennedy that his blood and tissue from his head splattered over my windshield." Analysis: As all the agents remained on the back-up car until after frame Z-255, (as demonstrated in the Altgens photo) and as Martin claims to have heard only one shot when an agent (Clint Hill) jumped off the back-up car, he heard but one early shot. Although he later said he thought the first shot missed, Martin’s original testimony that the President was leaning forward after the first shot (after 160, the President is smiling and waving) is a strong indication that the first shot hit and occurred after frame 190. The last comments by Martin for The Kennedy Assassination Tapes are not to be trusted. The book’s writer, J. C. Bowles, (who would become the long-time Sheriff of Dallas County) was determined to show everyone that the DPD did not stand by the HSCA’s conclusion that a second shooter was likely. After all, talk of conspiracy would inevitably turn to suspicion of the Dallas Police Department itself, seeing as they had helplessly stood by while Ruby killed Oswald. Perhaps Martin, who is described in the book but not named, simply told Bowles what he wanted to hear. Or perhaps Bowles added to his statements, which could explain why he published the statements without names. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Bobby W. Hargis rode to the right of Martin and to the left of Mrs. Kennedy. (Note: as so many use Hargis' words to support that the fatal bullet impacted on the front of Kennedy's head, or that the limo stopped on Elm Street, I have highlighted quotes touching upon these issues.) (11-22-63 article in the Dallas Times-Herald. Note: in 1995 Hargis would tell researchers Ian Griggs and Mark Oakes that he didn't write this article and that it must have been based on a conversation he'd had with a reporter in a hallway) “About halfway down between Houston and the underpass I heard the first shot. It sounded like a real loud firecracker. When I heard the sound, the first thing I thought about was a gunshot. I looked around and about then Governor Connally turned around and looked at the President with a real surprised look on his face…The President bent over to hear what the Governor had to say. When he raised back up was when the President got shot…I felt blood hit me in the face and the Presidential car stopped almost immediately after that…I racked (parked) my motorcycle and jumped off. I ran to the North side of Elm to see if I could find where the bullets were coming from. I don’t think the President was hit with the first shot… I felt that the Governor was shot first." (Undated typescript of interview with Hargis found within the Dallas-Times-Herald's photograph collection, as reported by Richard Trask in Pictures of the Pain, 1994. This is almost certainly the basis for the 11-22 article) "I felt blood hit me in the face, and the presidential car stopped almost immediately after that and stayed stopped about half a second, then took off at a high rate of speed. I racked my cycle and jumped off. I ran to the north side of Elm Street to see if I could find where the bullets came from. I don't think the President got hit with the first shot, but I don't know for sure. When I heard the first shot, it looked like he bent over. I feel that the Governor was shot first. I could be wrong. Right after the first shot, I was trying to look and see if the President got shot. When I saw the look on Connally's face, I knew somebody was shooting at the car...The fatal bullet struck the President in the right side of the head. I noticed the people in the Texas School Book Depository were looking up to see the top. I didn't know if the President stopped under the triple underpass or not. I didn't know for sure if the shots had come from the Book Depository. I thought they might have come from the trestle." (11-23-63 UPI article found in the Fresno Bee) “I saw flesh flying after the shot, and the president’s hair flew up,” Hargis said, “I knew he was dead.” (11-23-63 article in the Houston Post) "A Dallas motorcycle officer who was riding two feet from the presidential car described to the Houston Post Friday what he saw when a sniper fired the shots that killed President Kennedy and wounded Gov. John B. Connally. 'When the first rifle bullet spewed into the open limousine,' said Patrolman J.H. Hargis, 'The President bent forward in the car.' Hargis, a nine-year veteran of the force, said the first shot hit the governor. 'Then immediately after that,' Hargis said, 'the second shot was fired, striking the President in the right side of the head.' The Secret Service man driving the car immediately picked up the phone inside the car and said "Let's go to the nearest hospital.' Hargis said he jumped off his motorcycle and began a search of the building from which the shots were fired. 'I knew it was high and from the right. I looked for any sign of activity in the windows, but I didn't see anybody.'" (11-24-63 article in the New York Sunday News) "We turned left onto Elm St. off Houston, about a half block from where it happened. I was right alongside the rear fender on the left side of the President's car, near Mrs. Kennedy. When I heard the first explosion, I knew it was a shot. I thought that Gov. Connally had been hit when I saw him turn toward the President with a real surprised look. The President then looked like he was bent over or that he was leaning toward the Governor, talking to him. As the President straightened back up, Mrs. Kennedy turned toward him, and that was when he got hit in the side of his head, spinning it around. I was splattered with blood. Then I felt something hit me. It could have been concrete or something, but I thought at first I might have been hit. Then I saw the limousine stop, and I parked my motorcycle at the side of the road, got off and drew my gun. Then this Secret Service agent (in the President's car) got his wits about him and they took off. The motorcycle officer on the right side of the car was Jim Chaney. He immediately went forward and announced to the chief that the President had been shot."
(4-3-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H293-296): “I was next to Mrs. Kennedy when I heard the first shot, and at that time the President bent over, and Governor Connally turned around. He was sitting directly in front of him, and (had) a real shocked and surprised expression on his face…I thought Governor Connally had been shot first, but it looked like the President was bending over to hear what he had to say, and I thought to myself then that Governor Connally, the Governor had been hit, and then as the President raised back up like that the shot that killed him hit him.” (When asked about the blood) "when President Kennedy straightened back up in the car the bullet him in the head, the one that killed him and it seemed like his head exploded, and I was splattered with blood and brain, and kind of bloody water, It wasn't really blood. And at that time the Presidential car slowed down. I heard somebody say 'Get going' or 'get going.'" (When asked about the source of the shots) "Well, at the time it sounded like the shots were right next to me. There wasn't any way in the world I could tell where they were coming from, but at the time there was something in my head that said that they probably could have been coming from the railroad overpass, because I thought since I had got splattered, with blood--I was Just a little back and left of--just a little bit back and left of Mrs. Kennedy, but I didn't know. I had a feeling that it might have been from the Texas Book Depository, and these two places was the primary place that could have been shot from." (8-7-68 interview with Tom Bethel and Al Oser, investigators working on behalf New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, NARA #180-10096-10005) (When discussing how he could have been sprayed with blood, if the shot came from behind) "Well, that right there is what I've wondered about all along, but see there's ah -- you've got to take into consideration we were moving at the time, and when he got hit all that stuff went like this, and of course I run through it." (When discussing his interpretation of the direction of the shots) "Well, like I say, being that we know that the shot came from the School Book Depository, right then it was kind of hard to say what run through your mind. You know you pick up these little things. You don't know why you do it. You don't know why you do 'em, you just do 'em. It's just kind of instinct. But I had in my mind the shots you couldn't tell where they was coming, but it seemed like the motion of the President's head or his body and the splatter had hit me, it seemed like both the locations needed investigating, and that's why I investigated them. But you couldn't tell, there was -- it looked like a million windows on the Book Depository.You couldn't tell exactly if there was anyone in there with a gun." (When asked if the shots could have come from anywhere) "Uh huh. That's correct." (When asked if he saw the President's head jerk as a response to a bullet's impact) "Yes. Uh huh...To the left forward. Kind of that way...I couldn't see what part of it got hit...If he'd got hit in the rear, I'd have been able to see it. All I saw was just a splash come out on the other side." (a 1971 interview of Hargis by "Whitney," someone working for researcher Fred Newcomb, as presented by Larry Rivera and Jim Fetzer on the Veterans Today website, 4-3-14) (When asked how long the limo stopped) "Oh – you mean after that first shot?...Only about uh, oh 3-4 seconds. Maybe about 5-6. That’s all...but you won’t find that in the Warren Commission report." (When asked if it said the limo stopped) "Ah no I don’t think it didn’t – you’ve seen a rolling stop have you? It’s going less than one mile an hour?...Well that’s what he was doing he wasn’t completely stopped or dead still."
The next three reports were posted on the Education Forum by Chris Scally, 6-21-11. (Interview by HSCA investigators James Kelly and Harold Rose on 10-26-77, notes transcribed 11-16-77, JFK document #003300, RIF 180-10107-10243) ""When they turned left on Elm from Houston, he was watching the President's car. Shortly afterwards, he heard a shot. He saw President Kennedy slump forward and Governor Connally turn. He felt at the time that Connally might have been hit and the President was leaning forward to find out what happened. He said the first shot sounded to him like a firecracker. The second shot hit JFK in the head. The presidential car had slowed almost to a stop. After the second shot, the car accelerated rapidly and sped to Parkland Hospital. Hargis said he pulled over to the curb at the grassy knoll. He got off the bike and went up the hill on the grass. He didn't see anyone with a gun, so he went over to the Texas School Book Depository at 411 Elm Street and helped other police officers seal it off." (Interview by HSCA investigator Jack Moriarty dated 8-8-78, notes transcribed 8-23-78, JFK document #014362, RIF 180-10113-10272) "When the first report sounded, he was "about one-third of the way down Elm", having made the last turn from Houston. It sounded like a firecracker, but he was unable to tell where it came from. He looked to his right and saw Connally turning and the President appeared to be leaning forward as if he was trying to hear what the Governor was saying. He had seen JFK lean forward in like manner during the motorcade as he and Connally had been conversing. This time, though, the President had an expression of pain on his face. When the second shot was fired - no doubt gunfire this time as it hit the President's head - the limousine slowed so much it practically stopped and he had to put his feet down to maintain balance. Then the driver accelerated and several motormen started the escort. Hargis remained behind parking his bike where it stood in the left side of Elm now about one half way down the hill. He ran to the grassy knoll and continued until he had reached the top section of the underpass. Finding nothing significant, he returned to his bike - still on the stand with the radio on (and working) and the engine off. He started the bike and drove back up Elm and parked just west of the front door of the TSBD where he joined Brewer as they became part of the effort to seal off this building, although, he adds, at that time no-one was certain just where the shots had come from." (Interview by HSCA investigator Jack Moriarty, 12-29-78, JFK document # 014224, RIF 180-10109-10354). "Reached Mr. Hargis at his new residence... today and developed the following additional information. At the sound of the first shot, he was "in position" - some five to six feet from the left corner of the rear bumper of John F. Kennedy limousine. At the sound of the second shot, he was a bit closer (the limousine slowed and nearly stopped) - perhaps four feet. By the third shot (although he doesn't recall the actual, but saw John F. Kennedy's head explode), he was "almost even with Jackie - no more than two or three feet, if that."
(Interview with NBC broadcast on the 1988 program That Day In November) "It sounded like a firecracker to me and I thought 'Oh Lord, let it be a firecracker. And it looked like the President was bending over, forward. And then when he raised back up is when that second shot hit him in the head." (5-14-92 video-taped interview with Mark Oakes) "I was trying to catch up to my assigned station when the first shot rang out...I saw Connally turn around...I thought he had been shot. It sounded like a firecracker but then when I saw Connally's face I thought he'd been shot. Which he had...The second shot made his head like a ripe tomato when you shoot it with a gun on the ground. It explodes. That's how his head did. It exploded. Now you got brain matter, blood, and everything else on you" (6-26-95 video-taped interview with Mark Oakes and Ian Griggs) (On the explosion of Kennedy's head) "It didn't only hit me...It showered everything in the car behind it...You put a ripe tomato, and you shoot it with a gun and it splatters. That's what it was...But the first shot sounded like a firecracker...I've been fired at like five times and every one of them sounded like a firecracker--to me..." (Later, after voicing his support for the single-bullet theory) "There was not three shots; there was only two. I only heard two. One got him through the back and one got him through the head. That's it...The facts was there was two shots--one that hit him in the back and one that hit him in the head. And the one that hit him in the head just busted his head wide open. That's it." (On William Greer, the driver of the limo) "That guy slowed down, maybe his orders was to slow down, slowed down almost to a stop." (11-23-95 Dallas Morning News article found in the Herald Journal) "'I'm the only one living who was beside the car,' said Detective Hargis, now 63. 'When he was shot in the head, it splashed up, and I ran into all that brain matter, and all that. It came up and down, all over my uniform." (November 1998 interview with Texas Monthly) “About ten seconds after we made that left-hand turn, that first shot rang out…I remember Kennedy leaned forward to listen to what he had to say. And then when he raised back up, that second shot hit him in the head. But we figured out that he had got shot—that first bullet had gone through the upper part of his back, well through the seat, and hit Connally’s wrist and glanced off and went into his thigh.” (Interview within an 11-22-03 WBAP radio program found on Youtube) "Yeah I looked toward the President and I thought maybe John Connally was hit because he turned around to look at the President. He had a real surprised look on his face. Kennedy was bending over like he was listening to what Connally had to say. When he raised back up, that second shot hit him in the head. That's what killed him, There was only two shots fired." (11-22-03 article in the Dallas Morning News) “Hargis differs with the Warren Commission and most eyewitnesses, insisting that only two shots were fired. With the first, “a thousand million things went through my mind,” he says. After the last, “there was a plume of blood and brains and plasma. It was just like a fog, and I ran right through it.” (Oral History interview performed for the Sixth Floor Museum, 9-24-10) (When asked if his observations suggested that the fatal shot came from in front of Kennedy) "No." (When asked if it bothered him that people use his statements to suggest there'd been a conspiracy) "Yeah, it does...There was no conspiracy, whatsoever. There was two shots fired, and both shots, we found the bullet." (On the possibility there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll) "To me it sounds ludicrous." (11-22-13 article in The New York Post) "Few people were closer to President Kennedy’s assassination than the Dallas motorcycle cop who got splattered with his blood and gore. Bobby Hargis was riding a Harley-Davidson just behind and to the left of the Lincon Continental convertible that carried Kennedy through Dealey Plaza. The motorcade was moving so slowly, Hargis said, that “I had a hard time holding my Harley up. I never let it fall, but I had to use my kickstand quite a bit.” “People were so happy and they were crowding into the street,” Hargis said — until the shots that killed Kennedy cracked the air. “I saw him being struck. Big plume of brains and blood. I rode right through the plume. I didn’t even notice it,” said Hargis, 81. As chaos erupted, Hargis parked the bike and ran into the Book Depository looking for the shooter. Later, he recalled, “Another officer said to me, ‘You’ve got something on your lip.’ It was part of (Kennedy’s) brains.” Hargis said the shooting left him feeling guilty that and his colleagues had failed to protect the president. “Until then, I was real proud to be a police officer,” he said. “It seemed like we didn’t have it all together. We could have done better.” He also can’t forget how quickly things changed when Oswald opened fire. “One minute (Kennedy’s) so happy. They’re smiling and everybody’s happy. The crowd was happy,” he said. “And it was all just destroyed.” Analysis: Hargis insists he heard only two shots. As he can be seen in the Zapruder film turning towards the President around frame 198, it seems likely the first shot he heard was just before this point. The fact that he heard only one more shot can be taken as an indication that one of the two shots heard by others was fired quite close to one of the two he heard, or that one came just after the head shot, while Hargis was driving through a cloud of blood. It should also be noted that many conspiracy theorists, most usually citing Vincent Palamara, use Hargis' Warren Commission testimony to suggest that William Greer stopped the limo to allow Kennedy's killers to fire upon a stationary target. Well, this is a myth, as Hargis specified in his statements and testimony that he thought the limo slowed (or stopped, as he'd originally claimed) only after Kennedy's head had exploded. Only heard 2 shots. First shot hit 190-224.
The proximity of Bobby Hargis and our next witness James Chaney to Kennedy at the time of the shooting is perhaps best demonstrated in the photos below.
Here is a crop from the Altgens photo. That's Hargis on the right side of the photo (Kennedy's left) and Chaney on the left side of the photo (Kennedy's right).
Now, the zoom lens used by Altgens distorted this image a bit, so that it looks like Chaney is right beside the limo, looking at Kennedy, when he is not.
His actual location is better demonstrated in the Moorman photo below, which was taken roughly three seconds later.
This Polaroid, taken by Mary Moorman roughly 1/9 of a second after Kennedy had received his fatal blow, is normally presented in a cropped fashion, with bystander William Newman (on the north curb of Elm St. at far right) and motorcycle officer James Chaney (on the motorcycle just in front of Newman) cropped out of the photo. This is mighty convenient, as Newman and Chaney were two of the witnesses first interviewed by the media, with each of them claiming the impact of the fatal blow was not on the back of Kennedy's head, but by Kennedy's right temple (Newman) and face (Chaney). Only adding to this convenience, moreover, was that neither Newman nor Chaney--nor Newmans's wife Gayle, just out of view, nor Chaney's partner Douglas Jackson, just out of view--were called to testify before the Warren Commission.
Note: the other witnesses in this photo are Abraham Zapruder and Marilyn Sitzman (on the pedestal in the distance above Chaney's head), motorcycle officer B.J. Martin (whose arm can be seen at bottom right), motorcycle officer Bobby Hargis (the motorcycle officer nearest the limousine), the occupants of the limousine, and three witnesses (F. Lee Mudd, Emmett Hudson, and an unidentified black man) standing on the steps in the distance at left.
James Chaney rode to the right and rear of the President. Although he was the closest witness behind the President at the time of the shooting and had a private conversation with Jack Ruby the next day, Chaney was not questioned by the FBI about the assassination until 1975. He was never questioned by the Warren Commission. (11-22-63 interview with KLIF radio, reportedly around 12:45 PM--but not broadcast at that time--as presented on the KLIF album The Fateful Hours. Note: parts of this interview were also played in the 1976 CFTR radio program Thou Shalt Not Kill.) "On the first shot we thought it was a motorcycle backfire. I looked to my left and so did President Kennedy, looking back over his left shoulder, and when the second shot struck him in the face then we knew that someone was shooting at the President." (When asked what happened after the President was hit) "He slumped forward in the car. He fell forward into the seat there." (When asked Mrs. Kennedy's reaction) "I don't know. When I seen that he was hit well I went on up ahead to tell Chief Curry's group there that he had been hit there, and we took him on to the hospital from there." (When then asked if he saw where the bullet had come from) "No, all I knew is it come over my right shoulder."(Note: some sources have it that Chaney mentioned “a third shot that was fired that (he) did not see hit the President” and that he did see “Governor Connally’s shirt erupt in blood..” in one of his first interviews, but I can not find a primary source for these quotes.) (Article in the 12-2-63 issue of Newsweek, presumed to be based on an 11-22-63 interview of Chaney at Parkland Hospital by motorcade witness Charles Roberts) (On the first shot) "'I thought it was a backfire,' said Dallas Patrolman James M. Chaney, who was riding a motorcycle 6 feet from the right rear fender of the President's car." The President jerked his head around...Then (came) the second shot and his head exploded in blood..." (11-22-63 interview with Bill Lord on WFAA television, apparently in the early evening) “I was riding on the right rear fender... We had proceeded west on Elm Street at approximately 15-20 miles an hour. We heard the first shot. I thought it was a motorcycle backfiring and uh I looked back over to my left and also President Kennedy looked back over his left shoulder. Then, the, uh, second shot came, well, then I looked back just in time to see the President struck in the face by the second bullet. He slumped forward into Mrs. Kennedy’s lap, and uh, it was apparent to me that we were being fired upon. I went ahead of the President’s car to inform Chief Curry that the President had been hit. And then he instructed us over the air to take him to Parkland Hospital and he had Parkland Hospital stand by. I went on up ahead of the, to notify the officers that were leading the escort that he had been hit and we're gonna have to move out." (When asked if he saw the person who fired on the President) "No sir, it was back over my right shoulder.” (At the end of the interview, Bill Lord, now back in the studio, adds "This patrolman was so close to the president that following the three shots his uniform was spattered with blood." (11-23-63 article in the Houston Post) "Dallas Police Motorcycle Officer J. M. Chaney told a Houston Post reporter that he was riding about six feet from the right rear fender of the President's car. He heard two shots that seemed to come over his right shoulder, he said. He said the President turned his face around over his left shoulder to look back after the first shot and was hit by the second shot in the left side of the head. Chaney said he did not know if the first shot hit anybody or not." (11-24-63 article in the Houston Chronicle, posted online by Chris Davidson) "A motorcycle policeman just six feet from President Kennedy when he was hit said the assassin's first shot missed entirely. The second of the three shots felled Kennedy, said patrolman James M. Chaney. He was six feet to the right and front of the President's car, moving about 15 miles an hour while rounding a curve. The shot, said Chaney, came from the sixth floor of a warehouse building about 50 feet or less behind the President's car. From the sixth floor to the President, the bullet traveled about 110 feet, Chaney estimated. Chaney was an infantryman in Europe during World War II, with experience in sharpshooting. 'When the first shot was fired, I thought it was a backfire,' Chaney said. Everyone looked around. The President was looking back over his left shoulder. A second or two after the first shot, the second shot hit him. 'It was like you hit him in the face with a tomato. Blood went all over the car. There was screaming and yelling. A secret service man yelled 'Let's get out of here!'' Chaney said the motorcade stopped momentarily after the shots rang out. A policeman ran between two cars with his pistol drawn, heading toward the building. 'I sped to the lead car carrying Chief (Jesse) Curry and Forrest Sorrels, chief of the secret service division of the Treasury Department in the Dallas area. I told them the President had been hit and it appeared bad,' Chaney said. 'A piece of his skull was lying on the floor of the car,' Chaney said." (12-8-63 AP article by Sid Moody) "His head erupted in blood" said Dallas patrolman James Chaney, who was 6 feet away from the president." (The Torch is Passed, a book by the Associated Press put out in December 63) "'His head exploded in blood,' motorcycle officer James Chaney later would say."
(3-25-64 testimony of Marrion Baker before the Warren Commission, 3H242-270) “I talked to Jim Chaney, and he made the statement that the two shots hit Kennedy first and then the other one hit the Governor.” (Taped interview of Chaney with researcher Gil Toft, presumably from 1971, as transcribed by Josiah Thompson and posted on the Education Forum, 1-4-12. On 4-3-14, a slightly different version of this transcript was presented by Larry Rivera and Jim Fetzer on the Veterans Today website. They credited this interview to "Whitney," someone working for researcher Fred Newcomb, however) (When asked if Kennedy's limousine came to a stop during the shooting) "I don’t know whether the lead car ever stopped or not. I know that... I mean Kennedy’s car. The one behind them apparently did because an officer could run from the left hand side in front of me. I know I stopped. Whatever happened there. I know Hargis, one of the officers riding escort on the other side, run across in front of me...Whether or not the lead car stopped... I don’t believe that it did. It slowed down though. What was this agent’s name? Clint Hill?" (Continuing his thought) "Slowed down enough that he did get on that car. Now whether he was on there or not on... Several different times during the procession there he would run up and jump on those little steps and ride there for a couple of seconds and jump off. It all depended on how fast it was going along and where we were at. So whether... I don’t believe that it actually stopped. It could have but I just don’t... The second car... cause I recall it was Officer Hargis jumped off his motor and run across in front of me... I don’t recall myself stopping but as I stopped--to think of it I must have come almost to a stop for Hargis to have got off his motor over on the left-hand side and run between those two cars and run in front of me. Apparently, I did too. I don’t recall stopping but I must have." (When asked if Kennedy's brain matter sprayed everywhere) "Well, it was all over with as soon as you see it. It did splatter everything." (As quoted by Newcomb in Murder from Within, published 1974, mixed in with comments from Stavis Ellis and Douglas Jackson) "The two motorcycle officers on the right rear of the limousine were closer to the President than those on the left. James M. Chaney, on the right, stated that all four were hit with the 'spray.' The bloody condition of Chaney's motorcycle and clothes were later noted by Sgt. Stavis Ellis at Parkland Hospital. Also on the right rear of the limousine was Douglas L. Jackson, who stated he was not hit. This is possible because Jackson had to lag behiind the limousine and was about 10 feet away from it at the time of the fatal shot. Officer Chaney, who was riding in front of Jackson, could have screened him."
(9-12-75 FBI report) “Chaney stated that as the President’s car passed the…(TSBD), he was four to six feet from the President’s right shoulder. He heard three evenly spaced noises coming seconds apart, which at first he thought to be motorcycle backfire. Upon hearing the second noise, he was sure it was not a motorcycle backfire. When he heard the third noise he saw the President’s head “explode” and realized the noises were gunshots. He said that the shots did not come from his immediate vicinity and is positive that all the shots came from behind him.” (9-17-75 FBI report, FBI file 62-109060, sec 181, p168-170) “after making a left turn off Houston Street and shortly after the car had passed the School Book Depository, Chaney heard a noise which sounded like one of the motorcycles close to the President’s car had backfired…Chaney said he glanced to his left at the two motorcycles on the opposite side of the President’s car…Within a few seconds after Chaney heard the first noise, he heard a noise again and turned to his right to try and determine what the noise was and where it was coming from…Chaney said he then looked straight ahead to avoid colliding with the curb and presidential car and then looked at the President just as he heard a third noise. Chaney said while he was looking at President Kennedy, he saw his head “explode.” Chaney said he was positive that all the noises he heard were coming from behind his motorcycle and none of these noises came from the side or the front of the position in which Chaney was located. Chaney said the noises were evenly spaced.” Analysis: it seems apparent that Chaney initially believed the first shot missed the President, but then came to presume this shot hit Connally. He then decided it was a third shot that hit Connally, and the first shot missed. So he's not a very good witness. Chaney was consistent, however, in that he claimed he saw a second shot hit (or at least erupt from) the right side of the President s face. Chaney’s statement that Kennedy looked back over his left shoulder, for that matter, indicates the first shot was a hit, as Kennedy only leaned to the left after being hit. Another curiosity about Chaney's statements, and one oft-overlooked, is that he said a shot (presumably the head shot) came from over his right shoulder. Well, think about it. A shot from the sniper's nest would have come over his left shoulder, not right. Might this be taken as an indication, then, that Chaney's initial impression of the origin of the shot was that it came from the area just west of the school book depository, and not from the sniper's nest window, almost directly behind? That Chaney, the closest witness behind Kennedy at the time of the head shot, believed or claimed to believe there was a shot after the head shot, moreover, is also intriguing. As he saw no impact from this final shot on the President, perhaps his eyes strayed to Connally as Connally was being pulled down in the seat by his wife. If this is so, then Chaney’s initial statements are consistent with those of Greer, Kellerman, and Martin. In any event, it seems clear that by 1975 Chaney had changed his views yet again, and had tried to bring them in line with the "official" story. Here. the head shot is the third shot. As the Altgens photo, taken at Z-255, a second-and-a-half after what the LPM scenario holds was the second shot, shows Chaney to be looking to his left, and as Chaney's 1975 story specified that he looked back to his right after the second shot, however, his new story was still at odds with the LPM scenario. First shot hit 190-224. Last shot after the head shot.
Douglas Jackson rode the motorcycle on the far right of the President. He was also never questioned by the Warren Commission. (Notes written on the night of 11-22-63 as reprinted in The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, 1979): Officer C “we turned west onto Elm Street. Drove only a short way traveling very slowly. About that time I heard what I thought was a car back fire and I looked around and then to the President’s car in time for the next explosion and saw Mr. Connally jerk back to his right and it seemed that he look right at me. I could see a shocked expression on his face and I thought 'Someone is shooting at them.' I began stopping my motor and looking straight ahead first at the Railroad overpass and saw only one Policeman standing on the track directly over the street. I looked then back to my right and behind me then looked back toward Mr. Kennedy and saw him hit in the head; he appeared to have been hit just above the right ear. The top of his head flew off away from me. Mrs. Kennedy pulled him toward her. Mrs. Connally pulled Mr. Connally down and she slid down into the seat. I knew that the shooting was coming from my right rear and I looked back that way but I never did look up. Looking back to the front again I saw the Secret Service Agent lying down across the car over Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, the presidential limousine was beginning to pick up speed and the Secret Service men were running past the presidential car drawing their guns as they ran. I said to Jim Chaney "Let's go with them" and we sped away, he pulled past the President's car and up toward Chief Curry's car.” (a 1971 interview of Jackson by Gil Toft--using the name John Whitney--who was working for researcher Fred Newcomb, as quoted by Fred Newcomb in Murder from Within, an unpublished manuscript from 1974) "Mr. Connally was looking toward me. And about that time then the second shot went off. That's the point when I knew that somebody was shooting at them because that was the time he [Connally] got hit - because he jerked. I was looking directly at him…he was looking…kind of back toward me and…he just kind of flinched." "…that car just all but stopped…just a moment." (Toft's interview of Jackson as presented by Larry Rivera and Jim Fetzer on the Veterans Today website, 4-3-14) (When asked how he liked watching the Zapruder film) "I liked it. The only thing is I thought that caravan stopped and it didn’t." (Toft's interview of Jackson as quoted by Josiah Thompson in Last Second in Dallas, 2020) (When asked if he was hit by any of the debris exploding from JFK's skull) "I guess his brains and hair or what have you that came off the top of his head went towards Hargis and B. J. Martin on the left side of the car." ( (9-17-75 FBI report, FBI file 62-109060, sec 181, p171-173) “As the presidential vehicle was proceeding down Elm Street, and Jackson was turning the corner from Houston to Elm Street, he heard a loud report which he first thought to be a motorcycle backfire. He looked at the Presidential car to see what the reaction was and observed Texas Governor John Connally turn to his right in the car. At the same time he heard a second noise and saw Connally jerk to his right. At this point, Jackson had just rounded the corner from Houston to Elm Street and he recognized the second noise as a definite gunshot. At this point, he was 15 to 20 feet away from the Presidential vehicle and he stopped his motorcycle in the street and looked toward the railroad overpass, directly in front of the Presidential car. He observed a police officer with his hands on his hips, looking toward the Presidential car. As this appeared normal, he then looked to his right and rear in the direction of the Texas School Book Depository and the intersection of Houston and Elm Street and observed many bystanders falling to the ground. He looked toward the Presidential vehicle and at the same time heard a third shot fired. He observed President Kennedy struck in the head above his right ear and the impact of the bullet exploded the top portion of his head, toward the left side of the Presidential vehicle. Jackson immediately knew that Kennedy had been hit and that the shot had been fired from his right rear. He turned and looked back at the intersection of Houston and Elm Street, however, did not look up at the windows in any of the buildings. When he looked back toward the Presidential car, a Secret Service agent was climbing onto the trunk of the vehicle and the car was picking up speed. Jackson then told Officer Chaney that they should go with the vehicle and Chaney proceeded forward to Chief Curry's car and then cleared the way toward Parkland Hospital...Jackson advised he had recognized three distinct noises at the time President Kennedy was shot and could identify two as definitely being gunfire. He further stated he is positive the shot that struck President Kennedy in the head was fired from the right rear, the vicinity of the Texas School Book Building." Analysis: while Jackson's statements suggest there was a first shot miss as they turned the corner, that Connally was hit by the second shot and looked to his right, and that there was a final head shot, there are holes in this. First, at what point does Connally turn far enough to his right to look at Jackson? Not until Z-280 or so. Is that when Jackson heard the second shot? And, at what point does Jackson stop his motorcycle? While Jackson says it was after the second shot, the Nix film shows that Jackson only slowed his motorcycle after Kennedy was struck in the head! This could indicate that Jackson heard a shot (a first shot hit) looked around, looked back to Connally, heard the head shot, slammed on his brakes, and heard the third shot as he looked up and saw the President’s wounds. Still, since he distinctly remembered seeing a piece of the President’s skull fly away, it would seem he saw the actual impact. This raises the possibility that he heard a shot, looked around, saw Connally jerk to his right and then fall back into the car after being hit by a silent bullet, saw the President’s head explode, heard a shot, slammed on his brakes, and looked back to the President as a third shot rang out, but then got himself mixed-up when he tried to make sense of the movements and the shots. Another possibility is that he was simply mistaken about when he stopped his motorcycle in relation to the shots. In any event, one can not honestly say Jackson's statements clearly support the LPM theory, or any other theory. Even so, his notes are intriguing in that his initial impression of the fatal shot was that Kennedy had been hit above the right ear, and not on the back of the head. Curiously, Jackson was not interviewed by Hoover’s FBI after the assassination, nor was he called before the Warren Commission. Possible LPM scenario. Possible first shot hit 190-224. Last two shots possibly bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
The Changing of the Guards
In order to place the statements of the occupants of the Presidential follow-up car in context, one first needs to familiarize oneself with the photographs of Hugh Betzner, Phil Willis, and James Altgens. Betzner’s photograph, taken just before he heard a shot, was later shown to correspond to Z-186; Willis’ photograph, taken just after he heard a shot, was shown to correspond to Z-202; and Altgens’ photograph, taken a few seconds after he first heard a shot, was shown to correspond to Z-255. (The memories of all three photographers are therefore consistent and suggestive that the first shot came at Z-190.) In these photos, the reactions of the President’s guards, or lack thereof, are made clear.
Sam Kinney was the driver of the Presidential back-up car. (11-22-63 report, 18H732) “The first shot was fired as we were going into an underpass…it appeared that he (the President) had been shot because he slumped to the left. Immediately, he sat up again. At this time, the second shot was fired and I observed hair flying from the right side of his head…I did hear three shots but do not recall which shots were those that hit the President.” (11-30-63 report, 18H730-731) “As we completed the left turn and on a short distance, there was a shot…I saw the President lean toward the left and appeared to have grabbed his chest with his right hand. There was a second of pause and then two more shots were heard. Agent Clint Hill jumped from the follow-up car and dashed to the aid of the President and first Lady in the President’s car. I saw one shot strike the President in the right side of the head.” (2-19-65 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the head shot) "Sam Kinney, seeing the back of the President's head erupt, stomps on his siren button with his left foot to alert Kellerman and Greer." (2-26-78 interview with HSCA investigator, file #180-10078-10493) “Kinney immediately recognized the first sound as that of gunfire, realizing that it was a 'shot from over our right shoulder' which hit the president in the throat. The President, his movement (in Kinney's opinion) affected by the brace he wore, fell toward Jackie, who, 'after catching him, set him back'…'While Jackie was setting him back up, Connally turns right, then left, then pow, pow. The second shot' (hit Connally and) 'left Connally’s back open.' 'The third shot hit the President.' As the third shot landed, SA Kinney was able to see 'hair coming up.'” (11-22-93 interview on the Today Show put up on Youtube by Vince Palamara) "I saw the President grab his neck. And then by that time there was two following shots, just like a pow...pow." (3-5-94 and 4-15-94 interviews with Vince Palamara, as reported by Palamara in January 1996's JFK Deep Politics Quarterly) "However, it was during interviews conducted on 3/5/94 and 4/15/94 that Kinney totally amazed me with details concerning his first-hand observations of the President's wounds. Sam told me twice that he saw the back of JFK's head come off immediately when the fatal shot struck him. (Kinney was watching JFK's head and the rear bumper of the limo--as a normal part of his duty to maintain a 5' distance between the follow-up car and JFK's limo, something he had done many times). Sam told me, 'It was the right rear--I saw that part blow out.' He added that his windshield and left arm were hit with blood and brain matter immediately after the head shot. Once at Parkland Hospital, Kinney helped remove the President from the back seat of the car, with help from Clint Hill, Roy Kellerman, and Dave Powers. This gave him an extremely vivid, up-close look at JFK's head wound. 'His brain was blown out," Kinney said, '...there was nothing left!' I pressed further, learning, 'There was brain matter all over the place...he had no brains left in his head'...Kinney, who believes there was a conspiracy (although he believes Oswald was the only shooter), wanted his story told... As for the shooting on Elm Street, Kinney was adamant, on 3 separate calls, that he 'saw all three shots hit' and that 'the second shot hit Connally and he agrees with me.'" (3-5-94 and 4-15-94 interviews with Palamara, as quoted in the Summer 1997 Kennedy Assassination Chronicles) (Kennedy) “Would have survived the first one, probably. The second shot hit Connally right in the back…I saw all three shots hit.” (On the head wound) "He had no brain left. It was blown out...there was nothing left...the back of the head...I saw it hit and I saw his hair come out...I had brain matter all over my windshield and left arm, that's how close we were to it...It was the right rear part of his head, because that's the part I saw blown out. I saw hair come out, the piece blow out, then the skin went back in--an explosion in and out." ((The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine, 2010) "Follow-up car driver Sam Kinney's responsibility was to maintain his focus on the President's car. He saw Kennedy's reaction to the first shot and then saw Clint (Hill) leap onto the pavement a split second later. He immediately turned the follow-up car to the right to clear a path for Clint to reach the President and First Lady. His eyes were still focused on President Kennedy when he heard the second shot and saw Governor Connally slump toward his wife...In the driver's seat of the follow-up car, Sam Kinney clearly heard the loud crack of the third shot. Like Jack Ready, his gaze was transfixed on Kennedy's head." (11-21-13 Palm Beach Post article on Kinney's connection to the assassination) "In a television interview a decade later, Kinney, who had retired here to Palm Springs, raised his hand to his throat, an eerie reenactment of the fatal moment when the first shot hit Kennedy. “I saw the president grab his neck,” Kinney told the interviewer. “By that time, there were two following shots, pow, pow....” (Question: is this the same interview posted by Palamara? If so, someone's date for this interview is off...by 20 years.) Analysis: Kinney’s initial statement was that the second shot caused the President’s hair to fly up. He then backtracked and said he was not sure if it was the second or third. In his next report he simply claimed that after a second of pause two more shots were heard. He thereafter tried to connect the second shot to Connally’s wounds, not realizing that Connally had been hit long before JFK fell toward Jackie. Even so, it's interesting that Gerald Blaine, in his book the Kennedy Detail, a book written to convince the public the Secret Service was not involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, and that Kennedy was not even killed by a conspiracy, chooses to use Kinney's latter day statements--which are in DIRECT conflict with his earliest statements--to support a three shots/three hits scenario. Clearly, he saw that, in order to not dismiss Kinney, he would have to either trust his earliest statements--which suggest the last two shots were fired closely together and that there was more than one shooter--or his latter statements--which completely undermine the single-bullet theory. It's interesting he chose the latter. Perhaps Blaine, like Governor Connally and Warren Commissioners Russell and McCloy before him, simply failed to fathom that without the single-bullet theory, the single-assassin conclusion was sunk. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot probably after the head shot).
Emory Roberts sat next to Kinney in the front seat of the back-up car. He was directly behind the President. (11-22-63 report, 18H739) “at 12:30 PM, two or three shots were fired, at which time I saw the President lean over on Mrs. Kennedy. I knew he was hit. Just as the second or third shot was fired, Hill ran from follow-up car to president’s car... I could not determine from what direction the shots came, but felt they had come from the right side. I immediately asked everyone on car to look to see if they could determine where the shots came from, no one seemed to know.” (11-29-63 report, 18H733-738) “12:30 PM: First of three shots fired, at which time I saw the President lean toward Mrs. Kennedy. I do not know if it was the next shot or third shot that hit the President in the head, but I saw what appeared to be a small explosion on the right side of the President’s head, saw blood, at which time the President fell further to his left... Just after the third shot was fired, I picked up the car radio and said “Halfback (code name for SS. follow-up car) to Lawson, the President has been hit.” (4-28-64 signed statement in the Secret Service report on the behavior of the presidential detail on the night before the shooting, 18H679) "Special agents Ready, Lawton, McIntyre, Bennett and myself arrived at the Texas Hotel on November 21, 1964, at approximately 11:50 P.M., (which was a few minutes after the president arrived) and I went directly to my room where I remained until I got up to report for duty. (Note: Roberts reported for duty at 7:20 A.M., 18H679) (12-4-64 and/or 4-26-65 interview with William Manchester, as reported in the TV documentary "The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After," 2009) "I looked at the President. He was leaning to the left, toward Mrs. Kennedy. Then the other shot hit him in the back of the head. I saw what appeared to be a small explosion on the right side of the President's head. And there was never any doubt in my mind that he was dead." (12-4-64 and 4-26-65 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Emory Roberts recognized Oswald's first shot as a shot." (On the head shot) "From his seat beside Kinney, Roberts had seen the last shot strike Kennedy's skull. He was certain the wound was mortal, and he had assessed the implications at once." (Interview with Kennedy Detail author and fellow SS agent Gerry Blaine on Kansas City radio station 98.9, 11-12-10) (On whether any shots came from the front) "You know, one of the strange things, the driver of the follow-up car and the shift leader were not called before the Warren Commission and both of those gentleman watched each shot hit its mark." (4-15-11 article in Dome Magazine) "Emory Roberts, in his initial report of the event, a report uncharacteristically shared with son Doug, wrote that “two or three shots were fired,” Doug recalls. “I asked him, ‘How come you don’ t know whether it’s two or three?’ And he answered me, ‘Because the brain is not a tape recorder.’" Analysis: Roberts, as Kinney, was being deliberately vague. If there had been a five second gap between the second and third shots, he would certainly have noted it and reported it. He knew that it was after the third shot that he picked up the radio. For him to express any confusion about the second and third shots is therefore an indication that the shots were bunched together. His interview with Manchester certainly suggests as much; for there, he only described two shots. Blaine's assertion many years later is also of interest. Presumably, Roberts told others on the detail he saw the second shot hit Connally. But, if this was so, why did he, as Kinney, fail to say as much in their official reports? Perhaps then, the most we can take from Blaine's comment is that members of the Kennedy detail never bought into the single-bullet theory, and felt the Warren Commission's avoidance of Kinney and Roberts--two of the closest witnesses--was not a coincidence. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot possibly after the head shot).
Now, here's a blow-up from the Altgens photo of the Secret Service back-up car. Keep in mind that this was taken after the first shot heard by most witnesses was fired. From L to R: Agent John Ready (on the right side of the car and looking back), Agent Paul Landis (on the right side of the car and looking back), Agent Emory Roberts (on the front seat of the car and looking at Kennedy), Agent Glen Bennett (on the back seat of the car and looking to his right), Kennedy assistant Dave Powers (on the middle seat of the car and looking at Kennedy), Agent Sam Kinney (in the driver's seat of the car and looking at Kennedy), Agent George Hickey (on the back seat of the car and looking back), Agent Clint Hill (on the left side of the car and looking at Kennedy), and Agent Tim McIntyre (on the left side of the car and looking to his right). Kennedy assistant Kenneth O'Donnell is unseen, and is presumably behind Kinney.
If the first shot fired at Kennedy had missed (as claimed by some know-nothings and presented on TV ad nauseum), why did so many of those in the back-up car look at him after this shot, and conclude he'd been hit?
Clint Hill rode on the outside of the back-up car by the driver’s door. His failed attempt at reaching the President before the fatal head shot was fired made him a legend. (11-30-63 report, 18H740-745) “On the left hand side was a grass area with a few people scattered along it observing the motorcade passing, and I was visually scanning these people when I heard a noise similar to a firecracker. The noise came from my right rear and I immediately moved my head in that direction. In so doing, my eyes had to cross the Presidential automobile and I saw the President hunch forward and then slump to his left. I jumped from the follow-up car and ran toward the Presidential automobile. I heard a second firecracker type noise but it had a different sound—like the sound of shooting a revolver into something hard. I saw the President slump more toward his left. I jumped onto the left rear step of the Presidential automobile. Mrs. Kennedy shouted, "They've shot his head off;" then turned and raised out of her seat as if she were reaching to her right rear toward the back of the car for something that had blown out. I forced her back into her seat and placed my body above President and Mrs. Kennedy. SA Greer had, as I jumped onto the Presidential automobile, accelerated the Presidential automobile forward. I heard ASAIC Kellerman call SA Lawson on the two-way radio and say, "To the nearest hospital, quick." I shouted as loud as I could at the Lead car, "To the hospital, to the hospital." As I lay over the top of the back seat I noticed a portion of the President's head on the right rear side was missing and he was bleeding profusely. Part of his brain was gone. I saw a part of his skull with hair on it lieing in the seat...At approximately 2:45 A.M., November 23, I was requested by ASAIC to come to the morgue to once again view the body. When I arrived the autopsy had been completed and ASAIC Kellerman, SA Greer, General McHugh and I viewed the wounds. I observed a wound about six inches down from the neckline on the back just to the right of the spinal column. I observed another wound on the right rear portion of the skull. Attendants of the Joseph Gawler Mortuary were at this time preparing the body for placement in the casket.” (3-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 2H132-144) “Well, as we came out of the curve, and began to straighten up, I was viewing the area which looked to be a park. There were people scattered throughout the entire park. And I heard a noise from my right rear, which to me seemed to be a firecracker. I immediately looked to my right and, in so doing, my eyes had to cross the Presidential limousine and I saw President Kennedy grab at himself and lurch forward and to the left... I jumped from the car, realizing that something was wrong, ran to the Presidential limousine. Just about as I reached it, there was another sound, which was different than the first sound. I think I described it in my statement as though someone was shooting a revolver into a hard object--it seemed to have some type of an echo.” (On what he saw upon arrival at Parkland) "The right rear portion of his head was missing. It was lying in the rear seat of the car. His brain was exposed. There was blood and bits of brain all over the entire rear portion of the car. Mrs. Kennedy was completely covered with blood. There was so much blood you could not tell if there had been any other wound or not, except for the one large gaping wound in the right rear portion of the head." (When asked if he saw any wound other than the head wound at the autopsy) "I saw an opening in the back, about 6 inches below the neckline to the right-hand side of the spinal column." (When asked if had an impression of the direction from which the second shot had been fired) "It was right, but I cannot say for sure that it was rear, because when I mounted the car it was--it had a different sound, first of all, than the first sound that I heard. The second one had almost a double sound--as though you were standing against something metal and firing into it, and you hear both the sound of a gun going off and the sound of the cartridge hitting the metal place, which could have been caused probably by the hard surface of the head. But I am not sure that that is what caused it." (Signed statement in the 5-5-64 Secret Service report on the behavior of the presidential detail on the night before the shooting, 18H685) "I departed the Texas Hotel between 1:15 A.M. and 1:30 A.M and went to the Press Club, Fort Worth, arriving there about five minutes after departure from the Texas Hotel. While there I consumed the (?) glass of scotch and water and purchased two packs of cigarettes. I departed the Press Club at approximately 1:45 A.M. I then went to a place known as "The Cellar, arriving there at approximately 1:50 A.M. While at The Cellar I was served a beverage which I can best describe as grape fruit juice and soda. It was called a 'Salty Dick.' I did not drink the entire drink. I departed The Cellar at approximately 2:45 A.M. and returned to my room in the Texas Hotel." (Note: Hill reported for duty at 8:05 A.M.) (11-18-64 and 5-20-65 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Lawson, Kellerman, Greer, Ready, and Hill all thought that a firecracker had been exploded." (Presumed interview on an unknown date with Jim Bishop, as presented in Bishop's book The Day Kennedy Was Shot, 1968) (Note: while Bishop fails to mention an interview of Hill in his book, he does mention on page xvi that some of those he interviewed "are still friendly with the Kennedys," and later on page 683 thanks the Secret Service and FBI for their assistance, while noting that "agents from both services who worked on the case" were "made available" to him for "individual questioning." He also mentions that he interviewed William Greer. So it seems possible he also talked to Hill.) (When discussing the immediate aftermath of the shooting, after Hill climbed on the back of the limousine) "Hill looked down. The President was on his left side. His head was in the roses. A large part of the right side was missing. The eyes, wide open, stared at the back of Mrs. Connally." (When discussing the end of the autopsy) "In the autopsy room, the sheet was removed from Kennedy's body, and Kellerman ordered Clint Hill to make his observations. The body was turned face down, then returned to its original position. Hill was stoical as he noted a bullet puncture at the base of the neck in the back and a small hole in the rear of the head, in addition to the large rent in the middle of the head."
(December, 1975 interview with Mike Wallace shown on CBS' program 60 Minutes) (When asked if there were multiple shooters) "There were only three shots. It was one gun. Three shots." (When asked if he was satisfied that Oswald acted alone) "Completely." (Television interview found on Youtube as Clint Hill Interview 1, apparently taken from the History Channel program The Secret Service, 1995) "I heard a sound from my right rear. I was on the left-hand front of the follow-up car. As I began to turn to my right toward that sound, my eyes crossed the back of the presidential car. And I saw the president grasp at his throat and lurch a bit to his left. And I realized something had happened. And I got off the car as quickly as I could and ran to the presidential car. By the time I got there two more shots had been fired and he had been hit in the head." (Television interview found on Youtube as Clint Hill interview 2, apparently taken from the Discovery Channel program Inside the Secret Service, 1995)) "We made a left-hand turn, and shortly after we made a left-hand turn there was an explosion to my right rear that sounded a bit like a gun shot or a firecracker. And I responded by looking to my right and as I did so my eyes went across the back of the presidential car. And I saw the president grab at his throat and lurch to the left. And I jumped from the car and ran to the presidential car. Before I got there he had been shot again in the head." (Interview conducted for the National Geographic Channel program Inside the Secret Service, first broadcast 10-24-04. Note that this is, in fact, a compilation of two different edits of the interview as found on Youtube. The sections found in the DVD are in italics.) "We traveled along this open area which was on my left and then made a left turn, but it wasn't a 90 degree left turn, it was like a 120 degree left turn. The open area was still on my left, and shortly after we got into that turn and started on that street, I heard a sound--which I wasn't sure what it was--whether it was a gunshot or a firecracker. I turned to see what was happening, and as I did I saw President Kennedy grab at his throat and lurch forward. I knew something was wrong.Before I could get to the presidential limousine, another shot had been fired and hit President Kennedy in the head. About that time I reached the back of the presidential limousine and tried to get on. I was trying to get my foot up on the back of the car. And I slipped. I had to run three or four more steps before I could get up. By that time Mrs. Kennedy had come out onto the trunk. It appeared to me she was searching for something, trying to retrieve something. But I got up on the back of the car and placed her back in the seat. The President at that time had slumped down into her lap. And I could see the back of his head. And there was a gaping hole above his right ear about the size of my palm. And there was white brain matter and red blood throughout the entire car. We then--the car jolted forward and we sped off to Parkland Hospital."
(Foreword written by Hill for The Kennedy Detail, 2010) "I would be very pleased if the results of the Warren Commission and its investigation would be accepted as the final word." (Interview on Fox News Network promoting the release of The Kennedy Detail, 11-12-10) "I heard the first shot, saw the President grab his throat, and lurch left. I knew something was wrong so I ran out to the car. I tried to get up on the trunk. The driver accelerated. I slipped. When I gained my footing, I got up on the trunk of the car. About that time, Mrs. Kennedy started up on the rear of the trunk. She was trying to retrieve something that came off the President's head. She didn't know I was there. I helped her get back in the back seat and the President fell to the left in her lap." (When asked what he believes happened) "What happened was a single shooter fired three shots from an elevated position to the rear of the motorcade. All three shots hit what they were aimed at. The first one hit President Kennedy. The second one hit Governor Connally. The third one hit President Kennedy in the head. That's the fact. The rest of it is just theory. Unlike fact." (Interview on Free Johnny Dare radio program on 98.9 The Rock in Kansas City, 11-12-10) (When asked what happened after he saw the president react to the first shot) "Well, I tried to get there as quick as I could. I came off the follow-up car, ran to the presidential vehicle. I could not hear the second shot 'cause I was running. By the time I got close the third shot had hit the president in the head. Some material came off the right rear. Mrs. Kennedy came out of her seat and onto the trunk to try to retrieve that material. I slipped, I tried to regain my position. I got up on the trunk. She did not know I was there. And I grabbed her, and put her back in the seat when the president fell to his left onto her lap." (When asked what he saw when he climbed up onto the trunk and looked at the president) "I saw that there was a portion of his skull removed from the upper rear above the right ear about the size of my palm, and brain material and blood was all over the back of the car including myself." (When asked if the president was still breathing when they got to the hospital) "Well, I couldn't tell if that was the case. His eyes were fixed, and a hole was in the upper right portion of his head. So it appeared that he was fatally wounded." (London Daily Mail Online article stupidly entitled "What have they done?': Jackie's words as JFK was shot are revealed by secret service agent who breaks silence after almost 50 years", 11-14-10) "‘I heard the first shot, saw the president grab his throat, lurch left and I knew something was wrong," he recalled, his voice halting. "When I got to the presidential vehicle, just as I approached it, a third shot rang out, hitting the president in the head, just above the right ear, and left a hole about the size of my palm. There were blood and brains spewed about over myself and the car. I helped Mrs Kennedy get in the back seat and the President fell into her lap. I was quite sure it was a fatal wound. The First Lady was in shock. She was doing the best she could, she was covered in blood." On the way to Parkland Hospital, where the president would be certified dead there was little conversation. But, according to Mr. Hill, Mrs Kennedy "said something about, 'Oh, Jack, what have they done? What have they done?'" (Oral History interview performed for the Sixth Floor Museum, 11-18-10) "About 50-60 feet down Elm Street, I was looking to my left, to a grassy area. There were very few people in that area. Some people there were taking pictures and that sort of thing. I heard an explosive noise to my right rear. I had been looking to my left, and so I scanned from my left to my right. When I did that my eyes had to go across the back of the President's car. And I saw the President grab at his throat and lurch to his left. So I knew something was wrong, something had happened. So I jumped from the car and ran toward the Presidential vehicle. Now I didn't hear any shot when I was running, but they tell me there was a shot at that time. But just before I reached the Presidential vehicle, I heard another shot and I felt the results, because the shot hit the President in the head, to the upper right rear of his head, above the right ear, and material came out of that wound, spewing over the back of the car, and over myself. I tried to get up on the back of the car. The driver started to accelerate more. I slipped. I ran a few more feet then got up on the car. About that time Mrs. Kennedy was coming out on the trunk. She looked like she was reaching for something that had come off the right rear of the car from the President's wound. I don't know what it was. She did not know I was there. I helped her as best I could to get back into the back seat of the car. When she got into the back seat and sat down, the President's body fell to its left onto her lap. When he fell like that, the upper right portion of his head was exposed, and I could see that a portion of his skull was missing, that it appeared someone had taken a scoop into the brain matter and removed portions of it, and scattered it around because there was brain and blood matter over the entire interior of the rear of the car, including Mrs. Kennedy. I noticed that his eyes appeared thick. I assumed that it was a fatal wound."
(11-20-10 interview of Hill and Gerald Blaine by Gary Mack at the Sixth Floor Museum, broadcast on CSPAN2, 12-12-10) (When Mack offers "You heard three shots.") "The three shots all came from the same location." (When Mack asks if the three shots were evenly spaced) "I didn't hear the second shot, so I only heard two shots. The first shot came from my right rear. And I was looking to the left of the grassy area on the left hand side of Elm Street when I heard the shot. My vision took me to the right toward that shot. In so doing my eyes went across the back of the President's car. I saw him grab at his throat and he started to lurch to his left. He didn't move too far but he was trying to go to his left. I knew something was wrong. So I jumped off the car and started running to the President's car, trying to get there in time to get on top and cover--what we try to do is cover and evacuate. I was trying to get there to cover up so nobody would impart further damage to the President or Mrs. Kennedy. About the time I got to the car, just before I got there, the third shot--that I heard, and I felt--because it hit the President in the head just above the right ear, right up in here (he places his hand just above his right ear, with some of his fingers to the back of the his ear), and blood and brain matter were spewing all over the place, including on me. About that time Mrs. Kennedy came out of her seat out onto the trunk of the car. She was trying to retrieve something that had come off the President's head and went to the right rear. I slipped at first while trying to get onto the car 'cause Bill Greer the driver accelerated the car. I gained my footing again, got up on the car, and helped her get back in the seat. When I did that the President fell over to his left onto her lap and I could see the upper right portion of his head (he again places his hand above his right ear, only this time he places it directly above the ear, about an inch forward of where he'd placed it only 30 seconds before) had a large hole about the size of my palm. It looked like somebody had taken a scoop and removed brain matter and just thrown it around the car--blood and brain matter and bone particles all around the car. His eyes were fixed. I was quite sure it was a fatal wound." (When Mack points out to him that the scenario Hill has been pushing in his recent interviews entails three shots and three hits) "That is correct." (When Mack points out that this puts Hill at odds with the conclusions of the Warren Commission) "I recognize that. But the two of us believe that the second shot hit Governor Connally. The other person who said that, Nellie Connally, was sitting right beside him when he was hit. So I think I'm in pretty good company in believing that the second shot hit the Governor and that the third shot was the fatal wound to the President."
Now, a quick aside. While a number of presumably intelligent men have looked at the assassination evidence--and in particular the recollection of some witnesses that the limo stopped on Elm Street--and come away convinced the Zapruder film has been faked, I strongly beg to differ.
Here's a gif of Hill's dash for the limo, in which frames from the Nix film are compared with frames from the Zapruder film, taken from the opposite direction. Not only do they confirm Mrs. Kennedy was not reaching for Hill, and that Hill didn't push Mrs. Kennnedy back in the car, they match up perfectly.
From this one can rule out that the film was faked in some laboratory. While one might still argue that Kennedy's appearance--or more specifically, the appearance of Kennedy's wounds--in the Zapruder film was altered in some way, the surprisingly widespread claim the entire film was faked to hide that the limo sat motionless in the middle of the street can be rejected. The Zapruder film matches up with the other films and photos, many of which remained in private hands for months and years after the assassination. Those seeking to discredit the film should look elsewhere.
(Article by Hill in the New York Times, 11-22-10) "We were traveling through Dallas en route to the Trade Mart, where the president was to give a lunchtime speech, when I heard an explosive noise from my right rear. As I turned toward the sound, I scanned the presidential limousine and saw the president grab at his throat and lurch to the left. I jumped off the running board and ran toward his car. I was so focused on getting to the president and Mrs. Kennedy to provide them cover that I didn’t hear the second shot. I was just feet away when I heard and felt the effects of a third shot. It hit the president in the upper right rear of his head, and blood was everywhere. Once in the back seat, I threw myself on top of the president and first lady so that if another shot came, it would hit me instead." (Interview with Bob Barnard on WTTG, Washington D.C.'s channel Fox 5, and subsequently posted on the website promoting The Kennedy Detail, 11-22-10) "I was scanning the left side of the street in Dealey Plaza, and I heard an explosive noise from my right rear. And so I scanned from my left to my right going toward that noise. When I did so I scanned across the back of the car. What I saw was the president grab at his throat, and lurch to his left. And I knew something was wrong. So I jumped from the car and ran, ran toward the presidential vehicle. Now there was another shot, the second shot, I did not hear that because I was running. Just before I got to the car there was a third shot, and it hit the president in the head, causing an explosion to the upper right of his head, and brain material and blood spattered all about, including on myself. Mrs. Kennedy at that had come out on the trunk. She was apparently trying to retrieve something that had come off the president's head, and had gone to the right rear. She didn't know I was there. And so I grabbed her as best I could and put her into the back seat. And as I did that the president fell to his left onto her lap, with his right side of his head exposed. I could see his eyes, they was fixed, with a hole in his head about the size of my palm above his right ear." (11-22-10 CNN.com report by Dugard McConnell and Brian Todd) "'After the first shot hit the president,' former agent Clint Hill says, "I saw him grab at his throat and lean to his left. So I jumped and ran." Hill is the man seen running toward the limousine in the famous film of the shooting, captured by a bystander named Abraham Zapruder. Hill jumped onto the back of the presidential car, in a desperate attempt to protect the president. "Just before I got to the car, the third shot hit him in the head." Hill says."It was too late." (Unidentified book store appearance captured in Youtube video US Secret Service Agent Clint Hill Recalls Dallas, uploaded 11-24-10) "About 50 feet or 60 feet down Elm Street I heard an explosive noise from my right rear. Now I had been looking to my left over the grassy area. So when I looked back toward that explosive noise my vision took me across the back of the President's car. When I did that I saw the President grab at his throat and go left. And I knew something was wrong. So I jumped from the car and ran to the presidential limousine. I didn't hear another shot. They tell me there was a shot that occurred while I was running. By the time I had just about got to the car--I was a few feet from it--there was another shot. It hit the President in the head above the right ear. It removed a portion of his skull about the size of my palm. And there was blood and brain matter spewing about the entire area, including on myself." (Interview on C-Span program Q & A, 11-28-10) (Hill's comments while watching the Zapruder film) "When the third shot hit--which is right about now--I was just about to get onto the car. And I slipped. Then I regained my step. Then I got up on the car. Mrs. Kennedy at that time was coming out onto the trunk. She was coming out on the trunk to try to retrieve something that came off the President's head that went off to the right rear. She did not know I was there. When I got up on the trunk, I pushed her as best I could back into the rear seat. When I did that, the President fell down into her lap with the right side of his head up, exposed. I could see that his eyes were fixed and that there was a large hole above the right ear--just to the rear--above the right ear, about the size of my palm. That part of the skull was missing and there was brain matter--it looked like somebody'd taken an ice cream scoop and gone in there and removed a whole portion of the brain and thrown it around the back of the car. The back of the car and she were covered in blood and brain."
(BBC 4 audio interview published online, 12-1-10) "Well, we were turning left onto Elm Street in Dallas. And as we progressed down Elm Street I heard a sudden explosive noise from the right rear of the motorcade. And so my vision changed from looking left to looking toward that sound, which took my vision across the back of the presidential vehicle. And when I did that I saw the president grab at his throat and lurch to his left. And I knew something was wrong. And so I jumped from the follow-up car which was immediately behind the presidential vehicle and ran toward the presidential vehicle, attempting to get there to throw my body up on top of the car to form a shield between the president and Mrs. Kennedy and whoever was shooting at them." (When asked how many shots he heard) "I only heard two because while I was running apparently the second shot was fired. The third shot which I heard and felt because I was near the presidential vehicle when that happened hit the president in the head--upper right rear of the right ear--and it spewed blood matter, brain matter, and bone fragments out over the car and myself. And then I was getting up on the back of the car and Mrs. Kennedy was trying to come off out on the trunk of the car to retrieve something that had come off the president's head to the right rear. She did not know I was there. I pushed her back into the seat. And then the president's body fell to its left onto her lap." (When asked if at that time he knew Kennedy was dead) "Well, his right side of his face was up. I could see his eyes were fixed, that there was a hole in his skull above his right ear to the rear about the size of my palm. And I was quite sure that the shot had been fatal." (When asked if he felt the shots had come from the same place) "Yes I believe they all came from an elevated position to our right rear of the motorcade--it turned out to be the Texas School Book Depository--that they were all fired by the same rifle, and that they were all fired by one individual." (Interview in Discovery Channel program The Kennedy Detail, first broadcast 12-2-10) "The driver had to slow the car considerably in order to make the turn. Instead of going the 10-12 miles an hour we had been going he had to cut the speed at least in half. About that time, as I was scanning the left area from Elm Street, there was a large explosive noise to my right rear. I thought it was a fire cracker. My eyes passed over the back of the presidential car. And I saw the President grab at his throat and lurch slightly to his left. And I knew something was wrong. (Moments later in the program) Just before I got to the presidential vehicle I heard another large sound from the right rear. And then I heard the sound of an impact like a bullet hitting something hollow. Now Mrs. Kennedy was out on top of the trunk of the car trying to retrieve something she'd seen come off the President's head. I was trying to get up on the car. The driver all of a sudden accelerated. I grabbed the handle, pulled myself up, grabbed Mrs. Kennedy, put her in the back seat. The President slumped over into her lap. I looked down and realized how severe the President had been hit. Above the right ear, there was an area about the size of the palm of my hand that was gone. The skull was gone. It looked like an ice cream scoop had gone in and removed all the brain in that area. There was brain matter, skull, and blood throughout the entire car...(Later in the interview) On the way to Parkland, I had seen Governor Connally's chest covered in blood. That was the first that I realized that he'd also been shot."
(12-3-10 appearance at Warwick's Bookstore, New York City, posted on Youtube) "We had just started to straighten out the vehicle as as we started down Elm Street toward the Stemmons Freeway. At that point, I was scanning to the left, which was a grassy area. I heard an explosive noise to the right rear of the motorcade to my right ear. My eyes took me to the right rear toward that sound. In so doing, I had to scan across the presidential vehicle. When I did that I saw the President grab at his throat and move to his left, and I knew something was wrong. So I jumped from the follow-up car and I ran toward the presidential vehicle. My intent was to get on top of the presidential vehicle and place myself between the President and Mrs. Kennedy and whoever was shooting at them. I ran, and apparently, in that time I ran there was a second shot. I did not hear it. As I approached the vehicle there was a third shot. It hit the President in the head, upper right rear of the right ear, caused a gaping hole in his head, which caused brain matter, blood, and bone fragments to spew forth out over the car, over myself. At that point Mrs. Kennedy came up out of the back seat onto the trunk of the car. She was trying to retrieve something that had gone off to the right rear. She did not know I was there. At that point I grabbed Mrs. Kennedy, put her in the back seat. The President fell over into her lap, to his left. His right side of his head was exposed. I could see his eyes were fixed. There was a hole in the upper right rear portion of his head about the size of my palm. Most of the gray matter in that area had been removed, and was scattered throughout the entire car, including on Mrs. Kennedy. I turned and gave the follow-up car crew the thumbs-down, indicating that we were in a very dire situation. The driver accelerated; he got up to the lead car which was driven by Chief Curry, the Dallas Chief of Police . . ." (When later asked, by someone claiming to have been given permission to inspect the autopsy photos in 1979, about his description of a wound on the right rear of the head) "Above the right ear. (At this point he touches his head above his right ear and slides his hand back behind his ear) It's hard for me to describe so that people like you can understand it." (He places his hand back on his head and turns his back to the audience. The palm of his hand is above his ear and his fingers stretch to the crown of his head.) "Right in here. That portion of the skull was gone. About the size of this..." (He shows the audience his palm.) "My palm. It was an entry wound from the rear (He points to the EOP area of his skull, where the autopsy doctors claimed the bullet entered.) and it caused the entire area of that skull to lift up." (4-16-11 article by Dan Rozek on the Chicago Sun-Times website, reporting on a 4-16 appearance by Hill at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville Illinois) "Within seconds of shots being fired at President John F. Kennedy, Secret Service Agent Clint Hill climbed onto the president’s still-moving, convertible limousine and saw Kennedy slumped over with a 'gaping' wound in his head. 'I assumed the wound was fatal. I turned, I gave a thumb’s down to the follow-up car,' Hill said Saturday, as he recounted the traumatic Nov. 22, 1963 assassination in Dallas of the nation’s 35th president." (Later) "Hill described how he jumped off his car and ran toward the presidential limousine, reaching the vehicle just as a bullet struck Kennedy in the head. As soon as he saw Kennedy’s injuries, he realized the president likely was dead. 'I could see that his eyes were fixed, there was a gaping hole in the upper right rear of his head about the size of my palm,' said Hill, struggling to hold his composure."
(4-19-11 article in the Chicago Daily Herald on the 4-16 appearance by Hill at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville Illinois) "Hill, one of the agents closest to Kennedy when shots were fired, told the assassination story from his point of view. On what was a warm November day in Dallas, windows were open at the high-rises surrounding the streets where the president’s vehicles proceeded to a campaign stop, Hill said. He was scanning a building to his left when he heard an “explosive noise” from his right, which turned out to be the first gunshot fired from a sixth-story window by Lee Harvey Oswald. After the first shot: 'What I saw was the president grabbing at his throat and moving to the left,' Hill said, speaking quickly, as though his words were memorized and well-practiced. 'I knew he was in trouble and something was wrong.' After the second shot: Hill said he tried to 'cover and evacuate,' a Secret Service technique that would have allowed his body to block those of the president and Jackie Kennedy. After the third shot: Hill saw a 'gaping hole' in Kennedy’s head as blood, brains and bone sprayed out from the gunshot wound, covering his clothing as well as Jackie Kennedy’s. 'I assumed the wound was fatal,' Hill said." (10-9-11 article on Hill on the Fargo--Moorehead Inforum) "During the motorcade, Hill was positioned behind Jackie Kennedy on the follow-up car and was scanning people taking photos from a grassy area off to the left. Then he heard an explosive noise over his right shoulder, and his eyes scanned past the presidential vehicle. 'I saw the president grab at his throat and kind of move to his left. I knew something had happened,' Hill said. 'I jumped from the follow-up car and ran toward the presidential vehicle,' he said. 'My attempt was to get on the back of the presidential car and place my body above the president and Mrs. Kennedy so that I would shield them from anything that was a possibility of happening. There was a second shot, apparently, but I didn't hear it because I was running. Then the third shot happened just as I was approaching the presidential vehicle. I slipped, had to regain my steps, got up on the car. The president had been hit in the upper right rear of his head with that third shot. There were blood and brain matter and bone fragments throughout the entire area, including myself. He slumped to his left. Mrs. Kennedy came up from her seat onto the trunk of the car trying to grab some of the material that came off his head. I grabbed her and put her back into her seat. When I did that, the president's body fell into her lap. The right side of his face was up, and I could see his eyes were fixed. There was a hole in the upper right rear of his head. It appeared to me that he was dead.'"
(Mrs. Kennedy and Me, co-written with Lisa McCubbin, published March, 2012) (On p. 290) (On his reaction to the first shot) "We turned left onto Elm Street. It was an unusually sharp turn, and because 100X was no ordinary vehicle, Greer had to slow down considerably. Halfback had similar problems and Kinney maneuvered slowly through the turn. The vehicles straightened out and began to return to our normal parade pace of about ten miles per hour. I was scanning to the left at the grassy area when I heard a sudden explosive noise, over my right shoulder, from the back of the motorcade. I turned my head toward the noise, and as my eyes moved across the president's car, I saw President Kennedy grab at his throat and lurch to his left. I jumped off the running board and ran toward 100X. I wasn't thinking, only reacting. Somebody had fired a shot at the President, and I had to get there. I had to get on the car and get myself between the shooter and the president and Mrs. Kennedy. I was running as fast as I could. Nothing else mattered. I have been told there was a second shot which occurred at this time. I did not hear it. My feet were hitting the pavement; the motorcycle engines were loud in my ears. I'm almost there. Mrs. Kennedy is leaning toward the president. I'm almost there. I was almost there. And then I heard the shot. The third shot. The impact was like the sound of something hard hitting something hollow--like the sound of a melon shattering onto cement. In the same instant blood, brain matter and bone fragments exploded from the back of the president's head. The president's blood, parts of his skull, bits of his brain were splattered all over me--on my face, my clothes, in my hair. My legs were still moving. I assumed more shots were coming. I reached for the handhold and grabbed it. Just as I grabbed it the car lurched forward. Bill Greer had stepped on the gas and the car reacted with a jolt. I slipped. I was gripping with all my strength, my feet now back on the pavement. My legs kept moving, as I held on, trying to keep up with the rapidly accelerating car. Somehow--I honestly do not know how--I lunged and pulled my body onto the car, and my foot found the step. In that same instant, Mrs. Kennedy rose up out of her seat and started climbing onto the trunk. What is she doing? What is she doing? The car was accelerating; we were really speeding up. Good God, she's going to go flying off the back of the car! Her eyes were filled with terror. She didn't even know I was there. She was reaching for something. She was reaching for a piece of the president's head. I thrust myself onto the trunk, grabbed her arm, and pushed her back into the seat. When I did this the president's body fell to the left onto her lap. As I peered into the backseat of the car, I saw the president's head, in her lap. His eyes were fixed, and I could see inside the back of his head. I could see inside the back of the president's head. ''My God! They have shot his head off!" Mrs. Kennedy screamed. Blood was everywhere. The floor was covered in blood and brain tissue and skull fragments. ''Get us to a hospital! Get us to a hospital." I screamed at Bill Greer." (Later, on p. 305-306, when discussing the autopsy) ''I took a deep breath, as Kellerman opened the door. Lying on a table, covered with a white sheet, was the body of President Kennedy, only his face was exposed and it looked like he was sleeping. Bill Greer was there and Dr. Burkley and General Godfrey McHugh, President Kennedy's Air Force aide. There were additional people I did not recognize. A man in a white coat stood beside the table. I'm sure they told me his name but it didn't register. The man gently lowered the sheet just enough to expose the president's neck, and he began describing the wounds to me. A wound in the front neck area where a tracheotomy had been performed at Parkland Hospital in an effort to revive the president. He said it covered an exit wound. Then, rolling the president gently over to one side, he pointed out a wound in the upper back, at the neckline, quite small. This, he said, was the entry wound that corresponded to the exit wound at the throat. Moving the body back and slightly to the left he pointed out the wound in the upper right rear of the head. I swallowed hard, listening closely, as the doctor explained what had happened. It appeared that the impact of the bullet hitting the president's head was so severe, it caused an explosive reaction within the makeup of the skull and brain, so portions of the brain erupted outward, and a portion of the skull with skin and hair attached became like a flap. The image of what I saw when I was wedged up above the backseat came flashing back into my mind. The head wound was exposed to me and I could see into his brain, part of which had exploded outward. It looked like somebody had flipped open the back of his head, stuck in an ice-cream scoop and removed a portion of the brain, then scattered it all over Mrs. Kennedy, the car, and myself. It was a horrific sight. And I couldn't get it out of my mind. "Yes Doctor," I said ''That is exactly what happened. I know. I saw it. I was five feet away from the president when the impact occurred.'' If only I had run faster, reacted a little quicker. The explanation by the doctor and my observation of the body was concluded. I thanked the doctor and returned to the seventeenth floor."
Above: Clint Hill on the back of the limo as captured in yet another photo by James Altgens. This photo (Altgens 7) was taken just after the head shot. Note that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is also on the back of the limo. Initial stories differed as to whether she climbed onto the back of the limo to help Hill or he climbed onto the back of the limo to help her. Neither story was true, of course. He started his run for the limo before she climbed out on the back, and she started back to her seat before he even reached her. Sadly, the reality is more gruesome. It would later become clear, through the statements of Hill and emergency room doctor Pepper Jenkins, that Mrs. Kennedy crawled out on the back of the limo to retrieve a chunk of her husband's brain, which, in her shock, she thought he might still need. (She later handed this chunk to Jenkins.)
(Interview with Savannah Guthrie broadcast on NBC's Today Show, 4-5-12) "That's the one thing I can't get out of my mind. The picture of him lying on her lap, with his head exposed to me...looking into the back of his head, into his brain, his eyes fixed, blood and brain and bone fragments all over the car, over Mrs. Kennedy, and myself." (On Jackie's climb onto the back of the limo) "There was some material from the President's head that had gone off to the right rear. And she had come up on the back of the car trying to retrieve that material." (4-5-12 interview with Piers Morgan on CNN) (When asked when he realized the President was gonna die) "After I got up on the car, Mrs. Kennedy came up on the trunk to retrieve some material that had gone off to the right rear from the President's wound in his head. I put her back in the seat. When I did that, his body fell into her lap, face up. And I could see that his eyes was fixed. There was a wound in the upper right rear of his head. I could see into his brain. Part of his brain was missing. There was brain matter, and bone fragments, and blood spattered all over the rear of the car, including on myself and Mrs. Kennedy. And I was sure at that time that the shot had been a fatal shot." (On his sense of guilt) "I've always felt a sense of guilt. I was the only agent present who had an opportunity to do anything because of the way everything happened. When the shots came in from the right rear, because I was on the left running board, my vision took me across the back of the President's car. I saw the President grab at his throat and lunge to his left. I knew something was wrong. None of the other agents could do that because when they looked toward the shot they looked away from the President's car. So I was really the only one who had a chance." (When asked if he felt it was Oswald acting alone) "Yes, I have no question but what it was Lee Harvey Oswald. There were three shots. They all came from the sixth floor of the school book depository. And that was it." (4-6-12 interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News Network) (On what Mrs. Kennedy was doing when he got to the limousine) "She was trying to retrieve some material that came off the president's head, from the wound which he had suffered. The wound was so severe that portions of the bone matter, blood and brain matter were scattered all over the car. And she was trying to retrieve it." (4-6-12 interview on the Opie and Anthony radio show, on satellite radio station Sirius/XM) (On his disputing those claiming the first shot missed) "The first bullet hit him in the middle of the back way up there at the neck line and came out through the throat. The second shot did not hit him. Mrs. Connally was sitting next to her husband. She said the second shot was the shot that hit her husband. That is where the magic bullet theory comes in--which I don't believe in either." (On the first shot) "I wasn't sure exactly what it was. I heard the explosive noise. But when I saw him react, then I realized that something had happened. And I jumped and ran. And while I was running there was a second shot, apparently. I didn't hear it." (On the direction of fire) "From the right rear." (On his climbing onto the limo) "When the President was hit in the head with the third bullet, the explosion was so severe in the head that bone fragments and blood and brain matter erupted from the wound. Some of it came off and went to the right rear, across the trunk of the car. She saw that and she was trying to reach some of that material. And then I grabbed her and I put her in the back seat. And then his body fell into her--his head--in her lap." (On whether he knew it was a fatal wound) "I thought it was as soon as I saw him lying in her lap, because his eyes were fixed. I could actually see into his head from the wound. And I could see a lot of the brain matter was gone." (On the sound of the impact) "A bullet hitting something hard but hollow, something like a melon--similar. And it caused the wound to open up and then it caused a flap. The skin from the exterior of the skull didn't actually come off. Part of it was intact, and so it just kinda made a flap forward." (On conspiracy theorists) "They're very annoying, but I've gotten to the point where I just ignore them, because most of it is so foolish and stupid that it's just not believable to anybody." (He then proceeds to mock the "Greer did it" and "Hickey did it" theories) (On why people believe in a conspiracy) "They can't believe that one person did this." (On his strongest memory) "The picture of the President lying in Mrs. Kennedy's lap, the right side of his face up, the eyes fixed, with a hole in the right rear of his head. And my knowing that he was dead." (On his reaction after first seeing the Zapruder film) "I was really surprised at what I did see, because I had no idea what it looked like." (The year he first saw it) "Sometime in 1964." (4-13-12 article on the 10news.com website, the website of KGTV, presumably reporting on a televised interview) "'I saw the president grab his throat and I knew something was wrong,' he said when describing the shooting. Hill threw his body over the back of the presidential car to form a human shield. 'Mrs. Kennedy had come out of the back of the car and she was trying to retrieve part of the president's head. I put her back in the seat. You could see his eyes were still. There was a hole in his head and his brain was missing,' said Hill."
(5-4-12 interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC program Hardball) (On what happened after he heard the first shot) "Well, I raced to the car, but just before I got there the third shot was fired. I didn't hear the second shot because I was running. The third shot was fired just as I was approaching the car. It hit the President in the head--upper right rear. And it was a tremendous wound, causing blood and brain matter to come out of the wound over myself and the car. About that time Mrs. Kennedy come up on the trunk of the car. She was trying to retrieve material which came off the President's head--off the right rear. And I got up on the car and pushed her back into the seat. And when I did that the President's body fell over into her lap." (On whether the car was still moving at this time) "The car was continuously moving, and began to accelerate just as I got there." (On whether or not there was a conspiracy) "One shooter, three shots, all from the same rifle." (5-9-12 interview on MyFOXNY) (On his memories) "What I see in my head is what happened that day, and the president lying in Mrs. Kennedy's lap in the back seat of the car with his head blown open and blood and brains all over the back of the car and over myself and everybody else." (On the limousine slow-down) "At the time the shots were fired we weren't going at the normal speed which would have been 10-12 miles per hour. And he gradually started to speed up a little bit. But then he heard the first shot, and he thought one of the tires had blown. And if you watch the Zapruder film real close you'll see that the brake lights come on. He tapped the brake to see if he could get any response from the tires because he thought he'd blown a tire. So he did slow down slightly at that time, but he never stopped, and he kept on going. And then he started to accelerate just before I got there." (On the question of conspiracy) "Three shots, all fired from the same location by the same person, Lee Harvey Oswald." (5-22-12 interview with Dan Rea on WBZ radio, CBS Boston) "When we got to the point on Elm Street below the school book depository, I was scanning over to my left, which is a grassy area. There weren't a lot of people there, but there were some. And at that point I heard an explosive noise from over my right shoulder, to the right rear of the motorcade. And when that happened, I looked toward that noise, and in so doing my eyes passed across the back of the Presidential car. And so I saw what happened. I saw the President grab at his throat, move to his left. I knew he was in trouble. So I jumped and ran." (On the question of conspiracy) "There was only one shooter. There were only three shots. They all came from the same place, the sixth floor of the school book depository. And the shooter was Lee Harvey Oswald." (Chapter by Hill in November 22, 1963 by Dean Owen, published 2013) "On November 22, when I heard the gunshots in Dealey Plaza, there was no hesitation at all. It's a reaction. And you immediately react. You do what we are taught to do and that's provide cover and hope we can evacuate before any damage is done. In this case the damage was already done by the time I got to them." (Interview on BBC Radio program on the 50th anniversary of the assassination, first broadcast 9-1-13) "All of a sudden I hear this explosive noise over my right shoulder from the rear. It seemed to be from an elevated position. I then started to look toward that noise but my vision only got as far as the back of the presidential vehicle. And I saw what happened in the car. I saw the President grab at his throat, and he violently moved to his left. And I knew something was wrong so I jumped from my position and I ran toward the Presidential vehicle with the intent of getting up on top of the rear of it to form a shield. But when the third shot was fired it hit the President in the right rear of the head, and there was blood and brain matter and bone fragments that came out of the wound. That material went all throughout the car. It covered Mrs. Kennedy, the back of the car, and on myself as well." (After climbing onto the car and putting Mrs. Kennedy back into the back seat) "The President fell to his left right into her lap. His eyes appeared fixed and there was a severe wound in the upper right rear of his head. I assumed that it was a fatal wound." (On his feelings about the assassination) "You can't keep a conspiracy secret for 50 days much less 50 years. There were three shots fired on November 22, 1963. All three shots came from the same location, and all fired by the same person, Lee Harvey Oswald." (Interview on Australia's 60 Minutes, posted on youtube 9-15-13) "I saw the president move violently to his left and I knew something was wrong. I saw him grab at his throat." (Later) "I saw the President grab at his throat, and move to his left violently, and I knew something was wrong. And so I jumped from the follow-up car, ran toward the Presidential vehicle with the idea of getting on top of the rear of the car to form a protective barrier behind President and Mrs Kennedy to prevent any further damage from being done. As I got close to the car, the third shot was fired and it hit President Kennedy in the head. It entered the rear of the President's head and it exited the upper right quadrant of the skull (Around 6:30 in the video, he points to his forehead and temple, inches away from where he normally points) and blood and brain matter and bone fragments came out of the wound and came over the car and Mrs. Kennedy and over onto myself...The President's body fell to his left. His head was on her lap, and the right side of this face was up. And I could see his eyes were fixed. And I could see it was a fatal wound." (10-21-13 Decatur IL Herald and Review article reporting on Hill's 10-19-13 statements during an appearance in Altamont IL) "Hill was riding on the running board of “Halfback,” the Secret Service follow-up car, on the driver’s side behind Jacqueline Kennedy, when he heard a “loud, explosive noise” over his right shoulder. He began scanning toward his right, when something caught his attention. “I saw the president grab his throat and he lurched toward his left and I knew something had happened, something was wrong,” Hill told the hushed crowd, as a photo of the scene was projected on a large screen behind him. “So I jumped off the running board and started to run toward the presidential vehicle, attempting to get on top of the rear of the car to form a shield, a barrier behind the president and Mrs. Kennedy to prevent anything more from happening.” ..."Hill was running as fast as he could toward the limousine and reached it just in time, before it sped off. As he was about to reach the vehicle, he heard the shot heard around the world. “I not only heard it but I felt it because it hit the president in the head,” said Hill, who describes in his second book how “a vile eruption of blood, brain matter and bone fragments” showered over Jacqueline Kennedy, across the trunk and onto him. “Just as I was trying to get onto the back of the car, she was climbing out onto the trunk,” Hill recalled. “She was trying to grab some of the material that had come out of the president’s head. She didn’t even know I was there. I pushed her into the back seat. As she fell back into the back seat, the president’s body fell into her lap.” While people throughout the world would pray and hold their collective breath during the half-hour between the shooting and the announcement of the president’s death, Hill knew immediately. "I could see into his skull,” Hill recalled. “Most of the brain material in that portion of his head was gone. I assumed it was a fatal wound. I turned and gave a thumbs-down to the follow-up car, so the agents in the car would know exactly what had happened.” Hill also knew that the president had been in a terrible position, because he was unable to duck after the first, nonfatal bullet struck him, because he was wearing a back brace."
Above: a photo taken by Justin Newman showing Clint Hill on the back of JFK's limo as it sped to Parkland Hospital.
(11-17-13 Minneapolis Star Tribune article reporting on Hill's 11-5-13 statements at an appearance in Bismarck College) (On the sound of the head shot) "It was the sound of something hard hitting something hollow." (On his arrival at the limo after the head shot) ""She (Jackie) didn't even know I was there... I got a hold of her and put her in the back seat. The president fell onto Mrs. Kennedy. I could see that his eyes were fixed." (Interview in National Geographic program JFK: the Final Hours, first broadcast 11-8-13) "When I got up on the car, Mrs. Kennedy then came up on the trunk. I got ahold of her and put her in the back seat. When I did that he fell into her lap. The right side of his face was up. I could see his eyes were fixed. I could see into his skull--there was a hole in his skull. (Note: as he says this he places his hand above and slightly behind his right ear.) And I could see that part of the brain was gone. It wasn't even there." (Fox News Reporting: 50 Years of Questions, 11-9-13) "I heard this explosive noise over my right shoulder. I immediately started to scan toward that noise. I saw the President grab at his throat, and move violently to his left, so I jumped and ran toward the presidential car. As I approached the presidential vehicle, I was almost there, then I heard another shot, causing an eruption of blood and brain matter and bone fragments, which came over the car and over me, and then over Mrs Kennedy. I then managed to get up on the back of the car, but the driver hit the gas, and the car lurched forward, and I slipped. I had to take two or three extra steps in order to get back up on the car. By this time, Mrs. Kennedy had come up on the trunk of the car. She was trying to retrieve some material that had come off the President's head. I grabbed her and put her in the back seat. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get there any quicker than I did. I could see the President's face. His eyes were fixed. There was a hole in the upper right rear of the skull. I screamed at the driver to get us to a hospital." (Nova: Cold Case JFK, 11-13-13) "All of a sudden I heard an explosive noise over my right shoulder. And I saw the President grab at his throat, and I knew something was wrong. I jumped off the running board of the follow-up car, and ran toward the presidential vehicle. As I was running they tell me there was another shot. I didn't hear it. Just as I was approaching the President's car, there was a third shot. It hit the President in the head, and then it exploded out the right side of his head. Blood, brain matter, and bone fragments sprayed out across the people in the car, across the trunk, myself, and Mrs. Kennedy. I pulled myself up onto the rear of the car, and Mrs. Kennedy came out on the trunk. She didn't even know I was there. She wasn't reaching for me, she was reaching for something that came off the President's head. I grabbed her and put her in the back seat, and I screamed to the driver to get us to a hospital." (Interview on Piers Morgan Live on CNN, 11-13-13) (When asked if he thinks any conspiracy theories have merit) "None of them are really factual. They're just stories that are made up." (NBC program JFK 50: Eyewitness to History, 11-16-13) "When I got onto the back of the car and the President was laying in Mrs. Kennedy's lap with his right face up, I could see his eyes were fixed and that there was a gaping hole in the right rear portion of his head above his right ear. A portion of the brain had been removed. It looked like somebody had gone in with a spoon or an ice cream scoop and had thrown brain material all over the back of the car. There was blood and brain all over Mrs. Kennedy and all over the back of the car."
(Smithsonian Channel program The Day Kennedy Died, 11-17-13) (unedited take found on the website for the program) "I heard a noise coming over my right rear shoulder. It was an explosive noise. I saw the President grab at his throat, lurch to his left, and I knew something was wrong. I jumped from the follow-up car and started to run toward the Presidential vehicle...I had not quite gotten to the car, and the third shot rang out. It hit the President in the head causing blood and brain matter and bone fragments to come out of that wound over the trunk of the car and onto myself." (Five Days in November, published 11-19-13) "I scan the grassy area on the left side of Elm Street. Just a handful of people. Suddenly I hear an explosive noise over my right shoulder, from the rear. Instinctively, I turn toward the noise, and my eyes cross the back of the presidential vehicle. I see President Kennedy throw his hands up to his throat and move violently to his left. Oh God, someone is shooting at the President. I jump from the follow-up car and run toward the presidential car. My actions are automatic, reactive. The only thought going through my head is that I must get on the back of the president's car and form a protective shield behind President and Mrs. Kennedy. Nothing else matters. The motorcycle engines are loud in my ears, and the car continues to move forward, away from me. I'm running as fast as I can, my eyes focused on the two people in the backseat of the car. I'm gaining ground, almost there, my arms reaching for the handhold, when another shot rings out. The bullet hits its mark, piercing the back of President Kennedy's head, just above and behind his right ear. In the same instant, a vile eruption of blood, brain matter, and bone fragments spews out, showering over Mrs. Kennedy, across the trunk, and onto me. I grab the handhold, get my right foot on the step, and suddenly the car lurches forward as Bill Greer steps on the gas. My foot slips off the step, back to the pavement, but somehow I manage to hang on to the handhold. Gripping with all my might as the rapidly accelerating car pulls me, my legs keep moving. If I lose my grip and fall to the ground, the presidential car will speed away, and the follow-up driver will have no choice but to run over me. Somehow—I honestly don't know how—I lunge forward, my foot finds the step, and I pull my body onto the car. In the same moment, Mrs. Kennedy, covered with her husband's blood, her eyes filled with terror, is crawling out of her seat and onto the trunk. She doesn't see me; she doesn't even know I'm there. She's reaching for something on the trunk. Oh God. She's reaching for some material that's come out of the president's head.” (On what he saw after helping Mrs. Kennedy into the back seat) "When I do this, the president's body falls to the left, with his head in her lap. His eyes are fixed, and I can see inside the back of his head. It looks like someone has scooped out a portion of his brain and strewn fragments of skull, bits of brain tissue and blood all over the car. (On what he was shown at the autopsy) "The doctor points to a wound in the throat and explains that this is where the emergency tracheotomy was done at Parkland Hospital, which covered up the area where a bullet had exited. He rolls the president slightly onto his left side and points to a small wound just below the neckline, slightly to the right of the spinal column in the upper back. This, he says, is where the bullet entered, and then came out the front of the neck. The bullet that caused these wounds hit nothing but soft tissue. Those wounds, I knew without a doubt, came from the first shot. It corroborates what I saw---the president suddenly grabbing his throat immediately after the first explosive noise. The doctor points to a wound on the right rear of the head. This, he says, was the fatal wound. He lifts up a piece of the scalp, with skin and hair still attached, which reveals a hole in the skull, and an area in which a good portion of the brain matter is gone...The fatal shot, he explains, entered the rear of the head and exited on the right, creating this flap of hair and skin. The impact of the bullet hitting the skull was so severe, it caused an eruption within that area of the brain, as the flap dislodged and was flung forward on the head." (Appearance at the Henry Ford Museum, 11-19-13, as presented in an 11-20-13 article in USA Today) "Hill, assigned to her detail for years, said he "heard an explosive noise over my right shoulder, from the rear. ... I realized something was wrong. The president grabbed at his throat and moved to his left. ... I jumped." But it was the third shot, he said, that did the most damage. "I heard it. I felt it ... because it hit the president in the head." (A video-taped excerpt from Hill's appearance at the Henry Ford Museum, found on youtube under the title "JFK secret service agent Clint Hill Still Haunted by Kennedy's Death") "All of a sudden I heard this implosive noise from over my right shoulder. It came from the rear and over my right shoulder. I started to turn towards the noise but I only got as far as the President's car. I saw what happened in the car. I saw that the President had grabbed at his throat and he moved to his left. And I knew something was wrong...They told me that there was another shot while I was running. I didn't hear it...Just as i reached it...there was a third shot...It hit the back of his head here (he points to a spot low on the back of the right side of his head, about the level of the EOP) and exploded out the upper right rear quadrant (he now spreads his hand out over the top right part of his head above and in front of his right ear). And it was blood and bone fragments and brains--all that material out on the trunk, on me, and on Mrs. Kennedy...His right side of his face was up, and I could see his eyes was fixed. And I could see through the hole in the skull--there was almost no brain matter left in that area." (11-20-13 article on the Voice of America website) “I heard an explosive noise to my right rear, the rear of the motorcade. I saw the president grab at his throat and move to his left and I knew something was wrong," Hill remembered, "so I jumped and ran toward the presidential car with the idea of getting up on top. By the time I just about got to the car, the third shot had been fired, hit the President in the head, caused a massive wound which caused blood, brains and other material to be exploded out on to the car, onto me, onto Mrs. Kennedy. She was trying to retrieve some material that had come off from the president’s head and went to the right rear. I grabbed her and did the best I could to get her back in the seat," added Hill. "When I did that the president fell to his left into her lap. I got up on top and lay on top behind both of them, and I turned and gave a thumbs down to the follow up car."
(Appearance at the Newseum, 11-20-13, as shown on CNN, 11-22-13) (Describing the rain of blood) "It got on the back of the car, on myself, and Mrs. Kennedy." (On what happened after he got up on the car and put Mrs. Kennedy back into her seat) "When I did that, the President's body fell farther to its left, with his head in her lap. And the right side of his face was up. I could see his eyes were fixed. And I could see through that hole in his skull, that most of his brain matter was gone in that area. So I assumed it was a fatal wound." (Appearance in the the Discovery Channel program JFK: The Lost Tapes, first broadcast 11-21-13) (After the first shot was fired) "I saw the President grab at his throat." (Later) "My job was to get up there and shield him. I jumped and ran. There was a second shot they tell me as I was running. I did not hear it." (Later) "I got up on the back of the car. About that time, Mrs. Kennedy came out on the trunk. I grabbed her and put her back in the seat. I was yelling at the driver 'Get us to the hospital! Get us to the hospital!'" (Later) "The President was hit in the right rear of his head (as he says this he reaches up with his right hand to a point just above his ear) above the ear." (Appearance on the History Channel program The JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide, broadcast 11-22-13) "I saw the President grab at his throat and he moved to his left. And I knew he was in trouble. Something was wrong. I jumped and I started to run, trying to get to the President. And there was a third shot...It was so explosive that it caused an eruption of blood and bone fragments all over the presidential vehicle, all over the trunk." (Interview on CNN, 11-23-13) (When asked if he thinks there's anything to any of the conspiracy theories) "They're just theories. There's no facts involved in any of them." (10-17-14 article by Susan Cheever in Vanity Fair) "When the first shot rang out, Hill recalls now, 'I described it as an explosive device. It resembled a firecracker, but a loud one, and it came over my right shoulder from the rear. I wasn’t absolutely sure what it was. I turned toward the noise.'"
(Five Presidents, published 2016) "As the car straightened out and began to return to the normal parade pace of about ten miles per hour, I was now standing on the left running board of the follow-up car, in the forward position...Suddenly, there was a loud explosive noise, like a firecracker, that came from behind. Instinctively, I turned toward the noise, which seemed to have come from an elevated position, from the right rear, and as my eyes moved across the president's car, I saw President Kennedy grab at his throat and lurch to his left. I realized the explosive noise had been a gunshot. I jumped off the running board, hit the pavement, and ran...While I was running there was a second shot. I didn't hear it--perhaps because I was so focused on catching up to the car, or because the sounds of the motorcycles on either side of me drowned out the sound--but I am convinced, from all the evidence I've seen, read, and studied, that this second shot was the one that hit Governor Connally. Mrs. Kennedy had turned toward the President at the sound of the first shot and was leaning toward him as he fell slightly to his left, the back brace strapped around his midsection keeping him upright. I thrust myself forward, reaching for the handhold, my eyes now focused on President and Mrs. Kennedy. Her head was nearly touching his. I was nearly there, running as fast as I could. And then came a third shot. I heard it and felt it. The impact was like the sound of something hard hitting something hollow--like the sound of a melon shattering onto cement. In the same instant, an eruption of blood, brain matter, and bone fragments exploded from the president's head, showering over Mrs. Kennedy, the car, and me...Blood was everywhere. The floor was covered in blood and brain tissue and skull fragments. The President's head was in Mrs. Kennedy's lap, his eyes fixed, and a gaping hole in the back of this skull...The time between the moment I heard the first shot and the impact of the fatal head shot was less than six seconds...I was satisfied with the commission's conclusion that Oswald acted alone, and to this day, I believe that to be the case--there has never been any factual evidence to prove otherwise. The one conclusion with which I disagree is the 'Magic Bullet Theory'--the notion that the first shot which passed through President Kennedy's neck then entered Governor Connally's body. Governor and Mrs. Connally and I were all of the same opinion--having been up-close witnesses--that the governor's wounds were caused by the second shot, the one that did not hit President Kennedy."
(ABC7 Bay Area TV documentary JFK Unsolved: the Real Conspiracies, first broadcast 2021) "I was looking at the crowd on the left, and ahead of us was an overpass, and I could see nothing wrong. And then I heard this explosive noise over my right shoulder. So I started to turn toward it to see if I could identify--It didn't really sound like a rifle shot. It sounded more like a firecracker...But when I started to turn to my right to get to the point where I could see what it was, my vision crossed the back of the President's car. And then all of a sudden he grabbed at his throat and he started to fall to his left... So that's when I jumped from the car and started running. I got almost to the President's car. Then I heard another shot, and I felt that one, and saw the reaction. It hit the President in the head, and it was blood matter, brain matter, bone fragments, all came out of that wound...)
Analysis: Hill’s description of the second shot he heard’s strange sound is suggestive that he heard the third shot, but processed it as an echo of the second shot. When one reflects that Hill was running past Bobby Hargis towards Jacqueline Kennedy at the time of the head shot, and that they also heard but two clear shots, it should make us suspicious that all three heard the third shot, but processed it as an echo of the second shot. If one makes that jump, then all three of these witnesses can be added into the first shot hit 190 (or afterward) category. There is certainly nothing in their statements to make us believe that the first shot missed. Hill, in particular, states that he heard the first shot while he was looking to his left and that he saw the President react to this shot after he looked to his right. Between the Betzner photo at Z-186 and the Willis photo at Z-202, Hill seems to have begun to look to his right. By Zapruder frame 223, he is clearly looking at the President. By the Altgens photo at Z-255, he has turned to the President. That he recalls hearing only one shot by this time is a strong argument against the LPM scenario. It is also quite interesting that Hill wants the public to accept the conclusions of the Warren Commission, while he himself rejects the conclusion central to its conclusions: the single bullet theory. This shows that he, as Governor Connally, suffered from a cognitive disconnect, and could never bring himself to understand that without the single-bullet theory, the single-assassin conclusion promoted by the Warren Commission was at odds with the evidence. Only heard two shots. First shot hit 190.
Kenneth O’Donnell, a Kennedy assistant, rode in the back-up car in the middle seat behind the driver. (5-4-64, 6-4-64, 8-6-64, and 11-23-64 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (Manchester's narration for the aftermath of the shooting) "In the jumps seats, Ken O'Donnell and Dave Powers have heard the sickening impact of the fatal bullet, and Dave has seen it. O'Donnell crosses himself. Powers whispers 'Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...'" (5-4-64, 6-4-64, 8-6-64, and 11-23-64 interviews with William Manchester, regarding the possibility Kennedy was killed by Texas oilmen, as represented in The Death of Lancer, the original draft of The Death of a President, as quoted in an article by Edward Jay Epstein in the July 1967 issue of Commentary Magazine) "They did it. I always knew they'd do it. You couldn't expect anything else from them. They finally made it." (5-18-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H440-457) “We turned—I remember the overpass. And then the shots occurred--which, at that time, I did not know were shots. My first impression was it was a firecracker. And then either somebody said “He has been hit,” or I noticed the slump—he had been waving out the right side of the car and I noticed him slump over toward Mrs. Kennedy, and I realized then that they had been shots. But as fast as that realization occurred, I saw the third shot hit.” (When asked how close the back-up car was to the limousine) “My guess would be 5 to 8 feet…I would presume they were just about turning to step up the speed a little bit, because there would be no crowds from there. (When asked if the Secret Service car had completed its turn onto Elm Street) “My recollection is they had, just about. I don’t recollect a separation of this nature. It was a slight sloping turn, as I remember, and I thought we were right together.” (When asked what Kennedy was doing with his hands prior to the time of the shooting) “He was waving. We had just left the mass of crowds. But as we turned on the grass plot, there were four or five people there, and I believe he waved to them.” (When asked how many shots he heard) “Three” (When asked the time span of the shots) “I would say 5-6 seconds.” (When asked if the shots came in a pattern) “Yes. The first 2 came almost simultaneously, came one right after the other. There was a slight hesitation, then the third one.” (Asked his reaction) “My reaction is in part a reconstruction and is that they came from the right rear. That would be my best judgment.” (When asked how others reacted) “The agents all turned to the rear…I would think watching the President when the shot—the first shots hit—that it would be automatic it would have to have come from the rear. (When asked again about the agents’ reactions) “The reaction I note would be right rear. And again, looking at the manner of the President’s movement I would think you would have to feel the thrust of the shot was from the right rear…He was leaning out waving. He may have just been withdrawing his hand. And the shot hit him, and threw him to the left. He slumped on Mrs. Kennedy. (When asked which shot this was) “It was not the third shot. Whether it was the first or second, I would not know…If I had to pick one of the two, I think it might have been the second shot.” (A 1968 conversation with Congressman Tip O'Neill, as recounted in O’Neill’s autobiography Man of the House, 1987) “I was surprised to hear O’Donnell say that he was sure he had heard two shots that came from behind the fence. 'That's not what you told the Warren Commission,' I said. 'You're right,' he replied. “I told the FBI what I had heard, but they said it couldn't have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn't want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family…The family--everybody wanted this thing behind them.” (Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, co-written with Dave Powers, published 1972) "I had just finished speaking when we heard shots, two close together and then a third one. There must have been an interval of at least five seconds before the third and last shot because, after the second shot, Dave said to me, 'Kenny, I think the President's been shot.' I made a quick sign of the cross and said 'What makes you think that?' 'Look at him!' Dave said. 'He was over on the right, with his arm stretched out. Now he's slumped over toward Jackie, holding his throat.' While we both stared at the President, the third shot took the side of his head off. We saw pieces of bone and brain tissue and bits of his reddish hair flying through the air. The impact lifted him and shook him limply, as if he was a rag doll, and then he dropped out of sight, sprawled across the back seat of the car. I said to Dave, 'He's dead.' A Secret Service agent beside me, probably Tim McIntyre who was standing behind Clint Hill on the left running board, pulled his gun and I reached for it, pushing it down, thinking that if he fired, he might hit somebody in the crowd. ..We did not realize then that Governor Connally had also been hit, apparently by the same bullet that had passed through President Kennedy's neck, one of the two fired in the opening burst of shots...I don't remember any of us in our car saying a word during the fast drive to Parkland Hospital. I was thinking (and Dave told me later that he was thinking the same thing) of the interval between the first shot that hit the President and the later one that killed him--a lapse of time long enough for Dave and me to talk about whether or not there had been a shooting. As Dave says, if there was an interval of at least five seconds between the second and third shots, as it seemed, that was long enough for a man to run fifty yards. If the Secret Service men in the front seat had reacted quicker to the first two shots at the President's car, if the driver had stepped on the gas before instead of after the fatal shot was fired, would President Kennedy be alive today?" (6-15-75 article in the Chicago Tribune. This article reported that a source within the CIA had told the Church Committee that Kennedy aides Kenneth O'Donnell and David Powers had been pressured by the FBI into leaving their suspicions that shots came from the front out of their statements. It also quoted O'Donnell's response to this allegation.) "The story is an absolute lie," O'Donnell declared in a phone interview. "I'm not accusing the reporter, but whoever gave that story is lying. It's an absolute, outright lie." (Later in the article) "I spent four hours before the commission and my testimony is quite clear," O'Donnell said in the phone interview. "I told them exactly what I saw. I was in charge of the whole operation so I know what happened. I arranged the whole trip..."I testified under oath and I stand by it." O'Donnell recalled he told the Warren Commission he heard two shots, the first of which he initially thought was a firecracker. Both came from behind, he said. And Powers, O'Donnell said, recalled hearing three shots, all from the same direction. He denied that either he or Powers ever had suspicions that the shots came from anywhere but the depository. Further, O'Donnell asserted he was never pressured or asked to change or omit anything from his testimony, either by the FBI or CIA. "I met with them every day (while working for President Johnson on the investigation)" O'Donnell said. "Not one of them ever even raised the question.They worked for me. I didn't work for them." (Interview with O'Donnell's son, Kenneth O'Donnell, Jr. by David Talbot, as reported in Brothers, published 2007) (On the source of the shots heard by his father) "He said there was fire from two different directions." (Quoting his father on his father's impressions of the Warren Commission) "I'll tell you this right now, they didn't want to know"...(It was) "the most pointless investigation I've ever seen."
Analysis: from his jumping to the third shot in his testimony, it seems likely that O’Donnell decided that the “firecracker” he heard was in fact two separate shots. His subsequent statements that the first two shots rang out "simultaneously" and "one after another," and that there was a space of five seconds before the head shot, confirm this suspicion. That the quickness of these first two shots troubled O'Donnell, furthermore, is suggested by his subsequent recollection that he'd only testified to hearing two shots.His testimony that he thought Kennedy may have been hit by the second shot--a shot fired only a split second after the first shot, mind you--is therefore of little help to the LPM scenario. It is, in fact, an argument against it. More concretely, O'Donnell's recollection that Kennedy was waving to a small group of people at the time he was hit, and that this happened near a "grass plot," suggests the first shot was heard around frame 190. Since Powers later confirmed O'Neill's recollection about O'Donnell's impression of the source of the shots, moreover, we should suspect O'Donnell's denial of this to the Chicago Tribune in 1975 was, in fact, a lie. His misrepresentation of Powers' impression of the shots--that they all came from behind, when Powers from the earliest claimed he'd had an impression the final shot came from the front--suggests, unfortunately, that he was not above such behavior. First shot hit 190. First two shots may have been bunched.
Above: Kennedy assistant Dave Powers at Love Field, climbing into the middle seat of the Queen Mary, Kennedy's Secret Service back-up car. The man beside him is Kennedy assistant Kenny O'Donnell. Needless to say, the day didn't turn out how they planned.
David Powers, another Kennedy assistant, rode in the middle seat to the right of O’Donnell. (Notes on a 4-8-64 interview with William Manchester, as reported in the TV documentary "The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After," 2009) "I am looking at the Presidential car. His hand was waving and now he put his hands slowly to his throat and slumps towards Jackie. And I say to Kenny 'I think the President's been hit.' Kenny and I not only saw the next one we heard it. We just saw that handsome head get blown off. We heard the shot and we heard the impact of the shot. It was the most sickening thing--like a grapefruit being thrown against a brick wall...At Parkland, I ran up to the Presidential car. His eyes were open. I opened the door and said 'Oh, my God, Mr. President!' I almost expected him to say 'I'm alright' because he never complained. A fragment of the bullet had come out of his forehead. I still get an ache in my head like a toothache where he was hit. I suppose it's just nerves." (4-8-64, 8-10-64, 10-21-64, 3-17-65, and 5-24-65 interviews with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On his response to the first shot) "Powers, in Halfback's right-hand jump seat, shouted at O'Donnell, 'I think the President's been hit!'" (Manchester's narration for the aftermath of the shooting) "In the jumps seats, Ken O'Donnell and Dave Powers have heard the sickening impact of the fatal bullet, and Dave has seen it. O'Donnell crosses himself. Powers whispers 'Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...'" (On whether or not Rufus Youngblood actually climbed into the back seat of LBJ's car, or simply turned around, as purported by Senator Ralph Yarborough) "Dave Powers, who glanced back, confirms the Senator." (5-18-64 affidavit, 7H472-474): “the first shot went off and it sounded to me as if it were a firecracker. I noticed then that the President moved quite far to his left after the shot from the extreme right hand side where he had been sitting. There was a second shot and Governor Connally disappeared from sight and then there was a third shot which took off the top of the President’s head and had the sickening sound of a grapefruit splattering against a wall…My first impression was that the shots came from the right and overhead, but I also had a fleeting impression that the noise appeared to come from the front in the area of the triple overpass.” (A 1968 conversation between Ken O'Donnell and Tip O’Neill recounted in O'Neill's memoir Man of the House, 1987) “I was surprised to hear O’Donnell say that he was sure he had heard two shots that came from behind the fence. 'That's not what you told the Warren Commission,' I said. 'You're right,' he replied. 'I told the FBI what I had heard, but they said it couldn't have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn't want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family…The family--everybody wanted this thing behind them.' Dave Powers was with us at dinner that night, and his recollection of the shots was the same as O’Donnell’s. Kenny O'Donnell is no longer alive, but during the writing of this book I checked with Dave Powers. As they say in the news business, he stands by his story.” (Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, co-written by Kenneth O'Donnell and Dave Powers, published 1972) "The police found a bullet mark on the street pavement, indicating that one of the three shots might have missed the President's car, but Dave, who was watching the President and Connally carefully during the shooting, still thinks that the first bullet hit Kennedy in the neck, the second struck Connally and the third one ripped open the President's head."
(11-19-78 UPI article found in the Reading Eagle) "'I was in the Secret Service car,' said Powers, 'Me and Kenny O'Donnell. When I saw the first bullet hit him as he was waving, I turned to Kenny and said 'My God, they've shot our president.' Kenny blessed himself. Then I saw the second bullet hit the back of his head...' and the voice trails off into silence. Then, very softly, Powers adds, 'Every day I think about it. Every day I get a pain in the back of my head where I saw the president get hit.'" (A 1980 conversation with Gary Mack, as recounted in a series of emails from Mack to John McAdams, posted online by John McAdams, 4-9-03) "Powers told me he and O'Donnell both thought one of the shots might have come from the front. When they told the FBI, the agents didn't take them seriously. Dave was quite insistent on that." (In a follow-up email posted by McAdams at the same time, Mack clarified) "Powers may have told me one or two of the shots might have come from the front--my note to you was not taken from any notes I took at the time. This was a long conversation we had by phone around 1980. Powers told me they didn't know that shots came from the front, just that they thought one or two might have. He never said or hinted they were intimidated to change their story or to keep quiet. But they were disappointed that no one they told the story to seemed very interested in what they thought." (11-20-83 article by Thomas Farragher on Powers found in the New London, Connecticut Day) "The time the first shot was fired, I was 7 yards away from the President. I'm looking at the President. The Secret Service are trained to look elsewhere. And he had been waving to the people on the right side. His hand was way over. And I saw him bring his hand in and then fall toward Jackie. Now a bullet travels faster than the speed of sound. So I saw this happening and then I heard that noise at the same time that I would have thought was a firecracker. But I didn't see the President react that way and I turned to Ken O'Donell (another JFK aide). He's in the jump seat beside me. And I said 'Ken, our President has been shot.' And I remember Kenny made the sign of the cross. I believe that the second shot hit John Connally, and then while we're riding, we're praying. 'You see it's happening behind the agent driving the car--Bill Greer. Great guy. Loved the President. And we're doing about 12 mph but it's happening behind him and he's not aware of it. It seemed to me it was about five seconds from the shot that wounded the President and the one that killed him.'"
(5-30-87 AP article featuring an interview with Powers found in The Evening News) "On November 22, 1963, Powers was in the car directly behind Kennedy's when he heard two shots ring out in succession and saw the President slump down. Then, a few moments later, a third shot ripped open the President's head." (8-31-87 AP article by Christopher Callahan on Tip O'Neill's just published claims about O'Donnell and Powers, found in the New London, Connecticut paper The Day) "Powers, in a telephone interview last week, said O'Neill's version is incorrect. Powers, curator of the JFK Library in Boston, said he did not want to address O'Neill's points directly. 'It's too painful to talk about,' said Powers." (Interview in 1988 TV documentary JFK: The Day The Nation Cried) "Coming down from that short flight from Fort Worth to Dallas, I'm talking to the President and Jackie in the back of the plane and I said 'Mr. President, you wave to the Texans on the right, and Jackie'll wave to the ones on the left.' And this is exactly what's happening when the first shot was fired... I had heard the noise. I'm looking at the President at the same time, and he had pulled his hand up toward his throat and he fell over toward Jackie. There's a second shot, and now Governor Connally is out of sight. The first two sort of came close together, but now we're riding and praying. And now we see the shot that hit the President in the head." (Interview with Charles Kuralt broadcast on CBS, November 1988) (When asked if President Kennedy would still be alive if Bill Greer put the limo's pedal to the floor after the first two shots) "Yes, the President would be alive today, and he would be 71 years old, and he'd be a director here" (meaning the JFK Library). (6-5-91 interview with Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann, as recounted in Ultimate Sacrifice, 2005) "We were shocked when Dave Powers, head of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston and a close aide to JFK, vividly described seeing the shots from the 'grassy knoll.' Powers said he and fellow JFK aide Kenneth O'Donnell clearly saw the shots, since they were in the limo right behind JFK. Powers said they felt they were 'riding into an ambush'-- explaining for the first time why the driver of JFK's limo slowed after the first shot. Powers also described how he was pressured to change his story for the Warren Commission." (11-7-91 article in the L.A. Times) "I heard the first shot, positively above and behind me," says Powers, who was riding behind Kennedy's car. 'I'm looking at the President like I always did, and I saw him bring his hand in and kind of fall toward Jackie. I said 'Our President's been shot!' and now I see that terrible thing that hit the President on the head, and you never talk about it,' he says, his voice tightening. 'And now the car begins to accelerate.'" (Interview broadcast in CBS program Who Killed JFK: the Final Chapter?, 11-19-93) "I looked at my watch and it was exactly 12:30 Texas time... And then I heard the first shot... I'm looking right at the President and he had his right hand out waving to the people, and now he had pulled it in and it's up around his neck, and he had fallen toward Jackie. And I said "I think our President's been shot."
Analysis: as the leftward shift of the President noted by Powers as a response to the first shot occurred just after frame 190, it is clear he felt the first shot occurred at this time and that it struck Kennedy. His appraisal of the second shot is far less clear. While he indicated this shot came shortly after the first, he also claimed the gap between the first and third shots was but five seconds and that he'd talked to O'Donnell just after the first shot. O'Donnell, as we've seen, heard no shots between Powers' comments on the first "firecracker" sound, and the head shot. This suggests that Powers was talking to O'Donnell when he thinks the second shot was fired, and that he didn't actually hear this shot. His statements to Manchester certainly suggest as much, for there he described but two bursts of gunfire. Powers' associating the second shot with Connally's disappearing from sight, which did not occur till just before the head shot, moreover, suggests that he wasn't sure when he heard a third shot, and only tried to make sense of it later. Since Powers associated the second shot with an occurrence just before the head shot, moreover, he may also have heard the last two shots bunched together, and then moved the second shot closer to the first so he could correlate his recollections with O'Donnell's. Although O'Donnell clearly lied about his own impression of the shots, that Powers' original statement suggests there may have been a shot from the front, suggests that neither of them were actually pressured to change their impression. It seems likely then that O'Donnell changed his story on his own, for reasons all his own. That Powers told Waldron he'd been pressured into changing his story as well, however--when his story doesn't appear to have actually been changed--outside his addition of a shot that hit Connally--is indeed a bit curious. Perhaps he'd said they were uninterested in what he had to say, and Waldron had misinterpreted or misrepresented his words. Or perhaps Powers was simply exaggerating. First shot hit 190-224. Possibly heard but two shots. Last two shots possibly bunched together.
John Ready rode on the outside of the right side of the back-up. (11-22-63 report, 18H750) “I heard what sounded like firecrackers…The shooting occurred as we were approaching the Thornton Freeway…There appeared to be no spectators on the right side of the roadway…After the initial shot I attempted to locate the area from where they had come from but was not able to. It appeared that the shots came from my right-rear side.” (Undated report, presumably collected with the 11-29-63 reports of the other agents in the detail, 18H 749) “I heard what sounded like firecrackers going off…I immediately turned to my right rear trying to determine the source but was unable to determine the exact location.” (12-8-63 signed statement in the Secret Service report on the behavior of the presidential detail on the night before the shooting, 18H690) "I departed the Texas Hotel, Fort Worth, Texas, at about 12:20 A.M. Friday, November 22, 1963, walking 10-15 minutes to the Fort Worth Press Club...While there I had two cans of beer and left this club between the time of 1:15 A.M. and 1:30 A.M. I arrived at The Cellars, a Fort Worth coffee house, about 1:45 A.M. Here I had two, a third which I consumed partially, fruit drinks. I remained here until about 3:15 A.M., then departed, and walked to the Texas Hotel." (Note: Ready reported for duty at 7:20 A.M., 18H679) (5-24-65 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the first shot) "Lawson, Kellerman, Greer, Ready, and Hill, all thought that a firecracker had been exploded." (3-1-78 interview with HSCA investigator, file #180-10071-10165 ) “He thought the first shot was a firecracker thrown from behind them. He said that the second and third shots were closer in time than the first and second shots. He heard someone say either “He’s hit,” or “He’s shot,” but doesn’t remember when it was said, relative to the second or third shot.” Analysis: while Ready’s statement is incredibly vague, the Zapruder film shows his head begin to turn to its right after frame 190. By the time of the Altgens photo, Z-255, he is totally turned around. His grouping of the last two shots completes the picture. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Above: McIntire on McIntyre. In yet another ironic twist, the best photo of Secret Service Agent Tim McIntyre on 11-22-63 was taken by a bystander named Mel McIntyre. Here's McIntyre, on the left running board of the SS back-up car, as the back-up car turns onto the Stemmons Freeway just west of Dealey Plaza. Agents John Ready and Paul Landis man the right running board. The Texas School Book Depository is in the background.
William McIntyre (aka Tim McIntyre) rode on the outside of the driver’s side of the limousine, behind Clint Hill. (11-22-63 report, 18H748) “As we approached the underpass leading to the Thornton Freeway, there was little if any crowd present. I heard three shots fired and observing the President, noticed that he had been struck by at least one bullet, I thought in the head. I recall a rolling lawn to the right of the area where the President was shot, and seem to also recall an expanse of lawn to the left of the Presidential vehicle. I attempted to locate the origin of the shots, but was unable to do so.” (11-29-63 report, 18H746-747) “The Presidential vehicle was approximately 200 feet from the underpass when the first shot was fired, followed in quick succession by two more. I would estimate that all three shots were fired within five seconds. After the second shot, I looked at the President and witnessed his being struck in the head by the third and last shot. By that time, Mr. Roberts had used the radio in our car to direct the vehicles to a hospital.” (1-31-78 interview with HSCA investigator, file #180-10082-10454) “As they were approaching the overpass, McIntyre heard the first report, which he described as “very loud.” He said that he had no doubt that it was a shot. There was a pause and then two more shots in succession. McIntyre stated that at the first two shots, he was scanning the area to try to determine where they were coming from. He stated that the President was directly in his vision when the third shot was fired and he saw the President struck in the head. He remembers saying to Jack Ready 'What the hell was that?' He feels certain that Clint Hill left the running board and ran to the limousine before the third shot was fired.” (11-23-03 article by Jerry Jonas in the Bucks County Courier-Times, purportedly relating what McIntyre told Jonas in December 1963) "By the time the motorcade turned onto Elm Street, the security detail was beginning to feel some relief. Now, in just a few seconds, the motorcade would be on a freeway and picking up speed. Then Tim heard the first rifle report. But was it actually gunfire or just a firecracker? The ominous clue was the unusual activity in the president's car. A second or two later came another loud crack and Tim remembered instinctively turning to his right, the direction of the now-threatening sounds. Quickly glancing back toward the president, he heard still another loud report and was horrified to witness what he described as the back of the president's head exploding." (11-17-13 article by Jerry Jonas in the Burlington County Times, in which he further relates what McIntyre purportedly told him in December 1963) "By the time the motorcade turned onto Elm Street, the security detail was beginning to feel some relief. In just a few seconds, the motorcade would be on a freeway and picking up speed. Then McIntyre heard the first rifle report. But was it actually gunfire or just a firecracker? The ominous clue was the unusual activity in the president's car. Kennedy had stopped waving and his hand was at his throat. A second or two later came another loud crack and McIntyre remembered instinctively turning in the direction of the now-threatening sounds. Quickly glancing back toward the president, he heard still another loud report and was horrified to witness what he described as the back of Kennedy's head exploding. He estimated all three shots were fired in no more than five seconds, but was certain none of the agents knew the origin of the shots and no agent fired a shot. Instinctively, Clint Hill, the agent who was standing in front of him, leaped from the running board and sprinted toward the presidential vehicle pushing a panicked Jackie Kennedy back into the car. With all the agents in the follow-up car drawing their weapons, McIntyre, attempting to hang on with one hand and freeing his pistol with the other, remembered nearly falling from his now-accelerating vehicle." (Article reporting McIntyre's death published in the Green Valley News, 8-27-19) "McIntyre had been with the Secret Service about nine months when Kennedy was killed Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. McIntyre, then 28, was assigned to the follow-up car behind the presidential limousine. According to his statement to the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination, McIntyre was standing on the left running board behind agent Clint Hill when he heard three shots fired within five seconds. He saw the second shot hit Kennedy in the neck and the third strike his head. Hill ran to the limo and shoved Jacqueline Kennedy back inside after she climbed onto the trunk." Analysis: the limousine was far more than 200 feet from the underpass at the time of the first shot under any scenario, but McIntyre’s statement is particularly damaging to the LPM theory, which holds the President was barely off of Houston Street. His description of the rolling lawn is certainly more in line with the first shot occurring at frame 190 or afterwards than frame 160. The articles by his supposed friend are also of interest in that they suggest McIntyre thought the first shot hit. Still, they are second-hand reports, 40 and 50 years removed from the supposed conversation, and of little value. The last snippet is also of little value, but shows how even small-town newspapers routinely lie about the witnesses. (1. McIntyre never made a statement to the Warren Commission. 2. The statement he did make said nothing about Kennedy getting hit in the neck by the second shot. That was just some crap someone saw on television.) First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Paul Landis stood along the right side of the back-up car behind John Ready. (11-27-63 report, 18H758-759) “At this point the President’s car and follow-up car had just completed its turn and both were straightening out. At this moment, I heard what sounded like the report of a high powered rifle behind me. My first glance was at the President, as my eyes were almost straight ahead at that time. I did not realize that the President was hit at that point. I saw him moving and thought he was turning in the direction of the sound. I immediately returned my gaze to the building which I had observed before, at a quick glance saw nothing and dropped my eyes to the crowd, scanning it quickly from right to left....I think I recall Special Agent Jack Ready saying, “What was it? A firecracker?” I remarked “I don’t know. I don’t see any smoke.” All during this time I was returning my gaze to the President’s car. …I looked at the front right tire of the President’s car and saw it was alright…I glanced back towards the President, he still appeared upright in his seat, leaning slightly towards Mrs. Kennedy. It was at this moment that I heard a second report and saw the President’s head split open and pieces of flesh and blood flying through the air.” (11-30-63 report, 18H751-757) “As the President's car continued around the corner, I continued to survey the crowd along the righthand side of the road and noticed that it was fairly scattered, with hardly enough people to form a single line. I continued to look ahead to an overpass over the route we were traveling. At approximately this point, I would say, the President's car and the Follow-up car had just 'completed their turns and both were straightening out. At this moment I heard what sounded like the report of a high-powered rifle from behind me, over my right shoulder. When I heard the sound there was no question in my mind what it was. My first glance was at the President, as I was practically looking in his direction anyway. I saw him moving in a manner which I thought was to look in the direction of the sound. I did not realize that President Kennedy had been shot at this point. I immediately returned my gaze, over my right shoulder, toward the modernistic building I had observed before. With a quick glance I saw nothing and immediately started scanning the crowd at the intersection from my right to my left. I observed nothing unusual and began to think that the sound had been that of a fire cracker but I hadn't seen any smoke. In fact, I recall Special Agent Jack Ready saying, "Oh, what was it? A fire cracker?" I remarked, "I don't know; I don't see any smoke." So far the lapsed period of time could not have been over two or three seconds. All during this time I continued to scan the crowd, returning my gaze towards the President's car. It must have been another second or two before the next shot was fired because, as I recall having seen nothing out of the ordinary, I then thought that maybe one of the cars in the motorcade had had a blowout that had echoed off the buildings. I looked at the right front tire of the President’s car and saw it was all right. I then glanced to see the right rear tire, but could not because the Follow-up car was too close. I also thought of trying to run and jump on the President's car but did not think I could make it because of the speed at which we were traveling. I decided I had better stay where I was so that I would at least be near the First Lady, to whom I am assigned. I think that it was at this point that I thought, "Faster, Faster, Faster," thinking that we could not get out of the area soon enough. However, I don't have any idea as to how fast we were then moving. I had drawn my gun, but I am not sure exactly when I did this. I did leave my suit unbuttoned all during the motorcade movement, thinking at the time that I could get to my gun faster this way, if I had to. I glanced towards the President and he still appeared to be fairly upright in his seat, leaning slightly toward Mrs. Kennedy with his head tilted lightly back. I think Mrs. Kennedy had her right arm around the President's shoulders at this time. I also remember Special Agent Clinton Hill attempting to climb onto the back of the President's car. It was at this moment that I heard a second report and it appeared that the President's head split open with a muffled exploding sound. I can best describe the sound as I heard it, as the sound you would get by shooting a high powered bullet into a five gallon can of water or shooting into a melon. I saw pieces of flesh and blood flying through the air and the President slumped out of sight towards Mrs. Kennedy. The time lapse between the first and second report must have been about four or five seconds. My immediate thought was that the President could not possibly be alive after being hit like he was. I still was not certain from which direction the second shot came, but my reaction at this time was that the shot came from somewhere towards the front, right-hand side of the road. I did not notice anyone on the overpass, and I scanned the area to the right of and below the overpass where the terrain sloped towards the road on which we were traveling.”
(Signed statement in the 5-5-64 Secret Service report on the behavior of the presidential detail on the night before the shooting, 18H687) "I arrived at the Press Club at approximately 1:15 A.M., where I had one scotch and soda. I departed the Press Club at approximately 1:45 A.M. I arrived at The Cellar at approximately 2:00 A.M., where I had two drinks which I believe were call 'Salty Dick.' I departed The Cellar at approximately 5:00 A.M." (Note: Landis reported for duty at 8:05 A.M., 18H679) (11-20-83 AP article found in the Elyria Ohio Chronicle-Telegram) "I used to hunt a lot and you know a gunshot sounds pretty familiar. You know what that's like. I knew it came from over my right side, or right shoulder" Landis, who was assigned to protect Jacqueline Kennedy, did not see the first shot hit the President...He recalls seeing fellow agent Clint Hill, also on the First Lady detail, jump from the left front bumper and run forward..." I turned and just as I turned to look at the President's car, that's when I heard the second shot, and saw him get hit in the head," Landis said. 'I saw the piece of flesh or head fly off. It was right all about that point that the cars were accelerating and a lot going on. People were diving all over the place.'...Landis said that when he got to the Kennedy limousine outside the hospital the president had already been taken inside, but he helped Mrs. Kennedy out. He said there was a bullet fragment on top of the back seat that he picked up and gave to somebody.
(The Kennedy Detail, 2010) "When Agent Paul Landis helped Mrs. Kennedy out of the car, he saw a bullet fragment in the back where the top would be secured. He picked it up and put it on the seat, thinking that if the car were moved, it might be blown off. And then he saw a bloody Zippo lighter with the Presidential seal on it. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. He picked up her hat and purse and brought them inside." (Interview in Discovery Channel program The Kennedy Detail, first broadcast 12-2-10) "I head a sound over my right shoulder which I immediately recognized as a gunshot. I'd been a hunter. I'd fired high-powered rifles. And I knew what the sound was like. (For the next sentence, Landis is off camera) I heard a second report. (He is then back on camera) I remember seeing Clint jump off the running board going for the President's limo. I just kept thinking 'C'mon, Clint, go, go, go. (Moments later) "I saw the president's head explode just like a melon, that would've, just a lot of blood." (5-5-11 article on Landis by Leon Bib, found on the WEWS website) "I heard the gunshot," said Landis. "It came over my right shoulder." Landis was within a few feet of the presidential limousine, the top of which had been removed at the president's request. Movies of that day show Landis and several other secret service agents trailing the limousine as each man watched for any unusual movement in the crowds of people who had lined Dallas streets to get a view of the nation's chief executive. Landis said when he heard the first shot, his eyes turned toward where he thought the shot had originated. Still searching the crowd, there came another shot in quick succession. "And when my eyes came back to the president again, it was a third shot and that was the one that hit him in the head," Landis remembered." (5-31-12 public appearance at the Cleveland Polka Association monthly meeting, video found on youtube) "I heard the first shot. I turned to look behind me. I was on the right rear running board of the follow-up car. I heard the shot. I spinned--I turned and didn't see anything behind me. I scanned the crowd and I was about at the President's car. And I thought--gee, maybe--I was pretty sure it was a gun shot because I was a hunter and had done a lot of shooting. Just as I looked at the President's car, I heard another shot and that evidently was a miss. And then there was a third shot. I was looking right at the President when he got hit in the head, and there was absolutely no hope or doubt." (When asked if all three shots came from the rear) "Yes." (When asked if he ever had any doubts) "I turned around and was scanning the crowd and looked--I did see someone running up the grassy knoll but people were diving all over the place...That was a reaction of what where one of the other shots came from. But once we talked. We basically agreed. The same." (When asked if Kennedy's head's moving back and to the left had led him to believe the shots came from the front) "That was something that went through my mind." (November 2012 interview with authors Richard Lertzman and William Birnes, as recounted in Dr. Feelgood, 2013) "Special Agent Landis described how the presidential motorcade wound its way toward Dealey Plaza and passed by the Texas Book Depository as the crowds gathered to get a glimpse of the president. That's when the first shot, sounding like a crack in the distance over Landis' shoulder, reverberated as if in an echo chamber. Landis knew immediately what it was, but did not see the president react. Maybe it had been a firecracker. At least that's what other members of the Secret Service detail seemed to think. Then there was a second shot. Landis said, 'My reaction at this time was that the shot came from somewhere towards the front, but I did not see anyone on the overpass, and looked along the right-hand side of the road.' Then he saw a man running across 'a grassy section towards some concrete steps and what appeared to be a low stone wall.' And this is how the theory of the 'grassy knoll' came into being." (10-17-14 article by Susan Cheever in Vanity Fair) "'I knew right away it was a gunshot,' Landis, now 79, tells Vanity Fair, from his home near Cleveland, Ohio. 'I was a hunter. I’ve done a lot of shooting. There was no doubt in my mind, in fact.' (Ready, according to Landis, guessed that it was a firecracker.) But in the blur of the action, Landis, although noticing the president 'leaning to the left,' says he did not connect the sound of the gun and J.F.K.’s movements." (11-22-16 article on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website about Landis' 11-19-16 appearance at the Cleveland Grays Armory) "From 25 feet away, Landis said he watched as President Kennedy was shot in the head by the third bullet from Lee Harvey Oswald's mail-order rifle, a Carcano Model 91/38 carbine...Landis does not water his whiskey when describing the gore he witnessed during and after the slaying. He serves it straight up, right down to the blood and human remains that he observed in the limousine, along with bullet fragments. And he is similarly straight from the shoulder when discussing the Warren Commission. He sounds almost proud of not having read the Warren Report, and said they got it right about no conspiracy and that Oswald was the lone actor, but blew it with the single-bullet theory. That theory holds that a single shot struck the President and also wounded Governor John Connally. And "I was never interviewed by the Warren Commission and still don't understand why," he said Saturday."
(September 2023 Vanity Fair article by James Robenalt) "Then came November 22, 1963. A month after returning from Greece, Landis stood on the right rear running board of the Secret Service follow-up car, code-named “Halfback,” in the president’s motorcade as the vehicle headed from Dallas’s Love Field airport to a luncheon at the city’s Trade Mart. Landis was approximately 15 feet away when Kennedy was mortally wounded, a close witness to unspeakable horror. That horror was compounded when the president’s limo reached Parkland Memorial Hospital, where Landis and Clint Hill tried to coax Jackie to release the president, whom, by that point, she had cradled in her lap. Climbing into the back seat area, which had been spattered with blood and brains and bullet fragments, both agents, according to their subsequent accounts, gently encouraged the first lady to let go. As she did—standing up to follow Hill and another agent, Roy Kellerman, who lifted her husband’s body onto a gurney and raced into the hospital—Landis saw and did something that he has kept secret for six decades, he says now. He claims he spotted a bullet resting on the top of the back of the seat. He says he picked it up, put it in his pocket, and brought it into the hospital. Then, upon entering Trauma Room No. 1 (at that stage, he was the only nonmedical person in the room besides Mrs. Kennedy, and both stayed for only a short period), he insists, he placed the bullet on a white cotton blanket on the president’s stretcher." (9-9-23 New York Tiimes article by Peter Baker) "He still remembers the first gunshot. For an instant, standing on the running board of the motorcade car, he entertained the vain hope that maybe it was just a firecracker or a blown tire. But he knew guns and he knew better. Then came another shot. And another. And the president slumped down. (Later) What it comes down to is a copper-jacketed 6.5-millimeter projectile. The Warren Commission decided that one of the bullets fired that day struck the president from behind, exited from the front of his throat and continued on to hit Mr. Connally, somehow managing to injure his back, chest, wrist and thigh. It seemed incredible that a single bullet could do all that, so skeptics called it the magic bullet theory. Investigators came to that conclusion partly because the bullet was found on a stretcher believed to have held Mr. Connally at Parkland Memorial Hospital, so they assumed it had exited his body during efforts to save his life. But Mr. Landis, who was never interviewed by the Warren Commission, said that is not what happened. In fact, he said, he was the one who found the bullet — and he found it not in the hospital near Mr. Connally but in the presidential limousine lodged in the back of the seat behind where Kennedy was sitting. When he spotted the bullet after the motorcade arrived at the hospital, he said he grabbed it to thwart souvenir hunters. Then, for reasons that still seem fuzzy even to him, he said he entered the hospital and placed it next to Kennedy on the president’s stretcher, assuming it could somehow help doctors figure out what happened. At some point, he now guesses, the stretchers must have been pushed together and the bullet was shaken from one to another. “There was nobody there to secure the scene, and that was a big, big bother to me,” Mr. Landis said. “All the agents that were there were focused on the president.” A crowd was gathering. “This was all going on so quickly. And I was just afraid that — it was a piece of evidence, that I realized right away. Very important. And I didn’t want it to disappear or get lost. So it was, ‘Paul, you’ve got to make a decision,’ and I grabbed it.’” Mr. Landis theorizes that the bullet struck Kennedy in the back but for some reason was undercharged and did not penetrate deeply, therefore popping back out before the president’s body was removed from the limousine. Mr. Landis has been reluctant to speculate on the larger implications. He always believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. But now? “At this point, I’m beginning to doubt myself,” he said. “Now I begin to wonder.” That is as far as he is willing to go. (Later) Mr. Landis’s account varies in a couple of respects from two written statements he filed in the week after the shooting. Aside from not mentioning finding the bullet, he reported hearing only two shots. “I do not recall hearing a third shot,” he wrote. Likewise, he did not mention going into the trauma room where Kennedy was taken, writing that he “remained outside by the door” when the first lady went in. (Later) At the first shot, Mr. Landis turned to look over his right shoulder in the direction of the sound but spotted nothing. Then he turned to the limousine and saw Kennedy raising his arms, evidently hit. Suddenly, Mr. Landis noticed that Mr. Hill had leapt off their follow-up car and was sprinting toward the limousine. Mr. Landis thought about doing the same but did not have an angle. He said he heard a second shot that sounded louder and finally the fatal third shot that hit Kennedy in the head. Mr. Landis had to duck to avoid being splattered by flesh and brain matter. He knew instantly that the president was dead. Mr. Hill, now on the back of the limousine, turned back and confirmed it with a thumbs down. Once they reached the hospital, Mr. Hill and Mr. Landis coaxed the distraught first lady to let go of her husband so he could be taken inside. After they exited the car, Mr. Landis noticed two bullet fragments in a pool of bright red blood. He fingered one of them but put it back. That’s when he said he noticed the intact bullet in the seam of the tufted dark leather cushioning. He said he slipped it into his coat pocket and headed into the hospital, where he planned to give it to a supervisor, but in the confusion instinctively put it on Kennedy’s stretcher instead."
Analysis: Landis only heard two shots: one early shot striking the President, and the head shot, which he initially thought may have come from the knoll. As Hill, he makes note of the unusual sound of the last shot. Was this the two shots heard by others heard as one? It is also worth noting that the Discovery Channel, in The Kennedy Detail, hid Landis' only hearing two shots from its viewers by inserting his stating he heard a second report into their program BEFORE Clint Hill and then Landis described the head shot. They failed to reveal that the second report heard by both Hill and Landis, the witnesses on the program, WAS the head shot. While Hill claimed he'd failed to hear what the program's producers would have us believe was the second shot because he was focused on running to the limo, Landis had no such excuse. And so, presto change-o, with some creative editing, the program's producers had Landis mention a second report when the program's producers wanted him to say there was a second shot--before he noticed Clint Hill running to the limo and saw Kennedy's head explode--even though he'd never prior to this program claimed to hear such a shot. Shame shame shame. That Landis was a witting participant in this deception is suggested by his later words to Leon Bib, in which he suddenly claimed to hear a third shot. Shame and shame again. Or not. Landis was quite old Only heard two shots. First shot hit 190-224.
Below: a gif created by Martin Hinrichs comparing the President's guards' positions at Zapruder frame 193 and Zapruder frame 202, a half-a-second later. Most of them have not moved, or have just started to turn their heads. But one has just jerked his head noticeably to the right at the same time the President has jerked his head noticeably to the left: George Hickey.
Let's see what he had to say.
George Hickey sat on the driver’s side of the rear seat of the back-up car. (11-22-63 report, 18H765) “As 100-X made the turn and proceeded a short distance, I heard what seemed to me that a firecracker exploded to the right and rear. I stood partially up and turned to the rear to see if I could observe anything. Nothing was observed and I turned around and looked at the President’s car. The President was slumped to the left in the car. I heard what appeared to be two shots and it seemed as if the right side of his head was hit and his hair flew forward.” (11-30-63 report, 18H761-764) “Just prior to the shooting the Presidential car turned left at the intersection and started down an incline toward an underpass followed by 679x. After a very short distance I heard a loud report which sounded like a firecracker…I stood up and looked to my right and rear in an attempt to identify it. Nothing caught my attention except people shouting and cheering. A disturbance in 679X caused me to look forward to the President’s car. Perhaps 2 or 3 seconds elapsed from the time I looked to the rear and then looked at the President. He was slumped forward and to his left, and was straightening up to an almost erect sitting position as I turned and looked. At the moment he was almost sitting erect I heard two reports which I thought were shots and that appeared to me completely different in sound from the first report and were in such rapid succession that there seemed to be practically no time element between them. It looked to me as if the president was struck in the right upper rear of the head. The first shot of the second two seemed as if it missed because the hair on the right side of his head flew forward and there didn’t seem to be any impact against his head. The last shot seemed to hit his head and cause a noise at the point of impact which made him fall forward and to his left again. Possibly four or five seconds elapsed from the time of the first report and the last. At the end of the last report I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR 15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the rear. At this point the cars were passing under the over-pass and as a result we had left the scene of the shooting. I kept the AR 15 rifle ready as we proceeded at a high rate of speed to the hospital.” (6-15-78 HSCA interview, as reported by Joe Backes in his 1-30-96 article The 12th Batch) "After they made the turn from Houston onto Elm, the Presidential limousine was about 20 feet ahead when Hickey heard what he thought sounded like a firecracker coming from his right rear. He stood up and looked towards the right rear but observed nothing. He heard excited talking in the front of his car and turned to the front. He observed that the President had slumped forward and to the left. Mrs. Kennedy appeared to be aiding him and he was coming to an upright position. Hickey then heard two reports sounding like gunfire and saw what he described as a cloud of dust appear from the right rear of President Kennedy's head. Hickey stated that he would guess at about 3 to 4 seconds between the first and second shots. He stated that the second and third shots were almost simultaneous." Analysis: As Hickey makes a rapid turn to his right in the split second between the Betzner photo (z-186) and the Willis photo (z-202), and as he states he turned to the right after hearing the first shot, his statements are exceptionally helpful. His statement that the last two shots came in together but that he thought the first one merely brushed past Kennedy’s hair is also informative, and is indicative that the first of these two shots struck the President. Hickey, not surprisingly, was not called to testify by the Warren Commission. First shot hit 190. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot probably after the head shot).
Now, one can't rightly discuss Hickey without noting he ended up in the middle of one of the wildest and longest-lasting theories about the assassination. In the late 1960's and 1970's researcher Howard Donahue, puzzled by the medical evidence, began looking for a second shooter beyond Oswald, closer to the ground. And voila! he found Hickey, and his admission he picked up an AR-15 after the shooting.
Here's Hickey with this rifle, in a photo taken by Al Volkland as the presidential limo raced down the Stemmons Freeway to Parkland Hospital. (And yes, that's Dealey Plaza in the background.)
And here is a blow-up from this photo. That's Sam Kinney behind the wheel, and Tim McIntyre--who'd climbed into the car from the running board--in front of Hickey.
Well, Donahue convinced himself Hickey raised this rifle after the second shot, and accidentally shot Kennedy in the back of the head from 25 feet behind, with essentially no one noticing (or at least admitting that they'd noticed). Nope, not even Kennedy's pal Dave Powers, sitting on the seat in front of Hickey, with his ears mere feet from the muzzle of the AR-15...
Now, Donahue's theory would have been dead on arrival, would it not have been for Bonar Menninger, a professional journalist who immersed himself in Donahue's theory, and told Donahue's story in Mortal Error, published 1992. This well-written book caused quite a stir. Fresh on the heels of Oliver Stone's JFK, people were looking for an alternative, where the government wasn't covering up a conspiracy, but covering up an embarrassing accident. And they found such an alternative in Mortal Error.
And yet, even so, the number of converts was small. This remained the case for decades, until 2013, when Australian celebrity ex-cop Colin McLaren published JFK: The Smoking Gun, and starred in a surprisingly well-received TV show pushing Donahue and McLaren's belief Hickey killed Kennedy.
The show was bunkum, of course. Perhaps its worst deception was its failure to address the Bronson film, which shows Hickey at the moment of the fatal headshot...not shooting Kennedy. This simple fact--that the Bronson film debunks Donahue's theory--had been brought to Donahue and Menninger's attention back in the 90's by Gary Mack--and was the central point in negative reviews of JFK: The Smoking Gun by writers from both sides of the conspiracy/no conspiracy divide.
Now, at this point, McLaren bowed out. This left Menninger to carry the flag.
And carry the flag he did. In October 2017 he roared back with Hidden in Plain Sight, a near-book length article on the Medium True Crime website in which he argued that the Bronson film was too blurry to debunk Donahue. He even got a professional film analyst to state as much.
But here's the problem. Here's the frame designated as the moment of the head shot in the Bronson film.
And here are agents Hickey and Bennett on the back seat of the Secret Service back-up car in this frame. (This image comes from the report of Kenneth Weissman, the film analyst hired by Menninger.)
Now, no gun is visible, correct? That's bad enough. But there's a better way to go about this...
As acknowledged in Mortal Error, the windshield to JFK's back-up car would interfere with an accidental shot from Hickey...unless Hickey was standing up in his seat at the moment of the fatal headshot.
So how did Donahue and Menninger get around this? Well, they presented the scale drawing below. It shows what Donahue concluded to be the relative positions of Hickey, the windshield and Kennedy at the moment of the fatal head shot. (The image has been reversed it for comparison purposes.)
But was this drawing accurate? Was Hickey standing at the moment in question?
Although they knew of the Bronson film, Donahue and Menninger never compared their drawing (what they assumed happened) with the film (what actually happened).
But that shouldn't stop us. It is a relatively simple matter, after all, of overlaying Menninger and Donahue's scale drawing of what they assumed happened over the Bronson film's presentation of what actually happened.
I've done so below. (I've repeated the Bronson frame for ease of comparison.)
And here is a close up of Menninger/Donahue's presentation of Hickey's position when super-imposed on his actual position.
Well, I'll be. Hickey's head in the film is down around the waist of the Hickey figure in Menninger/Donahue's scale drawing. The Bronson film PROVES Hickey was not standing up at the time of the fatal headshot, and this, in turn, PROVES he could not have fired the fatal headshot.
One bad theory down... One million more to go...
Now, get this, Hickey wasn't the only SS agent on the back seat whose words and actions have undergone such scrutiny...
Glen Bennett sat on the right side of the rear seat of the back-up car. (notes written on 11-22-63, 24H541-542) "We made a left hand turn and then a quick right. The President's auto moved down a slight grade and the crowd was very sparse. At this point I heard a noise that immediately reminded me of a firecracker. I immediately, upon hearing the supposed firecracker, looked at the boss's car. At this exact time I saw a shot that hit the boss about 4 inches down from the right shoulder. A second shoot followed immediately and hit the right rear high of the boss's head. I immediately hollered to Special Agent Hickey, seated in the same seat, to get the AR-15. I drew my revolver and looked to the rear and to the left--high left--but was unable to see any one person that could have rendered this terrible tragedy." (11-23-63 report, 18H760) “The motorcade entered an intersection and then proceeded down a grade. At this point the well-wishers numbered but a few, the motorcade continued on down this grade en route to the trade mart. At this point I heard what sounded like a firecracker. I immediately looked from the right/crowd/physical area and looked towards the President who was seated in the right rear seat of his limousine open convertible, At the moment I looked at the back of the President I heard another firecracker noise and saw the shot hit the President about four inches down from the right shoulder. A second shot followed immediately and hit the right rear high of the President’s head. I immediately hollered “he’s hit” and reached for the AR-15 located on the floor of the rear seat. Special Agent Hickey had already picked-up the AR-15. We peered towards the rear and particularly the right side of the area. I had drawn my revolver when I saw SA Hickey had the AR-15. I was unable to see anything or one that could have fired the shoots.” (Signed statement in the 5-5-64 Secret Service report on the behavior of the presidential detail on the night before the shooting, 18H682) "I arrived at the Press Club about 12:30 A.M. and joined agents at a table...I had two beers, thanked the hostess for the club's hospitality and departed about 1:30 A.M....I arrived at The Cellar about 1:40 A.M. and had two grape fruit drinks. I departed The Cellar at approximately 3:00 A.M. and went directly to the hotel." (Note: Bennett reported for duty at 7:20 A.M.) (1-30-78 interview with HSCA investigator, file # 180-10082-10452) “He remembers hearing what he hoped was a firecracker. He then heard another noise and saw what appeared to be a nick in the back of President Kennedy’s coat below the shoulder. He thought the President had been hit in the back…he believes the first and second shots were close together and then a longer pause before the third shot…he does not recall any agents reacting before the third shot. He believes he called out to no one in particular, after the third shot, 'he's been hit'.… he believes he saw the nick in the President’s coat after the second shot.”
Analysis: due to Bennett's suggestion, in his 11-23 report, that the President was hit in the back by the second shot, Bennett is a star witness for LPM theorists. He is not deserving of this star status, however. One problem is that he said the bullet struck Kennedy 4 inches below his shoulder—too low to support the single-bullet theory. He also said the limo was heading down a grade when the first shot rang out, and that the crowd was very sparse--a description far more in line with a shot at 190-224 than at 160. He also said the third shot immediately followed the second. While Bennett was later to tell the HSCA that there was more space between the second and third than between the first and second, there is reason to believe this was simply his adjusting his memory to fit the single-assassin scenario. After all, if he’d really witnessed the second bullet striking Kennedy at Z-224 but didn’t yell “he’s hit!” until after the President was shot in the head five seconds later, he would have to have been the worst Secret Service agent in history. There’s also the problem that the Willis photo at Z-202 shows Bennett still staring to his right. If there’d been a shot at Z-160 and had Bennett immediately turned to his left, as pushed by those claiming Bennett's statement the Rosetta Stone, he should already be looking at Kennedy in the Willis photo. This suggests instead that Bennett heard a shot at 190, not 160. Another problem, as pointed out by researcher Robert Harris, is that the Altgens photo shows Bennett still looking to his right at Z-255. This might make one suspect he heard an early shot, turned to face the President after Z-255, and heard two more shots ring out, associating the first shot with the "nick" in the president's back he first noticed at this time, and the second with the bullet striking Kennedy in the head. This possibility is further supported by the fact that Bennett--in opposition to most every other witness to the president's first being struck--failed to note his subsequent lurch to the left or lean forward. It is also supported by the fact that when speaking to the HSCA's investigator, Bennett backtracked from claiming he saw the bullet hit Kennedy and said instead that he'd noticed a nick in the back of the President's coat. There's another possibility, however. In Bennett's original notes he does not say that he saw the second shot hit the president, or that he heard a shot when he looked at the President and noticed his back wound. He says he saw "a shot that hit the boss". He then writes that "A second shoot followed immediately and hit the right rear high of the boss's head". This suggests the possibility that when Bennett looked at the President he saw "that a shot had hit the boss" and that he then saw a second shot hit Kennedy in the head. This would mean that he'd heard but two shots, which would put his words in line with fellow Secret Service agents Clint Hill and Paul Landis. Should one doubt that Bennett would change his impressions overnight, and go from hearing two shots to the by-then politically-correct three shots, or that someone else would write his 11-23 report and correct his impression, one should consider that in his original notes, Bennett asserted that he'd yelled to Hickey to get the AR-15 rifle, and that only a day later he reported that he tried to get the rifle himself, but Hickey beat him to it. The notes written before Bennett knew the official story also reflect that he turned to his left after hearing the shots, while the typed up report the next day leaves this out. These changes then reflect either Bennett's confusion or his desire to bring his story in alignment with what he'd been told. Maybe someone typed-up Bennett's 11-23 report based on his notes, and made a few changes. No matter what, however, we just can't be sure what he saw. Possible LPM scenario. Possible first shot hit 190, with the last two shots bunched together. Possibly heard but two shots.
After looking at the testimony of but 19 motorcade witnesses--5 in the limousine, 4 on motorcycles, 10 in the follow-up car, we can notice that the pattern established by the earwitnesses is continuing. There are 10 motorcade witnesses now whose statements confirm there was an early hit followed by two shots bunched together. There are 3 others who failed to comment on the bunching but who described the first shot in such a manner that we can conclude that it hit. There are 4 others whose statements fit this same scenario provided they heard the last two shots as one, or missed hearing the last shot. While an LPM theorist might say that the statements of these last four are also consistent with there being a first shot miss at frame 160, the fact is that this would mean speculating that these witnesses didn’t hear a shot that NO ONE who heard three shots has yet described. It is undoubtedly much more logical, when comparing those who heard two shots against those who heard three shots, to assume that those who heard only two shots missed hearing a shot that was heard by those who heard three shots. It is also much more logical to conclude that those witnessing a man’s head explode would not make note of a sound a second or two later, than that 13 of the closest witnesses, men all well familiar with guns, would believe they heard two shots after Kennedy was first hit when there was but one. It is also significant that there are convincing reasons to doubt the accuracy of the statements of the only two witnesses to suggest the first shot missed. For these reasons and more, I submit that the LPM theory is garbage and should be buried. Those already convinced and bored with this may want to jump ahead a few chapters. Those still curious or still subscribing to the LPM scenario should read on.