Primary Sources: Assassination of JFK

For a detailed account of the assassination read an Overview of the Assassination of JFK.
Drawing taken from David Simkin's book, The Assassination of President Kennedy.
Drawing taken from David Simkin's book, The Assassination of President Kennedy.

(B1) Key: (A) Sixth Floor Window (rifle and cartridge cases found here); (B) Wooden Fence on Grassy Knoll where witnesses saw a "puff of smoke". Position of the presidential limousine: (a) position where view of Kennedy from Texas Book Depository is obscured by tree; (b) position at the time of Kennedy's reaction to first shot; (c) position at time of Governor Connally's reaction to a shot; (d) position of Kennedy's car at the time of the fatal head shot.

(B2) Kenneth O'Donnell was interviewed by Arlen Specter on behalf of the Warren Commission ( 1964)

Arlen Specter: Would you outline the origin of that trip to Texas, please?

Kenneth O'Donnell: It came from a conversation between the President and Vice President Johnson, and myself. It concerned President Kennedy's desire, and President Johnson's desire that he came to Texas...

Arlen Specter: In a general way, what was the purpose of the President's trip to Texas in November of 1963?

Kenneth O'Donnell: Well, he hadn't conducted any political activities in Texas. There were great controversies existing. There was a party problem in Texas that the President and the Vice President felt he could be helpful, as both sides of the controversy were supporting President Kennedy, and they felt he could be a bridge between these two groups, and this would be helpful in the election of 1964. I think that is the major reason for the trip.

Why did Lyndon B. Johnson want President Kennedy want to visit Texas in November, 1963.

(B3) Joachim Joesten, How Kennedy Was Killed (1968)

For the plot to kill President Kennedy to have a maximum chance of success, it was necessary to draw him out of an environment where he was ordinarily well-protected, such as Washington, and lead him to a place where the security apparatus could be effectively neutralized. Dallas was just such a place, for there the police force was in the hands of an organisation (The Citizens Council) determined to get rid of the liberal, progressive, peace-minded Chief Executive. In all of the United States, there was no city where Kennedy had more powerful and active enemies. Not only the local police force, but also the regional bureaus of the FBI and the Secret Service were headed by persons hostile to him. In Dallas there was, to use the favorite LBJ term again, a 'consensus' that Kennedy was a president the nation could do without and that Lyndon B. Johnson would make a fine successor. And out of that consensus developed the conspiracy.

Why does Joachim Joesten believe that President Kennedy was invited to Dallas?

(B4) The Warren Commission Report (September, 1964)

When Governor Connally called at the White House on October 4 to discuss the details of the visit, it was agreed that the planning of events in Texas would be left largely to the Governor. At the White House, Kenneth O'Donnell, special assistant to the President, acted as coordinator for the trip.

Everyone agreed that, if there was sufficient time, a motorcade through downtown Dallas would be the best way for the people to see their President. When the trip was planned for only one day, Governor Connally had opposed the motorcade because there was not enough time. The Governor stated, however, that "once we got San Antonio moved from Friday to Thursday afternoon, where that was his initial stop in Texas, then we had the time, and I withdrew my objections to a motorcade." According to O'Donnell, "we had a motorcade wherever we went," particularly in large cities where the purpose was to let the President be seen by as many people as possible. In his experience, "it would be automatic" for the Secret Service to arrange a route which would, within the time allotted, bring the President "through an area which exposes him to the greatest number of people."

Advance preparations for President Kennedy's visit to Dallas were primarily the responsibility of two Secret Service agents: Special Agent Winston G. Lawson, a member of the White House detail who acted as the advance agent, and Forrest V. Sorrels, special agent in charge of the Dallas office. Both agents were advised of the trip on November 4. Lawson received a tentative schedule of the Texas trip on November 8 from Roy H. Kellerman, assistant special agent in charge of the White House detail, who was the Secret. Service official responsible for the entire Texas journey. As advance agent working closely with Sorrels, Lawson had responsibility for arranging the timetable for the President's visit to Dallas and coordinating local activities with the White House staff, the organizations directly concerned with the visit, and local law enforcement officials. Lawson's most important responsibilities were to take preventive action against anyone in Dallas considered a threat to the President, to select the luncheon site and motorcade route, and to plan security measures for the luncheon and the motorcade.

Secret Service arrangements for Presidential trips, which were followed in the Dallas motorcade, are designed to provide protection while permitting large numbers of people to see the President. Every effort is made to prevent unscheduled stops, although the President may, and in Dallas did, order stops in order to greet the public. Men the motorcade slows or stops, agents take positions between the President and the crowd. The order of vehicles in the Dallas motorcade was as follows:

Motorcycles - Dallas police motorcycles preceded the pilot car.

The pilot car - Manned by officers of the Dallas Police Department, this automobile preceded the main party by approximately quarter of a mile. Its function was to alert police along the route that the motorcade was approaching and to check for signs of trouble.

Motorcycles - Next came four to six motorcycle policemen whose main purpose was to keep the crowd back.

The lead car - Described as a "rolling command car," this was an unmarked Dallas police car, driven by Chief of Police Curry and occupied by Secret Service Agents Sorrels and Lawson and by Dallas County Sheriff J. E. Decker. The occupants scanned the crowd and the buildings along the route. Their main function was to spot trouble in advance and to direct any necessary steps to meet the trouble. Following normal practice, the lead automobile stayed proximately four to five car lengths ahead of the President's limousine.

The Presidential limousine - The President's automobile was specially designed 1961 Lincoln convertible with two collapsible jump seats between the front and rear seats. It was outfitted with a clear plastic bubbletop which was neither bulletproof nor bullet resistant. Because the skies had cleared in Dallas, Lawson directed that the top not be used for the day's activities. He acted on instructions he had received (from Kenneth O'Donnell, special assistant to the President).

Who organized the motorcade in Dallas on 22nd November, 1963?

(B5) Bob Jackson, a photographer for the Dallas Time Herald, was in the Dealey Plaza when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. His account was quoted in The Times on 23rd November, 1963.

When we heard the first shot the President had already turned the corner. We had not made the corner yet. Then we heard two more shots. As far as I know, three shots were all I heard.

Since I was facing the building where the shots were coming from (Texas Book Depository), I just glanced up and saw two coloured men in a window straining to look at a window up above them. As I looked up to the window above, I saw a rifle being pulled back in the window. It might have been resting on the windowsill. I didn't see a man. I didn't even see if it had a scope (telescopic sight) on it.

As soon as I saw the rifle, I knew someone was trying to kill them, but it never entered my mind that he could be dead. I just couldn't believe it.

What valuable evidence did Bob Jackson provide to the Dallas Police Department about the assassination of President Kennedy?

(B6) Harold Norman, was watching the motorcade from the 5th floor of the Texas Book Depository. He gave an account of what he saw on The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television on 26th June, 1967.

Then I think, about that time, well, Jarman says, somebody's shooting at the President. And I told Jarman, I said, I said, I know it is because I could hear - they are above me, and I could hear the shots and everything, and I could even hear the empty cartridges hitting the floor. I mean, after the shots had been fired.

And so, after the shots were fired, well, all the officers and everyone else seemed to think they came from by the track over by the underpass, because that's where everyone ran, over that-a-way. But, I - just like I said, I've been hunting enough to know the sound of a rifle from-from a backfire or a firecracker or anything like - especially that close to me.

According to Harold Norman, where did most people think the shots had been fired from?

(B7) Carolyn Walther, The Warren Report: Part 1, CBS Television (25th June, 1967)

I think I got out on the street about 12:15 or 12:20 - something along there. And we were looking around, back and forth. People were talking and laughing, and in a very good mood. And I looked at this building (Texas Book Depository) and saw a man with a gun, and there was another man standing to his right. I could not see all of this man, and I couldn't see his face.

The other man was holding a short gun. It wasn't as long as a rifle. He was holding it pointed down, and he was kneeling in the window, or sitting. His arms were on the window. He was holding the gun in a downward position, and he was looking downward. ...

Just as I was looking at this man the people started shouting "Here he comes, here he comes." So I looked the other way and forgot about the man.

The President passed us, and he was smiling, and everybody was waving. Then the last of the cars went by, and I heard the shot. I thought it was a firecracker. Then I started back to work, and it was along the curb, and then two shots right together, and then another one. I'm sure there were four shots.

And then I said "It's gunshots." And people started screaming. I told them that I saw the man had light hair, or brown, and was wearing a white shirt. I explained to the FBI agents that I wasn't sure about that. That was my impression on thinking about it later. That I thought that was the way the man was dressed. This other man was wearing a brown suit. That was all I could see, half of this man's body from his shoulders to his hips. He was facing the window. Evidently he was looking out. But his face was in the upper part, where the glass was dirty, and I couldn't see his face....

The first statement that I made, I said the man was on the fourth or fifth floor, and I still feel the same way.

How does Carolyn Walther's account of the assassination differ from that of Bob Jackson (B5) and Harold Norman (B6)?

(B8) Michael Kurtz, Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination From a Historians Perspective (1982)

Intensive scientific analysis of the Zapruder film by a team of Life researchers, as well as by the Itek Corporation, reveals that the head actually undergoes a double movement. The optically enhanced computer analysis by Itek demonstrated that in frames Z312 through Z313, President Kennedy's head flies rapidly forward. This forward head movement is not apparent to the viewer of the film because the head moves faster than the speed of the film and camera. In frame 314 the head reverses direction and moves rapidly backward until it hits the rear seat in frames Z321...

The most plausible explanation for the forward and backward movement of the head and body is that of a double impact on the head, one shot fired from the rear, and the other from the front. The author has interviewed numerous physicians and veterans who served in Italy during World War II. He has also interviewed several veterans of the Italian Army who used Mannlicher-Carcano rifles and copper-jacketed ammunition. Collectively, these people have seen several thousand gunshot wounds inflicted by Mannlicher-Carcano rifles. Their unanimous experience has been that the type of head wounds suffered by President Kennedy, as well as the double movement of his head, could not possibly have been caused solely by Oswald's rifle.

Why does Michael Kurtz believe there were at least two gunman involved in the assassination of President Kennedy?

(B9) S. M. Holland, The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (26th June, 1967)

Just about the time that the parade turned on Elm Street, about where that truck is - that bus is now, there was a shot came from up-the upper end of the street. I couldn't say then, at that time, that it came from the Book Depository book

store. But I knew that it came from the other end of the street, and the President slumped over forward like that and tried to raise his hand up. And Governor Connally, sitting in front of him on the right side of the car, tried to turn to his right and he was sitting so close to the door that he couldn't make it that-a-way, and he turned back like that with his arm out to the left. And about that time, the second shot was fired and it knocked him over forward and he slumped to the right, and I guess his wife pulled him over in her lap because he fell over in her lap.

And about that time, there was a third report that wasn't nearly as loud as the two previous reports. It came from that picket fence, and then there was a fourth report. The third and the fourth reports was almost simultaneously. But, the third report wasn't nearly as loud as the two previous reports or the fourth report. And I glanced over underneath that green tree and you see a - a little puff of smoke. It looked like a puff of steam or cigarette smoke. And the smoke was about - oh, eight or ten feet off the ground, and about fifteen feet this side of that tree.

What evidence does S. M. Holland provide that there were gunman firing at President Kennedy from behind and in front of the presidential limousine.

(B10) The Zapruder Film film shows the position of Jean Hill (left)and Mary Moorman when John F. Kennedy was shot.
(B10) The Zapruder Film film shows the position of Jean Hill (left)
and Mary Moorman when John F. Kennedy was shot.

(B11) Jean Hill interviewed by Arlen Specter from the Warren Commission (24th March, 1964)

Arlen Specter: You did think there was more than one person shooting?

Jean Hill: Yes, sir.

Arlen Specter: What made you think that?

Jean Hill: The way the gun report sounded and the difference in the way they were fired-the timing.

Arlen Specter: What was your impression as to the source of the second group of shots which you have described as the fourth, perhaps the fifth, and perhaps the sixth shot?

Jean Hill: Well, nothing, except that I thought that they were fired by someone else.

Arlen Specter: And did you have any idea where they were coming from?

Jean Hill: No; as I said, I thought they were coming from the general direction of that knoll.

Jean Hill was watching the motorcade from the grassy knoll facing the Texas School Depository Building. Study source B8. How does this picture explain why Jean Hill's testimony was considered to be so important.

(B12) Jean Hill, speech (November, 1991)

That area (of the Dealey Plaza) is sloping so when Mary reached up to take the picture, we did get a picture of the School Book Depository. We knew that, because we had a Polaroid camera, we were going to have to be quick if we wanted to take more than one picture. So what we planned was, Mary would take the picture, I would pull it out of the camera, coat it with fixative and put it in my pocket. That way we could keep shooting. When the head shot came, Mary fell down and the film (i.e., the famous photograph) was still in the camera. When the motorcade came around, there were so many voters on the other side (of Elm Street) that I knew the President was never going to look at me, so I yelled, "Hey Mr. President, I want to take your picture!" Just then his hands came up and the shots started ringing out. Then, in half the time it takes for me to tell it, I looked across the street and I saw them shooting from the knoll. I did get the impression that day that there was more than one shooter, but I had the idea that the good guys and the bad guys were shooting at each other. I guess I was a victim of too much television, because I assumed that the good guys always shot at the bad guys. Mary was on the grass shouting, "Get down! Get down! They're shooting! They're shooting!" Nobody was moving and I looked up and saw this man, moving rather quickly in front of the School Book Depository toward the railroad tracks, heading west, toward the area where I had seen the man shooting on the knoll. So, I thought to myself, "This man is getting away. I've got to do something. I've got to catch him." I jumped out into the street. One of the motorcyclists was turning his motor, looking up and all around for the shooter, and he almost ran me over. It scared me so bad, I went back to get Mary to go with me. She was still down on the ground. I couldn't get her to go, so I left her. I ran across and went up the hill. When I got there a hand came down on my shoulder, and it was a firm grip. This man said, "You're coming with me." And I said, "No, I can't come with you, I have to get this man." I'm not very good at doing what I'm told. He showed me I.D. It said Secret Service. It looked official to me. I tried to turn away from him and he said a second time, "You're going with me." At this point, a second man came and grabbed me from the other side, and they ran their hands through my pockets. They didn't say, "Do you have the picture? Which pocket?" They just ran their hands

through my pockets and took it. They both held me up here (at the shoulder near the neck) someplace, where you could hurt somebody badly - and they told me, "Smile. Act like you're with your boyfriends." But I couldn't smile because it hurt too badly. And they said, "Here we go," each one holding me by a shoulder. They took me to the Records Building and we went up to a room on the fourth floor. There were two guys sitting there on the other side of a table looking out a window that overlooked "the killing zone," where you could see all of the goings on. You got the impression that they had been sitting there for a long time. They asked me what I had seen, and it became clear that they knew what I had seen. They asked me how many shots I had heard and I told them four to six. And they said, "No, you didn't. There were three shots. We have three bullets and that's all we're going to commit to now." I said, "Well, I know what I heard," and they told me, "What you heard were echoes. You would be very wise to keep your mouth shut." Well, I guess I've never been that wise. I know the difference between firecrackers, echoes, and gunshots. I'm the daughter of a game ranger, and my father took me shooting all my life.

How many shots did Jean Hill hear? Why did the Secret Service agents disagree with this account?

(B13) William Manchester, The Death of a President (1967)

There was a sudden, sharp, shattering sound. Various individuals heard it differently. Jacqueline Kennedy believed it was a motorcycle noise. Curry was under the impression that someone had fired a railroad torpedo. Ronald Fischer and Bob Edwards, assuming that it was a backfire, chuckled. Most of the hunters in the motorcade - Sorrels, Connally, Yarborough, Gonzaiez, Albert Thomas - instinctively identified it as rifle fire.

But the White House Detail was confused. Their experience in outdoor shooting was limited to two qualification courses a year on a range in Washington's National Arboretum. There they heard only their own weapons, and they were unaccustomed to the bizarre effects that are created when small-arms fire echoes among unfamiliar structures - in this case, the buildings of Dealey Plaza. Emory Roberts recognized Oswald's first shot as a shot. So did Youngblood, whose alert response may have saved Lyndon Johnson's life. They were exceptions. The men in Halfback were bewildered. They glanced around uncertainly. Lawson, Kellerman, Greer, Ready, and Hill all thought that a firecracker had been exploded. The fact that this was a common reaction is no mitigation. It was the responsibility of James J. Rowley, Chief of the Secret Service, and Jerry Behn, Head of the White House Detail, to see that their agents were trained to cope with precisely this sort of emergency. They were supposed to be picked men, honed to a matchless edge. It was comprehensible that Roy Truly should dismiss the first shot as a cherry bomb. It was even fathomable that Patrolman James M. Chaney, mounted on a motorcycle six feet from the Lincoln, should think that another machine had backfired. Chaney was an ordinary policeman, not a Presidential bodyguard. The protection of the Chief Executive, on the other hand, was the profession of Secret Service agents. They existed for no other reason. Apart from Clint Hill - and perhaps Jack Ready, who started to step off the right running board and was ordered back by Roberts - the behaviour of the men in the follow-up car was unresponsive. Even more tragic was the perplexity of Roy Kellerman, the ranking agent in Dallas, and Bill Greer, who was under Kellerman's supervision. Kellerman and Greer were in a position to take swift evasive action, and for five terrible seconds they were immobilized.

Hill, though mistaken about the noise, saw Kennedy lurch forward and grab his neck. That was enough for Clint. With his extraordinary reflexes he leaped into Elm Street and charged forward.

Why is William Manchester critical of the way the Secret Service behaved during the assassination of President Kennedy?

(B14) Michael L. Kurtz, Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination From a Historians Perspective (1982)

The Zapruder and other films and photographs of the assassination clearly reveal the utter lack of response by Secret Service agents Roy Kellerman and James Greer, who were in the front seat of the presidential limousine. After the first two shots, Greer actually slowed the vehicle to less than five miles an hour. Kellerman merely sat in the front seat, seemingly oblivious to the shooting. In contrast, Secret Service Agent Rufus Youngblood responded instantly to the first shot, and before the head shots were fired, had covered Vice-President Lyndon Johnson with his body.

Trained to react instantaneously, as in the attempted assassinations of President Gerald Ford by Lynette Fromme and Sara Jane Moore and of President Ronald Reagan by John Warnock Hinckley, the Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Kennedy simply neglected their duty. The reason for their neglect remains one of the more intriguing mysteries of the assassination.

Does Michael Kurtz agree with William Manchester (B13) about the behaviour of the Secret Service during the assassination of President Kennedy?

(B15) The Warren Commission Report (September, 1964)

The Commission has concluded that some of the advance preparations in Dallas made by the Secret Service, such as the detailed security measures taken at Love Field and the Trade Mart, were thorough and well executed. In other respects, however, the Commission has concluded that the advance preparations for the President's trip were deficient.

Although the Secret Service is compelled to rely to a great extent on local law enforcement officials, its procedures at the time of the Dallas trip did not call for well-defined instructions as to the respective responsibilities of the police officials and others assisting in the protection of the President.

The procedures relied upon by the Secret Service for detecting the presence of an assassin located in a building along a motorcade route were inadequate. At the time of the trip to Dallas, the Secret Service as a matter of practice did not investigate, or cause to be checked, any building located along the motorcade route to be taken by the President. The responsibility for observing windows in these buildings during the motorcade was divided between local police personnel stationed on the streets to regulate crowds and Secret Service agents riding in the motorcade. Based on its investigation the Commission has concluded that these arrangements during the trip to Dallas were clearly not sufficient.

The configuration of the Presidential car and the seating arrangements of the Secret Service agents in the car did not afford the Secret Service agents the opportunity they should have had to be of immediate assistance to the President at the first sign of danger.

Within these limitations, however, the Commission finds that the agents most immediately responsible for the President's safety reacted promptly at the time the shots were fired from the Texas School Book Depository Building.

Did the Warren Commission agree with William Manchester and Michael Kurtz about the behaviour of the Secret Service during the assassination of President Kennedy?

(B16) Clinton J. Hill, statement dated 30th November, 1963.

My instructions for Dallas were to work the left rear of the Presidential automobile and remain in close proximity to Mrs. John F. Kennedy at all times. The agent assigned to work the left rear of the Presidential automobile rides on the forward portion of the left hand running board of the Secret Service follow-up car and only moves forward to walk alongside the Presidential automobile when it slows to such a pace that people can readily approach the auto on foot. If the crowd is very heavy, but the automobile is running at a rather rapid speed, the agent rides on the left rear of the Presidential automobile on a step specifically designed for that purpose...

The motorcade made a right hand turn onto Elm Street. I was on the forward portion of the left running board of the follow-up car. The motorcade made a left hand turn from Elm Street toward an underpass. We were traveling about 12 to 15 miles per hour. 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 sound 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 lying in the seat. The time of the shooting was approximately 12:30 p.m., Dallas time. I looked forward to the jump seats and noticed Governor Connally's chest was covered with blood and he was slumped to his left and partially covered up by his wife. I had not realized until this point that the Governor had been shot.

When we arrived at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, I jumped off the Presidential automobile, removed my suit coat and covered the President's head and upper chest with it. I assisted in lifting the President from the rear seat of the automobile onto a wheel type stretcher and accompanied the President and Mrs. Kennedy into the Emergency Room. Governor Connally had been placed in an Emergency Room across the hall.

What was Clint Hill's main responsibility during the Dallas motorcade? Was he successful in carrying out this responsibility.

(B17) William Greer interviewed by Arlen Specter on behalf of the Warren Commission (9th March, 1964)

Arlen Specter: Describe as best you can the types of sound of the second report, as distinguished from the first noise which you said was similar to a motorcycle backfire?

William Greer: 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...

Arlen Specter: Did you step on the accelerator before, simultaneously or after Mr. Kellerman instructed you to accelerate?

William Greer: It was about simultaneously.

Arlen Specter: So that it was your reaction to accelerate prior to the time...

William Greer: Yes, sir.

Arlen Specter: You had gotten that instruction?

William Greer: Yes, sir; it was my reaction that caused me to accelerate.

Arlen Specter: Do you recollect whether you accelerated before or at the same time or after the third shot?

William Greer: I couldn't really say. Just as soon as I turned my head back from the second shot, right away I accelerated right then. It was a matter of my reflexes to the accelerator.

How did William Greer react when the first shot was fired at President Kennedy.

(B18) Roy Kellerman interviewed by Arlen Specter, John S. Cooper and Gerald Ford on behalf of the Warren Commission (9th March, 1964)

Arlen Specter: All right. Now, describe what occurred as you proceeded down Elm Street after turning off of Houston.

Roy Kellerman: 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 buildings, and were there was a sign on the side of the road which I don't recall what it was or 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. And I turned my head to the right because whatever this noise was I was sure that it came from the right and perhaps into the rear, and 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 here like this.

Arlen Specter: Indicating right hand up toward his neck?

Roy Kellerman: That is right, sir. In fact, both hands were up in that direction...

Arlen Specter: You say that you turned to your right immediately after you heard a shot?

Roy Kellerman: Yes, sir.

Arlen Specter: What was the reason for your reacting to your right?

Roy Kellerman: That was the direction that I heard this noise, pop.

Arlen Specter: Do you have a reaction as to the height from which the noise came?

Roy Kellerman: No; honestly, I do not.

Gerald Ford: Was there any reaction that you noticed on the part of Greer when the noise was noticed by you?

Roy Kellerman: You are referring, Mr. Congressman, to the reaction to get this car out of there?

Gerald Ford: Yes.

Roy Kellerman: Mr. Congressman, I have driven that car many times, and I never cease to be amazed even to this day with the weight of the automobile plus the power that is under the hood; we just literally jumped out of the God - damn road.

Does Roy Kellerman account support the views of William Greer (B17)?

(B19) Evidence of four police officers protecting the motorcade about what the presidential car did when the shots were fired in the Dealey Plaza.

James Chaney (motorcyclist on motorcade): "From the time the first shot ran out, the car stopped completely, pulled to the left and stopped."

Bobby Hargis (motorcyclist on motorcade): "The car stopped immediately after that and stayed stopped for about half a second, then took off."

Earle Brown (police officer on overpass): "When the shots were fired, it (the car) stopped."

J. W. Foster (police officer on overpass): "Immediately after Kennedy was struck... the car pulled to the curb."

How do these accounts differ from that given by William Greer and Roy Kellerman?

(B20) Winston G. Lawson, United States Secret Service, statement (1st December, 1963)

At the corner of Houston and Elm Streets I verified with Chief Curry that we were about five minutes from the Trade Mart and gave this signal over my portable White House Communications radio. We were just approaching a railroad overpass and I checked to see if a police officer was in position there and that no one was directly over our path. I noticed a police officer but also noticed a few persons on the bridge and made motions to have these persons removed from over our path. As the lead car was passing under this bridge I heard the first loud, sharp report and in more rapid succession two more sounds like gunfire. I could see persons to the left of the motorcade vehicles running away. I noticed Agent Hickey standing up in the follow-up car with the automatic weapon and first thought he had fired at someone. Both the President's car and our lead car rapidly accelerated almost simultaneously. I heard a report over the two-way radio that we should proceed to the nearest hospital. I noticed Agent Hill hanging on to the rear of the President's vehicle. A motorcycle escort officer pulled alongside our lead car and said the President had been shot. Chief Curry gave a signal over his radio for police to converge on the area of the incident. I requested Chief Curry to have the hospital contacted that we were on the way. Our lead car assisted the motorcycles in escorting the President's vehicle to Parkland Hospital.

Who did Winston G. Lawson believe had fired the first shot?

(B21) Michael Granberry, Dallas Morning News (22nd November, 2003)

And then came the first shot. Like most witnesses, Winston Lawson recalls two more, though puzzled by the quicker pace between the second and the third, which all but tore the president's head off. The madness that ensued found him and other agents racing to Parkland Hospital, where he was among the first to see the president's body, crumpled in the Lincoln.

"You could see the damage to the head, which was devastating," he says. "You could see the color of the skin, which was gray, but not gray, really. I knew it had to be a fatal wound. I never saw the president alive again or his body again."

Instead, he embarked on a 40-year trial of re-examination. "I must have thought a million times, what could I have done to prevent it?" he said. "And what could I have done about 20,000 windows?"

He says he believes fervently that Oswald acted alone. Conspiracy buffs, he says, neglect to consider the 10 miles of the motorcade's route, stretching from Love Field, to Lemmon Avenue, to Turtle Creek, to Cedar Springs, to Harwood, to Main, to Elm, to history. The trip was to take 35 minutes before arriving at the Trade Mart.

"There were a million better places from which to have fired a weapon," said Lawson.

Why does Winston Lawson believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman?

(B22) Rufus Youngblood, statement on the assassination of John F. Kennedy (29th November, 1963)

I heard an explosion - I was not sure whether it was a firecracker, bomb, bullet, or other explosion. I looked at whatever I could quickly survey, and could not see anything which would indicate the origin of this noise. I noticed that the movements in the Presidential car were very abnormal and, at practically the same time, the movements in the Presidential follow-up car were abnormal. I turned in my seat and with my left arm grasped and shoved the Vice President, at his right shoulder, down and toward Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough. At the same time, I shouted "get down!" I believe I said this more than once and directed it to the Vice President and the other occupants of the rear seat. They all responded very rapidly.

I quickly looked all around again and could see nothing to shoot at, so I stepped over into the back seat and sat on top of the Vice President. I sat in a crouched position and issued orders to the driver. During this time, I heard two more explosion noises and observed SA Hickey in the Presidential follow-up car poised on the car with the AR-15 rifle looking toward the buildings. The second and third explosions made the same type of sound that the first one did as far as I could tell, but by this time I was of the belief that they definitely were shots - not bombs or firecrackers. I am not sure that I was on top of the Vice President before the second shot - he says I was. All of the above related events, from the beginning at the sound of the first shot to the sound of the third shot, happened within a few seconds.

What did Rufus Youngblood do when he realised that a gunman was firing at the motorcade?

(B23) The Times (23rd November, 1963)

The assassination took place as the presidential party drove from the airport into the city of Dallas. One witness said the shots were fired from the window of a building. People flung themselves to the ground as armed policemen and Secret Service agents rushed into the building. A rifle with telescopic sights was found there.

The President was wounded in the head and collapsed into the arms of his wife: She was heard to cry, "Oh, no", as she cradled his head in her lap and the car, spattered with blood, speeded to Parkland Hospital.

The President was still alive when he reached the hospital. He was taken into an emergency room where facilities were said to be adequate. Two Roman Catholic priests were called and the last rites were administered. Mr. Kennedy died at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (7 p.m. G.M.T.), about 35 minutes after the shots were fired.

Vice-president Lyndon Johnson escaped because his car, following the presidential vehicle, was delayed by the large crowds.

Mrs. Connally said afterwards that she thought that President Kennedy was shot first. She said that the President was in the right rear seat of the open car and Mrs. Kennedy was at his left. Mr. Connally faced the President on a jump seat. She herself faced Mrs. Kennedy.

"They had just gone through the town. They were pleased at the reception they had received. They got ready to go through the underpass when a shot was heard. When the first shot was fired Governor Connally turned in his seat and almost instantly was hit."

An assistant to the Governor said: "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."

Two Secret Service men were in the front of the car and one of them instantly telephoned to a control centre and said, "Let's go straight to the nearest hospital."

President Kennedy was shot through the throat and head, possibly by the same bullet, according to Dr. Malcolm Perry, the surgeon who attended him. Dr. Perry said that a tracheotomy was performed to relieve the President's breathing and blood and fluid were administered intravenously. Chest tubes were inserted, and Dr. Perry tried chest cardiac massage, but to no avail....

Dr. Perry said later that Mr. Kennedy suffered a neck wound - a bullet hole in the lower part of the neck. There was a second wound in the President's head, but Dr. Perry was not certain whether it was inflicted by the same bullet.

He said the President lost consciousness as soon as he was hit and never recovered consciousness. "We never had any hope of saving his life," Dr. Perry said, though eight or 10 doctors attended him.

Dr. Perry said that soon after he reached the hospital, Mr. Kennedy's heart action failed and "there was no palpable pulse beat".

According to Mrs. Connally, how many shots were fired at Kennedy's car.

(B24) Tom Wicker, New York Times (23rd November, 1963)

Mr. Kilduff indicated that the President had been shot once. Later medical reports raised the possibility that there had been two wounds. But the death was caused, as far as could be learned, by a massive wound in the brain.

Later in the afternoon, Dr. Malcolm Perry, an attending surgeon, and Dr. Kemp Clark, chief of neurosurgery at Parkland Hospital, gave more details.

Mr. Kennedy was hit by a bullet in the throat, just below the Adam's apple, they said. This wound had the appearance of a bullet's entry.

Mr. Kennedy also had a massive, gaping wound in the back and one on the right side of the head. However, the doctors said it was impossible to determine immediately whether the wounds had been caused by one bullet or two.

Did Dr. Malcolm Perry think there were gunman firing at President Kennedy from behind and in front of the presidential limousine?

(B25) William Turner, The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (27th June, 1967)

Now, what happened there was that the Kennedy motorcade coming down there, the Kennedy limousine - there were shots from the rear, from either the Dallas School Book Depository building, or the Dell Mart, or the courthouse; and there were shots from the grassy knoll. This is triangulation. There is no escape from it, if it's properly executed.

I think that the massive head wound, where the President's head was literally blown apart, came from a quartering angle on the grassy knoll. The bullet was a low velocity dum-dum mercury fulminate hollow-nose, which were outlawed by the Hague Convention, but which are used by paramilitary groups. And that the whole reaction is very consistent to this kind of weapon. That he was struck and his head - doesn't go directly back this way but it goes back and over this way, which would be consistent with the shot from that direction, and Newton's Law of Motion.

Now, I feel also that the escape was very simple. Number one using a revolver or a pistol, the shells do not eject, they don't even have to bother to pick up their discharged shells. Number two, they can slip - put the gun under their coat, and when everybody comes surging up there they can just say, "He went that-a-away". Very simple. In fact, it's so simple that it probably happened that way.

According to William Turner, what caused the massive wound in President Kennedy's head?

(B26) Mark Lane, The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (27th June, 1967)

I think the evidence indicates - of course, the car came down Main, up here, and down to Elm Street, and was approximately here when the first shot was fired. The first shot struck the President in the back of the right shoulder, according to the FBI report, and indicates therefore that it came from some place in the rear - which includes the possibility of it coming from the Book Depository building.

The second bullet struck the President in the throat from the front, came from behind this wooden fence, high up on a grassy knoll. Two more bullets were fired. One struck the Elm - the Main Street curb, and caused some concrete, or lead, to scatter up and strike a spectator named James Tague in the face. Another bullet, fired from the rear, struck Governor Connally in the back. As the limousine moved up to approximately this point, another bullet was fired from the right front, struck the President in the head, drove him - his body, to the left and to the rear, and drove a portion of his skull backward, to the left and to the rear. Five bullets, fired from at least two different directions, the result of a conspiracy.

How many bullets were fired at the president's car. Where did the bullets come from and what did they hit?

(B27) The Warren Commission Report (September, 1964)

Primary Sources

(1) The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository. This determination is based upon the following:

Witnesses at the scene of the assassination saw a rifle being fired from the sixth-floor window of the Depository Building, and some witnesses saw a rifle in the window immediately after the shots were fired.

The nearly whole bullet found on Governor Connally's stretcher at Parkland Memorial Hospital and the two bullet fragments found in the front seat of the Presidential limousine were fired from the 6.5-millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found on the sixth floor of the Depository Building to the exclusion of all other weapons.

The three used cartridge cases found near the window on the sixth floor at the southeast corner of the building were fired from the same rifle which fired the above - described bullet and fragments, to the exclusion of all other weapons.

The windshield in the Presidential limousine was struck by a bullet fragment on the inside surface of the glass, but was not penetrated.

The nature of the bullet wounds suffered by President Kennedy and Governor Connally and the location of the car at the time of the shots establish that the bullets were fired from above and behind the Presidential limousine, striking the President and the Governor as follows:

President Kennedy was first struck by a bullet which entered at the back of his neck and exited through the lower front portion of his neck, causing a wound which would not necessarily have been lethal. The President was struck a second time by a bullet which entered the right-rear portion of his head, causing a massive and fatal wound.

Governor Connally was struck by a bullet which entered on the right side of his back and traveled downward through the right side of his chest, exiting below his right nipple. This bullet then passed through his right wrist and entered his left thigh where it caused a superficial wound.

There is no credible evidence that the shots were fired from the Triple Underpass, ahead of the motorcade, or from any other location.

(2) The weight of the evidence indicates that there were three shots fired.

(3) Although it is not necessary to any essential findings of the Commission to determine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive evidence from the experts to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President's throat also caused Governor Connally's wounds. However, Governor Connally's testimony and certain other factors have given rise to some difference of opinion as to this probability but there is no question in the mind of any member of the Commission that all the shots which caused the President's and Governor Connally's wounds were fired from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.

(4) The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.

How many of the witnesses in this unit supplied evidence that supported the conclusions of the Warren Commission? How many of the witnesses contradicted the conclusions of the Warren Commission?

(B28) House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979)

Findings of the Select Committee on Assassinations in the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963.

Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots at President John F. Kennedy. The second and third shots he fired struck the President. The third shot he fired killed the President.

President Kennedy was struck by two rifle shots fired from behind him.

The shots that struck President Kennedy from behind him were fired from the sixth floor window of the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository building.

Lee Harvey Oswald owned the rifle that was used to fire the shots from the sixth floor window of the southeast comer of the Texas School Book Depository building.

Lee Harvey Oswald, shortly before the assassination, had access to and was present on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building.

Lee Harvey Oswald's other actions tend to support the conclusion that he assassinated President Kennedy.

Scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy. Other scientific evidence does not preclude the possibility of two gunmen firing at the President. Scientific evidence negates some specific conspiracy allegations.

The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee is unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy.

How many of the witnesses in this unit supplied evidence that supported the conclusions of the House Select Committee on Assassinations? How many of the witnesses contradicted the conclusions of the House Select Committee on Assassinations?