John Calvin Brewer

John Calvin Brewer

John Calvin Brewer, the son of a foreman on a construction company, was born in Miami, Oklahoma in 1942. When he was two years old the family moved to Lockhart, Texas.

After leaving Lockhart High School he studied at Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos. He stayed for only a year before moving to Nixon Clay Business College.

In September 1961 he found employment at Hardy's Shoe Store in Austin. Ten months later he was made manager of the store in Oak Cliff, Dallas.

Brewer was working in the store on 22nd November 22, 1963. He was listening to the radio when they broke in with the bulletin that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. After hearing a news flash that J. D. Tippit had been shot nearby, he saw a man acting strangely outside the shop: "The police cars were racing up and down Jefferson with their sirens blasting and it appeared to me that this guy was hiding from them. He waited until there was a break in the activity and then he headed west until he got to the Texas Theatre."

John Brewer went into the theatre and spoke to Warren Burroughs, the assistant manager. Burroughs had seen him enter the balcony of the theatre. When the police arrived Brewer accompanied the officers into the cinema where he pointed out the man he had seen acting in a suspicious manner. After a brief struggle Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested.

Primary Sources

(1) John Brewer was interviewed by David Berlin on behalf of the Warren Commission on 2nd April 1964.

Mr. BELIN - When you looked up, did you step out of the store at all?

Mr. BREWER - No; I was still in the store behind the counter, and I looked up and saw the man enter the lobby.

Mr. BELIN - When you say the lobby of your store, first let me ask you to describe how is.... how wide is your store, approximately?

Mr. BREWER - About 20 feet...

Mr. BELIN - All right, you saw a man going into what you referred to as this lobby area?

Mr. BREWER - Yes; and he stood there with his back to the street.

Mr. BELIN - When did he go in now? What did you hear at the time that he stepped into this lobby area?

Mr. BREWER - I heard the police cars coming up Jefferson, and he stepped in, and the police made a U-turn and went back down East Jefferson.

Mr. BELIN - Where did he make the U-turn?

Mr. BREWER - At Zangs.

Mr. BELIN - Do you remember the sirens going away?

Mr. BREWER - Yes; the sirens were going away. I presume back to where the officer had been shot, because it was back down that way. And when they turned and left, Oswald looked over his shoulder and turned around and walked up West Jefferson towards the theatre.

Mr. BELIN - Let me hold you a minute. You used the word Oswald. Did you know who the man was at the time you saw him?

Mr. BREWER - No.

Mr. BELIN - So at the time, you didn't know what his name was?

Mr. BREWER - No.

Mr. BELIN - Will you describe the man you saw?

Mr. BREWER - He was a little man, about 5'9", and weighed about 150 pounds is all...

Mr. BELIN - All right. After you saw him in the lobby of your store there, what you call a lobby area, which is really kind of an extension of the sidewalk, then you saw him leave?

Mr. BREWER - He turned and walked out of the lobby and went up West Jefferson toward the theatre, and I walked out the front and watched him, and he went into the theatre.

Mr. BELIN - What theatre is that?

Mr. BREWER - Texas Theatre....

Mr. BELIN - Well, would you state then what happened? You said that you saw him walk into the Texas Theatre?

Mr. BREWER - He walked into the Texas Theatre and I walked up to the theatre, to the box office and asked Mrs. Postal if she sold a ticket to a man who was wearing a brown shirt, and she said no, she hadn't. She was listening to the radio herself. And I said that a man walked in there, and I was going to go inside and ask the usher if he had seen him.

So I walked in and Butch Burroughs...

Mr. BELIN - Who was Burroughs?

Mr. BREWER - He was behind the counter. He operated the concession and takes tickets. He was behind the concession stand and I asked him if he had seen a man in a brown shirt of that description, matching that description, and he said he had been working behind the counter and hadn't seen anybody. And I asked him if he would come with me and show me where the exits were and we would check the exits. And he asked me why. I told him that I thought the guy looked suspicious.