Seymour Weitzman : Biography

Seymour Weitzman

Seymour Weitzman was born in Dallas, Texas. During the Second World War he served in the United States Air Force (USAAF) but he was shot down and became a prisoner of war in Japan.

Weitzman graduated from Indiana Engineering School in 1945. He returned to Dallas and was district supervisor and manager for Holly's Dress Shops for 15 years.

In 1960 Weitzman began work for the Dallas Police Department. On 22nd November, 1963, Weitzman and Roger Craig discovered the rifle on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. He initially described it as a 7.65 Mauser. Later he changed his mind and said it was a Mannlicher-Carcano.

Weitzman later gave evidence to the Warren Commission, and the CBS: The Warren Report.

Primary Sources

(1) Seymour Weitzman, interviewed by Joe Ball on behalf of the Warren Commission on 1st April, 1964.

Joe Ball: On November 22, 1963, around noon, where were you?

Seymour Weitzman: I was standing on the corner of Main and Houston.

Joe Ball: Did you see the President's car pass?

Seymour Weitzman: Yes, sir; we did. We watched the President pass and we turned and started back to the courthouse when we heard the shots.

Joe Ball: You say you turned and were starting back to the courthouse - what courthouse and what is the location of that courthouse?

Seymour Weitzman: Sitting on Main, Houston, Record and so forth. We were at the back side and we turned around and were going into the Main Street entrance. We made maybe three or four steps when we heard what we thought at that time was either a rifle shot or a firecracker, I mean at that second.

Joe Ball: How many shots did you hear?

Seymour Weitzman: Three distinct shots.

Joe Ball: How were they spaced?

Seymour Weitzman: First one, then the second two seemed to be simultaneously.

Joe Ball: You mean the first and then there was a pause?

Seymour Weitzman: There was a little period in between the second and third shot.

Joe Ball: What was the longest, between the first and second or the second and third shot; which had the longest time lapse in there?

Seymour Weitzman: Between the first and second shot.

Joe Ball: What did you do then?

Seymour Weitzman: I immediately ran toward the President's car. Of course, it was speeding away and somebody said the shots or the firecrackers, whatever it was at that time, we still didn't know the President was shot, came from the wall. I immediately scaled that wall.

Joe Ball: What is the location of that wall?

Seymour Weitzman: It would be between the railroad overpass and I can't remember the name of that little street that runs off Elm; it's cater-corner - the section there between the - what do you call it - the monument section...

Joe Ball: What did you do after that?

Seymour Weitzman: After that, we entered the building and started to search floor to floor and we started on the first floor, second floor, third floor and on up, when we got up to the fifth or sixth floor, I forget, I believe it was the sixth floor, the chief deputy or whoever was in charge of the floor, I forget the officer's name, from the sheriff's office, said he wanted that floor torn apart. He wanted that gun and it was there somewhere, so myself and another officer from the sheriff's department, I can't remember his name, he and I proceeded until we...

Joe Ball: Was his name Boone?

Seymour Weitzman: That is correct, Boone and I, and as he was looking over the rear section of the building, I would say the northwest corner, I was on the floor looking under the flat at the same time he was looking on the top side and we saw the gun, I would say, simultaneously and I said, "There it is" and he started hollering, "We got it." It was covered with boxes. It was well protected as far as the naked eye because I would venture to say eight or nine of us stumbled over that gun a couple times before we thoroughly searched the building.

Joe Ball: Did you touch it?

Seymour Weitzman: No, sir; we made a man-tight barricade until the crime lab came up and removed the gun itself.

Joe Ball: The crime lab from the Dallas Police Department?

Seymour Weitzman: Yes, sir...

Joe Ball: In the statement that you made to the Dallas Police Department that afternoon, you referred to the rifle as a 7.65 Mauser bolt action?

Seymour Weitzman: In a glance, that's what it looked like.

Joe Ball: That's what it looked like did you say that or someone else say that?

Seymour Weitzman: No; I said that. I thought it was one.

Joe Ball: Are you fairly familiar with rifles?

Seymour Weitzman: Fairly familiar because I was in the sporting goods business awhile....

Joe Ball: Now, in your statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you gave a description of the rifle, how it looked.

Seymour Weitzman: I said it was a Mauser-type action, didn't I?

Joe Ball: Mauser bolt action.

Seymour Weitzman: And at the time I looked at it, I believe I said it was 2.5 scope on it and I believe I said it was a Weaver but it wasn't; it turned out to be anything but a Weaver, but that was at a glance.

Joe Ball: You also said it was a gun metal color?

Seymour Weitzman: Yes.

Joe Ball: Gray or blue?

Seymour Weitzman: Blue metal.

(2) Matthew Smith, JFK: The Second Plot (1992)

During a thorough search of the sixth floor of the School Book Depository a rifle was found. Unhappily for the Warren Commissioners, the four police officers present at the time it was discovered, unanimously identified it as a German 7.65 Mauser. Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone found the rifle following the movement of book boxes by Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney and called Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman to witness his discovery. Another Deputy Sheriff, Roger Craig, was thereabouts and he saw the gun and heard the conversations of the others. The officers had no doubts about their identification and affidavits were drawn up by Boone and Weitzman, who described the weapon in detail, noting the colour of the sling and the scope. Police Captain Will Fritz was also present at the scene and he, also, is claimed to have agreed that the rifle was a 7.65 Mauser. District Attorney Henry M. Wade, in a television interview, referred to the sixth-floor discovery and quoted the weapon as a Mauser, a statement picked up by the press and reported widely. Following the finding of the gun, however, it was collected by Lieutenant. C. Day and taken to Police Headquarters, where it was logged as a 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano, an Italian carbine, bearing the serial number C2766. Mannlicher-Carcano Italian carbine No. C2766, it was claimed, belonged to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Those concerned with the finding of the rifle at the Book Depository and who had written affidavits, Boone and Weitzman, were pressed, under questioning by the Commission, to review their identification of it. The Mannlicher-Carcano, at first glance, looked very much like 7.65 Mauser, it is true. How would they account, though, for a situation in which they had been close enough to describe the colour of the sling and yet had made an error in identifying the rifle itself? After all, the Mannlicher-Carcano bears the legend 'Made in Italy' on the butt, whereas the German gun has the name 'Mauser' stamped on the barrel! Were these officers unable to read? In spite of any argument which might be brought to bear, they both, nonetheless, changed their testimony and conceded they had made a mistake.