The Events In Dealey Plaza
Although the official account of events still requires a single shooter firing from the Book Depository Building, there are few who do not believe some form of conspiracy took place, evidenced by the fact that shots were fired from more than one location. As a minimum, the consensus is that shots were fired from the Grassy Knoll as well as the Book Depository. Other theories place a gunman on the lower levels of the Dal Tex Building on the corner of Houston and Elm Streets, across the road from the Book Depository. Further theories place gunmen on the County Records Office or The Triple Overpass.
Strange events such as the "Umbrella Man" were seen. This man was standing on the north side of Elm Street and was observed to erect an umbrella just as the limousine passed. Was this some form of signal or a protest against the President’s father as the subject later explained?
Apart from the massive detail of the Zapruder film, further important evidence exists as to the direction and origination of the shots fired. These include:
- The injuries to President Kennedy;
- The injuries to Governor Connally;
- The fracture in the windshield of the limousine;
- The damage to the top frame of the windshield;
- The injury to James Tague on the far side of Dealey Plaza;
- The bullet found in the ground on the south side of Elm Street;
- The evidence of many witnesses who heard or saw something relevant to the shootings.
If we put all this evidence together we need to formulate a reasonable explanation for the source and final resting place for all the shots fired.
The Throat/Back Shot
Some speculate that this injury to the President originated from the Grassy Knoll, ie from the same shooter responsible for the head shot. I am uncomfortable with this theory because I have found no reference to any witness who claimed to see or hear more than one shot fired from the Grassy Knoll. As they were all so certain of the origin of the head shot fired from the Grassy Knoll, I cannot see them missing an earlier shot.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of bullet marks or injuries to bystanders behind the presidential limousine. Of course, it could have been lucky, and the shot just happened to miss everyone, but somehow I find that hard to believe. It seems to me to be more credible that this shot originated behind the President, missed all other occupants of the car and struck the windshield, the frame or the front dashboard of the car. We know this first shot cannot be responsible for the crack in the windshield which is not visible in the James Altgens taken just after the first shot.
Some are tempted to suggest the shot was frontal because doctors at Parkland hospital suggested that the hole in the throat was a wound of entry. This was based on a very peremptory observation prior to making an incision for an tracheotomy, under extreme conditions of urgency and tension. I find it hard to believe they were in a position to make a clear and irrefutable analysis, especially as the skin in the neck is loose and may behave unusually to bullet penetration. Assuming a powerful rifle, with high-velocity bullets had been used, one might have expected an indistinguishable entry and exit wound.
The horizontal trajectory of the injury is quite shallow, totally inconsistent with a shot from the sixth floor of the Book Depository. More likely would have been a shot from a lower vantage point, such as from the Dal Tex building. Shots fired from here could usefully explain the damage to the windshield and the frame around the windshield, just above the rear-view mirror.
The Connally Injuries
Governor Connally was seriously injured. A bullet traversed his torso completely and ended up embedded in his left thigh. He underwent extensive surgery, which he survived in 1963, but when he died in 1993 he still had various pieces of bullet fragment in his leg. He also sustained injury to his right wrist. Although the Warren Commission suggested it was due to the same bullet, the medical reports suggested that the entry may have been in the upper side of his arm, exiting from the lower (palm) side of his wrist. It would not be possible for the injuries to have been caused by the same bullet. Is it therefore possible that the wrist injury was caused by a separate shot? Perhaps one fired from behind that missed the President, striking Connally’s arm just as he slumped into his seat?
Speculation on the Shooting
If one accepts the concept of conspiracy, which I find inescapable, then one must give thought to how it would have been organised. Would it have been one man in the Book Depository (Oswald or whomever), plus one man on the Grassy Knoll? Would that have been enough? Would that be a "classic" ambush? Why choose Dealey Plaza and to what extent was Oswald set up specifically for this or just an opportune bonus to the conspirators?
The existence of conspiracy tends to suggest the involvement of professionals. If one has a need to kill the President of the United States and expect to get away with it, one must plan every detail. The traditional approach would be a triangulated ambush. This is what I believed happened.
Shooters were placed on the lower steps of the Dal Tex building directly behind the car as it proceeded down Elm Street, on the Sixth Floor of the Book Depository and on the Grassy Knoll. The shooter on the Sixth Floor was there to be a decoy and to tie the shooting in to Oswald. The shooter on the Grassy Knoll was back-up in case the main man in the Dal Tex building failed to make the kill.
Hitting the President in the head was essential as it was the only way to be certain he was dead. Shots were fired simultaneously from the Dal Tex building and the Sixth Floor, and they both failed to hit the President in the head. I believe each fired up to three times, the shots from the Dal Tex building causing the back/neck injury, the damage to the windshield frame and the crack in the bullet-proof glass of the windshield. The shots from the Sixth Floor hit the grass on the south side of Elm Street, hit Governor Connally in the back and struck the pavement near to witness James Tague.
By the time the shooter on the Grassy Knoll had a line of fire, the President had still not been hit with the requisite head shot. He had not wanted or expected to fire, but by this time had no choice. He did not miss his target.
The intention was that the shooter from the Dal Tex building would see the President off, that probably only one shot would be needed, and it would be easy to make that appear to come from the Sixth Floor. The shot was long, and he possibly had to make it later than he had hoped for, perhaps because of line of sight, and this made it that much harder. The first shot was just low, striking the target in the back, but by now the car was moving away and subsequent shots were harder.
The backup on the grassy Knoll was much harder to conceal, but he could not fail, so by then all guards were down. The shot was easier as the car was closer and moving towards the shooter, and with fewer obstructions. However, he was surrounded by witnesses and the gun, which was not silenced, was so obvious to all. It was always intended that he would not have to use it.
Despite all the detailed speculations on the killing, I feel the simplest is the most probable. It was a standard ambush. The shooter on the steps or in the low window of the Dal Tex building was expected to do the job. One shot, coordinated through radio with the shooter in the Book Depository and no further questions asked. Everything else was back up; the shooter on the Grassy Knoll, the extra shots fired from the Book Depository, the bullet placed on the gurney at Parkland Hospital by Jack Ruby, all in the hope that some sort of credible story could be tied into the idea of three shots fired from the Book Depository by Lee Harvey Oswald with this inferior Italian carbine. Evidence such as the car was quickly taken away and destroyed, Lee Harvey Oswald himself was readily despatched before he could confuse matters further and the perpetrators themselves flown out of the country, probably within the hour, and probably by David Ferrie.
Frankly, it was a miracle the Warren Commission could conjure up a story that even remotely fitted this confused pattern of events with their desired account.