The Configuration of Shooters in Dealey Plaza
Copyright © 2011 by William Orchard
The Kennedy assassination planners placed a shooter with Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle at the southeast window of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBDE). This was the least desirable shooting location and he was their poorest shooter. Nevertheless, it was an honor for this man to be chosen, and the planners did not tell him that his poorly performing rifle was meant to be an insult to the FBI. They told him it was a symbol of Italian pride. The planners knew that his shot would not go where it was aimed and they did not care. If everything went as planned, there would be three audible shots and one silenced shot, and it would all be blamed on Oswald.
At the northwest window (TSBDW) was a shooter with a .30-30 rifle and ammunition made from bullets fired through Oswald’s rifle. A plastic collar called a sabot allowed the smaller (6.5 mm) bullets to be reloaded into .30-30 (7.62 mm) shell casings. A shooter at the north end of the fence on the grassy knoll (GKF) also had a .30-30 rifle with the special ammunition. A shooter on the second floor of the Dal-Tex Building (DTB) had the special ammunition and a silencer on his rifle. Each man was instructed to take one shot and leave.
The assassination planners knew that a sabot allows gas to escape around the bullet, which affects its velocity. Since the bullet does not grip the barrel of the rifle (thereby keeping the striations from the original rifle), it also tends to wobble and be inaccurate. Consequently, they placed a fifth shooter on the railroad overpass (RROP) with a .30-30 rifle and a fragmenting hunting round. This shooter’s accuracy was not affected, but his bullet could not be tied to Oswald’s rifle, and the planners hoped they would not have to use him.
Things did not go as planned. The four shooters at the east end of the plaza were told to aim at the President’s head and shoot in rotation. The TSBDE shooter’s sight on the President’s limousine started to be blocked by tree leaves and he fired early. His round turned out to be defective and sounded like a firecracker. The shot went high; hit the curb on the south side of Elm Street and no one was injured. The GKF, DTB and TSBDW shooters fired in the proper sequence but none of their shots hit the President’s head. The GKF shot hit the President’s throat and the TSBDW shot hit Governor Connally. A ricochet from the DTB shot hit James Tague, but no one knew that at the time. After this the assassination planners’ scenario went awry. The GKF shooter accidentally took a second shot, which hit the Stemmons Freeway sign. The DTB shooter also took a second shot, which hit the frame of the windshield. The TSBDE shooter decided to take a second shot and discovered how cranky his bolt action rifle was. He would not get his second shot off until it was all over.
Seeing that his colleagues had not killed the President, the RROP shooter took aim and finished the job. His shot came well after the others because he was told not to shoot unless he had to. Meanwhile, the TSBDE shooter managed to fire his second shot, which came .7 seconds after the head shot. This shot went high and struck the grass on the south side of Elm.
The plan was to have four shots but as it turned out there were eight. The shooters in the Texas School Book Depository left three shell casings, either by prearrangement or following a signal from a spotter. The government managed to convince us, not only that an inferior rifle did all of this, but that it happened with three shots. Researchers have labored against the Warren Commission or have tried to incorporate some of the Warren Commission findings. What actually happened had little resemblance to the Warren Commission or to the original plan of the assassination.