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Presidency
 

Barbara Junkkarinen on the Single Bullet Theory and the first shot

(Posted to alt.conspiracy.jfk 3 May 2001)

      The probability of the SBT depends on more than "a" bullet's ability to have inflicted so many wounds in two men and have emerged in such relatively good shape. There's a whole lot more involved in making that *theory* fly. Experimental support is a stretch, in my opinion. Not that "a" bullet couldn't accomplish the wounds, but because there is a convergence of other evidence that says JFK and JBC took separate bullets less than two seconds apart. Unfortunately, the WC had a timing problem as regards their lone gunman. As the Warren Report itself states (WR, pg 100, NYT edition):

   "Tests of the assassin's rifle disclosed that at least 2.3 seconds were required between shots. In evaluating the films IN LIGHT OF THESE TIMING GUIDES,......."[emphasis mine].

      The WC held two day-long conferences to examine the Z-film and other evidence in April of 1964. In addition to assorted FBI, SS, WC, and medical personnel, and the Connallys, these conferences held, "to determine which frames in the Zapruder film portray the instants at which the first and second bullets struck," included Dr. Light, Deputy Chief of the Biophysics Division at Edgewood Arsenal and Chief of the Wound Assessment Branch of the Biophysics Division, Dr. Olivier, Chief of the Wound Ballistics Branch of the Biophysics Branch at Edgewood Arsenal, and Dr. Dolce, Consultant to the Biophysics Division at Edgewood Arsenal.
      Their unanimous conclusion was that JFK took bullet number one, JBC took bullet two, and JFK took bullet three in the head. They concluded unanimously that JFK had *already* been hit when he re-emerged from behind the sign.
      Melvin Eisenberg reported their conclusions written "FOR THE RECORD" in three separate memos, one after each conference and one summary memo. It was stated that the conclusion they would be putting forth was as I described above: three bullets/three hits. As far as I know, they didn't yet know at that time about the time constraints. Their conclusion was objective and based solely on study of the films and slides. The best question here, perhaps, is what insights later led them to change that conclusion once they knew it did not fit with a lone LHO scenario? Could they suddenly see the films/slides better? Or did they even look at them again once the Dealey testing was done?
      I believe their initial assessment was correct. I see a convergence of observable motions, supported by testimonies and photographs of many witnesses, on that Z188-190 time frame.
      Let's start with the assertion that there was an early miss circa 160. JBC turns in the 160s...but not sharply. And he doesn't look at all distressed at that point, nor does he appear to be trying to twist farther back in an effort to see JFK. He appears to be looking at the same people who are clapping, then waving and reaching for JFK...and JFK is looking at them and smiling too. When he emerges from behind the Stemmons sign, JBC appears to be turning back toward his left from even farther to the right than he was when he disappeared behind the sign. It is possible that the turn to the right he was referring to all these years happened while the limo was *behind* the Stemmons sign. That would fit with the actions and testimonies of both him and others.
      Connally's casual turn to the right at 160, in keeping with what others in the motorcade and along the route were doing at that point as well, is not evidence of a shot in the 155­160 range, in my opinion. Rosemary Willis really does not bolster that contention either, as she is glancing to her right the whole time she is jogging along beside the limo. When asked years later, Rosemary said she stopped *when* she heard a shot. She did not say she stopped *because* she heard a shot. She was also running out of sidewalk and the limo was passing her by....and she planted her last foot for the last time at Z195.
      So, what supports a first shot/first hit of JFK circa 188­190? There are many, many things. Let's start with just two.
      First of all, let me say that Dr. Doug DeSalles spent a great deal of time a couple of years ago watching the Z-film on laser disc, compiling witness and photo data and confirming a convergence of evidence for a hit on JFK at about 190. I continue to urge him to publish his findings. He is exacting and did some fine work. Many of his findings confirmed or clarified things I had believed; in addition, he came up with much, much more. My personal take on a shot circa 188-190 is a conglomeration of findings pointed out by Doug, observations and evidentiary findings of my own, and evidence and other support pointed out by others.

      On to JFK and his actions.
      JFK is cruising along in the limo, smiling and waving at people on both sides of Elm St. In 188 he is smiling broadly to the people lined up on his right. (Some have noted a "cheek puff" at 188. On the Archive slides it is *clearly* a beaming smile.) Various photos show clearly that this line of people, just east of the Stemmons sign, are clearly waving and reaching out to JFK. The crowds are happy and smiling and waving until shortly after 190. Some never did get the drift and are still waving as late as the head shot, darn near. Others clearly change what they are doing in the 190s. So does JFK.
      About Z193 JFK shows signs of reacting. His arm and hand motion stops and freezes awkwardly. At 199, JFK's elbow bumps up almost imperceptibly off the side of the limo, then back down (it's more easily detectable on the slides at the Archives). Just before he disappears behind that blasted sign, his still-upraised right hand appears to come down quickly and his head jerks suddenly to his left. This happens circa 202-205. As he disappears behind the sign, it appears that his right hand comes down suddenly and his right arm begins to take on an abnormal posture. Unfortunately, much of this is more easily seen in frame-by-frame viewing of a clear version of the Z-film on laser disc, or in the first generation slides at the Archives, which include the image between the sprockets for a bigger picture of what was going on. Much can be seen on the Medio-CD ROM, however, in frame-by-frame viewing.

      What is Jackie doing in the meantime?
      Jackie is looking more or less straight ahead in the mid to late 180s, then she looks slightly to her right, but neither she nor anyone else looks alarmed......JFK is in mid-wave and smiling to those folks on the right, and JBC is doing the same. But by 200, Jackie has struck that distinctive looking-at-JFK pose with her head slightly cocked, and she maintains it until well after they emerge from behind the sign and for long thereafter. This is important.
      She said she turned her head in response to hearing "terrible noises" and that, at that time, her husband just had a "quizzical look" on his face, as if he "had a slight headache." That description hardly qualifies for what we see when he comes out from behind the sign, but does dovetail nicely with his hand freezing and head jerking to the left just as he goes behind the sign.
      Jackie has struck this pose and is maintaining it by 207, and we can see that she maintains it while they are behind the sign....follow her hat! The top of her hat can be seen nearly the entire time they are behind the sign; it goes out of view for just a couple of frames right before they emerge from behind the sign. We're all familiar with the concern and attention she is showing JFK *as they emerge* from behind the sign. If JFK had *just* been hit in that very frame, are we to believe that she too exhibited some lightning-fast reaction and struck that pose simultaneously with his being struck by a bullet? Of course not. Jackie did exactly what she said she did when JFK was first hit...and we see her doing it as they disappear behind the Stemmons sign.
      I'll throw in Hickey and the other Secret Service fellas in the follow up car at this point. They are completely visible in the sprocket image area of the slides until somewhere in the mid-190s. They are all looking straight ahead and are very relaxed. NO one is reacting to anything as late as 188­190. Hickey is looking to his left until 195, then he makes an abrupt turn to his right. Hickey testified that he turned to his right in response to the first shot.
      Let's deal with this, then move on to a couple of witnesses who also took pictures: Betzner and Willis.

      First a quick recap. So far we have:
      Connally...*not* seen turning and trying to look at JFK anytime between 160 and the late 190s. Just before he goes behind the sign, he is looking farther to his right than at any other time. When he comes out from behind the sign, he is in the process of turning back to face forward...and he gets hit.
      JFK.....smiling and waving until the early 190s, when his hand and arm freeze in mid-wave, his elbow take a quick bump up off the side of the limo and then back down, he jerks his head toward his left, and appears to be making an awkward movement with his right arm as he disappears behind the sign.
      Jackie....is seen looking to her left, then turning to her right and striking her looking-at-John pose, which she maintains from there on.
      SS car ..... no one is reacting to anything until 195, when Hickey, who had been looking to his left, commences a 12-frame turn to his right. He makes this turn in less than 3/4 of a second, and later testified that he had been looking left, then turned to his right when he heard the shot.

      On to Willis and Betzner......
      Phil Willis was standing on the south side of Elm Street directly across from the TSBD when he took a pic of the limo after it turned onto Elm Street and began passing in front of the TSBD. Everybody in the limo is smiling, waving, etc. Willis can be seen in the Z film taking this picture and then stepping back onto the curb. Less than three seconds later, Willis took his next picture. He recalls that he had his camera up and was ready to squeeze the shutter when he heard the first shot...and reflexively took his picture. That picture corresponds to Z202. Allowing for time to hear the sound and react to it, this pic is in keeping with a shot in the 190­195 range.
      Willis was a combat veteran who knew a shot when he heard it-and he says he heard the first shot *after* he had taken his photo of JFK turned slightly to his right as the limo was in front of the TSBD, smiling and waving. Then, Willis tells us, he snapped his next photo *in response* to hearing the first shot-he had his finger on the shutter and reflexively snapped it when he heard the first shot. That photo corresponds to Z202.
      That goes well with Betzner, who said that he heard a shot only *after* he had snapped his last photo. Betzner was also on the south side of Elm Street, standing about 15­20 feet east of Willis. Betzner wanted to get one more picture of the limo even though it had essentially passed him. SSA Hickey can be seen clearly looking to his left in the follow-up car. The line of people on the other side of the street are waving and reaching out toward the limo. Betzner took his picture and then started to wind his camera, when he heard the first shot. He took his pic, *then* heard the first shot. His photo was taken at Z186.
      So, Willis and Betzner bracket the first shot *after* 186 but at or *before* 195. Coincidentally (we love coincidences in this arena, now don't we? <g>), Zapruder had his first major tracking error, commencing at Z193. Zapruder heard only two shots. Zapruder had only two *major* tracking errors. One was at the head shot. The other commenced at 193.

      I might as well put Bronson in here, too.
      Bronson was waiting for the limo to come into full view before he took a picture....the limo was obscured behind a concrete structure from his vantage point. Bronson was on the south side of Elm Street...up the grass a ways. Bronson told Trask in 1995:" I was waiting till the limousine got into full view at about right angles, but the shot rang out just before. I wasn't quite ready, but I had my finger on, and I had enough pressure on it so when the shot rang out....I instinctively jumped and snapped it at the same time, and that's the reason you will notice that the picture is a little blurred."
      His slide coincides with 225.......he wouldn't have had time to hear and react to a shot at 224, and it was long past the length of time for any sort of startle response in reaction to a shot in the 160s.
      Doug DeSalles calculated that the limo would have first been in Bronson's full view at Z219....Bronson was waiting for that moment, heard a shot, jumped and then within a moment tripped his shutter. He reacted to a sound before 224, to one well after 160 (obviously) and within frames of Willis. I believe they were reacting to the same sound.

      In his testimony, Phil Willis said:

      Mr. WILLIS. No, sir; except this one thing might be worthy of mention. When I took slide No. 4, the President was smiling and waving and looking straight ahead, and Mrs. Kennedy was likewise smiling and facing more to my side of the street. When the first shot was fired, her head seemed to just snap in that direction, and he more or less faced the other side of the street and leaned forward, which caused me to wonder, although I could not see anything positively. It did cause me to wonder.

    (Note, the slide No. 4 he is referring to is the pic he took just three seconds before the one he snapped reflexively at 202).

      Worthy of mention, indeed! JFK tossed a wave to the folks on his right between 172 and 192. These folks are visible waving at JFK in Betzner's 186 photo-and JFK is smiling and waving at them. And, he is correct about Jackie as well-she is looking a tad to her left in this interval. Several witnesses reported that in response to the first shot, JFK's head turned to his left, and Jackie immediately turned to her right and looked at JFK. We see this happening as the limo disappears behind the Stemmons sign. And that is the responsive pose Jackie maintains from then on....watch her hat while they are behind the sign.
      I believe the observations, statements and photos of Willis, Betzner and Bronson bracket the timing of the first shot down to the circa-190 timeframe and corroborate what we see Jackie and JFK and Hickey doing in the relevant frames following 190 as well.

      Recapping once again, so far we have:
      Connally...*not* seen turning and trying to look at JFK any time between 160 and the late 190s. Just before he goes behind the sign, he is looking farther to his right than at any other time. When he comes from behind the sign, he is in the process of turning back around to face forward...and he gets hit.
      JFK.....smiling and waving until the early 190s, when his hand and arm freeze in mid-wave, his elbow take a quick bump up off the side of the limo and then back down, he jerks his head to his left, and appears to be making an awkward movement with his right arm as he disappears behind the sign.
      Jackie....is seen looking to her left, then turning to her right and striking her looking-at-John pose, which she maintains from there on.
      SS car ..... no one is reacting to anything until 195, when Hickey, who had been looking to his left, commences a 12-frame turn to his right. He makes this turn in less than 3/4 of a second, and later testified that he had been looking left, and then turned to his right when he heard the shot.
      Phil Willis snapped a photo reflexively upon hearing the first shot. That photo corresponds to Z202.
      Hugh Betzner snapped a picture just before he heard the first shot. His photo corresponds to Z186.
      Charles Bronson snapped his pic a moment after hearing the first shot. His slide corresponds to about 225. While Bronson does not help pin down the first shot to the circa-190 time frame, he does place the shot well after 160 and before 224.
      Zapruder had his first major tracking error at Z193-200.

      On to witnesses support.
      Several witnesses support the first shot/first hit circa 190 thesis by placing the limo at the time they heard the first shot and/or by observing reactions in the limo at the time of that shot. Doug DeSalles did a great job of researching the statements of several of these folks and seeing how they all converge one one thingand one time. Let's see how well these eyewitnesses support the info already presented. For now, I'll just mention some of the eyewitnesses who help pinpoint the location of the limo at the time of the first shot.
      After saluting a man on the south side of Elm Street (circa 140), JFK has turned toward his right at 186 and is waving and smiling (big smile at the folks on his right at Z188) until 193, when his arm and hand freeze in position.
      John Chism was standing on the north side of Elm Street, just about in front of the Stemmons sign....toward the east end of it. He stated: ".....just as he got just about in front of me, he turned to wave at the crowd on this side of the street....at this point I heard what sounded like one shot."
      Mrs. Chism, standing next to her husband, said she heard the first shot as the President was "coming through".
      Karen Hicks was standing just about right in front of the Chisms. She said the car was directly in front of where she was standing when the first shot rang out.
      Standing right next to the Chisms was Karen Westbrook. She said that, "The car he was in was almost directly in front of where I was standing when I heard the first explosion".
      Gloria Calverly was also standing along this stretch of Elm Street...just a few feet east of the Chisms and the rest of the gang I just mentioned. She stated that, "The car...was almost directly in front of where I was standing when I heard the first shot".
      Bonnie Ray Williams corroborates Chism in noting a hand motion followed by a shot. Williams, who had seen JFK brush his hair back as the limo was at the intersection of Main and Houston, told the WC: "...it seemed to me he had a habit of pushing his hair back. I assumed he was pushing his hair back....And then the thing happened then was a loud shot." From Williams' vantage point, JFK's wave to the folks on his right circa 186 could have looked like he was brushing his hair back. What Williams notes is a hand motion followed by the first shot. The only hand motion JFK makes to folks on his right is that wave.
      With the exception of Bonnie Ray Williams, all these witnesses had a front-row view of the motorcade. We know where they were standing....and they tell us where the limo was when that first shot rang out: practically right in front of them. And where were they? Practically in front of the Stemmons sign. Independently, they converge on a first shot occurring just as the limo was reaching the Stemmons sign.
      Fancy that. :-)

      Support for Jackie's actions. As noted above, Jackie's hat is visible to us for all but a couple of the frames when the car is behind the sign. In the frames just before they disappear behind the sign (200­207), Jackie assumes that looking-at-John pose and maintains it from there on (watch her hat). She herself said that she turned to look at JFK when she heard a terrible noise...and commented that at that time he looked like he had a "slight headache". There is support for Jackie having turned to look at JFK in response to the first shot.
      Kenneth O'Donnell said this in his WC testimony:[WCH7:448]...

      LIEBELER: What reaction did you observe, if any, as to Mrs. Kennedy during the shots?
      O'DONNELL: Well, he slumped on her, She appeared to be immediately aware that something had happened. She turned toward him. And then the third shot hit. Obviously, she then knew what happened.......

 

      Phil Willis had this to say in his WC testimony. [WCH7:492-497]

      Mr. LIEBELER. Did you think that the President had been hit by the first shot?
      Mr. WILLIS. I didn't really know, sir.
      Mr. LIEBELER. You couldn't tell whether he was hit by the first shot? You couldn't tell whether he had been hit by the first shot or the second shot or the third shot, or by how many shots he had been hit?
      Mr. WILLIS. No, sir; except this one thing might be worthy of mention. When I took slide No. 4, the President was smiling and waving and looking straight ahead, and Mrs. Kennedy was likewisesmiling and facing more to my side of the street. When the first shot was fired, her head seemed to just snap in that direction, and he more or less faced the other side of the street and leaned forward, which caused me to wonder, although I could not see anything positively. It did cause me to wonder.
      Mr. LIEBELER. You say that the President looked toward his left; is that correct? Toward the side of Elm Street that you are standing on, or which way?
      Mr. WILLIS. In slide No. 4 he was looking pretty much toward--straight ahead, and she was looking more to the left, which would be my side of the street. Then when the first shot was fired, she turned to the right toward him and he more or less slumped forward, and it caused me to wonder if he were hit, although I couldn't say.
      (Discussion off the record.)

      Remember, Willis took his picture that corresponds to Z202 in response to hearing the first shot...he clicked the camera from being startled by the sound of that shot, according to Willis himself. And, as we can see from his testimony, he noted Jackie turning to look at JFK at that time.
      She strikes her looking-at-John pose completely in the frames between 200 and 207.
      HSCA photographic expert Sherman Bennett wrote this about his observations of reactions seen in the Z-film:

      "From about frame 200, until all of the principal figures are hidden, Kennedy appears to be stiff or completely unmoving; Connally likewise appears stiff, and Mrs Kennedy begins to turn her head to her right rather quickly, completing a 90-degree turn within 4 or 5 frames. This is much more rapid than any turning of her head within the previous 20 or 30 frames. A head turn of approximately 90 degrees in 5/18th of a second, which is the period during which Mrs. Kennedy's head moves, is an unusually rapid rotation and not in keeping with casual looking at the crowds."

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