Who Saw Lee Harvey Oswald in the TSBD Sixth-Floor Window?

Was Oswald the Gunman?

Find out more in 22 November 1963, the essential book on the JFK assassination, recently published as a paperback and ebook.

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22 November 1963: A Brief Guide to the JFK Assassination

The Warren Commission had great trouble finding convincing evidence that would place Lee Harvey Oswald on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository during the assassination of President Kennedy.

Although it is indisputable that gunshots were fired from the TSBD, none of the many photographs and home movies taken of the assassination show anyone in the southeastern sixth–floor window, where the empty bullet shells were found.

Evidence of a Gunman on the Sixth Floor

Official interviews and statements, quoted below, show that ten named witnesses outside in Dealey Plaza noticed suspicious activity on an upper floor of the TSBD from about 12:15 until the time of the shooting:

Some of this evidence suggests that Oswald was the man with the gun; some of it suggests otherwise.

The official evidence is not only ambiguous but also incomplete. The Warren Commission failed to follow up claims that other witnesses had seen activity in the TSBD (see e.g. Warren Commission Hearings, vol.15, pp.525f). Some of these witnesses have been interviewed by journalists and private researchers in the years since the assassination.

Descriptions that Match Oswald

Howard Brennan was one of the four witnesses in Dealey Plaza who noticed a gunman. In a statement on the day of the assassination, Brennan claimed that the gunman was “a white man in his early 30’s, slender, nice looking, slender and would weigh about 165 to 175 pounds. He had on light colored clothing”. In his Warren Commission testimony, Brennan gave the man’s height as five feet ten inches.

Lee Harvey Oswald was white, slender, and 24 years old. Official documents (e.g. his autopsy report: Warren Commission Hearings, vol.26, p.521 [Commission Exhibit 3002]) give his adult height as either five feet nine inches (175 cm) or five feet ten inches. On the day of his arrest, he weighed 131 pounds (9 stones, 5 pounds; 59 kg; Warren Commission Hearings, vol.17, p.285 [Commission Exhibit 630[).

Arnold Rowland and Ronald Fischer both described the man they saw as “slender”, and Fischer added that “he looked to be 22 or 24 years old”. All three descriptions could reasonably have applied to Oswald, but could also have applied to any number of young white men.

The Reliability of Howard Brennan

Howard Brennan was not, however, an especially reliable witness:

  • He claimed that the man was standing up when aiming the rifle, but the sash window made this impossible; it was open only up to about waist height.
  • He claimed that “I was looking at the man in this window at the time of the last explosion”, but later explicitly denied that he had seen the man fire the gun.
  • He claimed on the afternoon of the assassination that “I believe that I could identify this man if I ever saw him again”, but he was unable to pick out Oswald at an identification parade a few hours later, despite having seen Oswald’s photograph on television in the meantime.

Although the Warren Commission enthusiastically promoted Brennan as the star witness in its case against Oswald, the House Select Committee on Assassinations was more sceptical, and declined to use Brennan.

The Unknown Bystander

Part of Brennan’s description matched that given by an unidentified bystander to Inspector Herbert Sawyer less than fifteen minutes after the assassination: “slender white male about 30, 5 feet 10, 165” (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.6, pp.321–3). For the case that the bystander was not Brennan, see Bill Simpich, State Secret, chapter 6, esp. note 3.

The bystander’s description bore a remarkable similarity to a knowingly false description of Oswald which was held in the files of the CIA’s internal counter–intelligence department. For more about these descriptions in the context of Oswald’s impersonation in Mexico City a few weeks before the assassination, see “A Little Incident in Mexico City”.

The Gunman’s Hair

Two witnesses, Arnold Rowland and Amos Euins, gave descriptions that were more precise than Brennan’s, but which did not match Oswald’s appearance in crucial ways:

  • Rowland described the gunman as having “dark hair … it was dark, probably black. … It didn’t appear as if he had a receding hairline”.
  • Euins stated that “I seen a bald spot on this man’s head, trying to look out the window. He had a bald spot on his head. I was looking at the bald spot”.

Two other witnesses disagreed with Rowland about the colour of the man’s hair: Robert Edwards claimed that it was “light brown”, and Carolyn Walther remembered “blond or light brown hair”.

Oswald’s hair was light brown, and receding slightly, but he did not have a bald spot.

The Gunman’s Clothes

Five of the six witnesses who saw a man on the sixth floor of the TSBD were able to describe his clothing. All of them said that he was wearing light–coloured clothes:

  • Howard Brennan: “He had on light colored clothing”; “Light colored clothes, more of a khaki color”.
  • Arnold Rowland: “He had on a light shirt, a very light–colored shirt, white or a light blue or a color such as that. This was open at the collar. I think it was unbuttoned about halfway, and then he had a regular T–shirt, a polo shirt under this”.
  • Carolyn Walther: “a white shirt”.
  • Ronald Fischer: “light in color; probably white … it was open–neck and light in color”.
  • Robert Edwards: “light colored shirt, short sleeve and open neck”.

Oswald did not wear a light–coloured shirt with an open neck on the day of the assassination. At the time of his arrest, Oswald was wearing a brown shirt over a white T–shirt, and dark trousers (see e.g. Warren Commission Hearings, vol.21, p.467).

Oswald claimed that he had changed his shirt after returning to his lodgings about half an hour after the assassination, and that he had originally been wearing a “reddish colored, long sleeved, shirt with a button–down collar” (Warren Report, p.622; see also Handwritten notes of Captain J.W. Fritz’s interview of Oswald, p.7). This is consistent with the accounts of the two witnesses who described the shirt he was wearing while at the TSBD:

  • Linnie Mae Randle, who saw Oswald when he left for work that morning, stated that “I remember some sort of brown or tan shirt” (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.2, p.250).
  • Marrion Baker, the policeman who encountered Oswald on the second floor immediately after the shooting, said that Oswald was wearing “a brown–type shirt”, and that this shirt may have been “a little bit darker” than the one Baker saw Oswald wearing later that day (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.3, p.257).

Howard Brennan confirmed that Oswald’s clothes on the day of the assassination had not resembled those of the gunman in the window:

Mr Brennan :
And that was another thing that I called their [the police’s] attention to at the lineup.
Mr Belin :
What do you mean by that?
Mr Brennan :
That he [Oswald] was not dressed in the same clothes that I saw the man in the window.
Mr Belin :
You mean with reference to the trousers or the shirt?
Mr Brennan :
Well, not particularly either. In other words, he just didn’t have the same clothes on.
Mr Belin :
All right.
Mr Brennan :
I don’t know whether you have that in the record or not. I am sure you do.
Mr Dulles :
Any further questions? I guess there are no more questions, Mr Belin.
Mr Belin :
Well, sir, we want to thank you for your cooperation with the Commission.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.3, p.161)

With that, and before he could do any more damage, Howard Brennan was dismissed.

Lee Harvey Oswald on the Sixth Floor

The very latest sighting of Oswald on the sixth floor by a TSBD employee occurred more than half an hour before the assassination: Charles Givens testified that he saw Oswald there at 11:55 (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.6, p.352). Givens may, however, not be reliable; his testimony contradicts a statement he had made to the FBI on the day after the assassination (Commission Document 5, p.329), in which he states that his sighting of Oswald occurred on the first floor.

Several employees saw Oswald having lunch on a lower floor after Givens claimed to have seen him on the sixth floor (e.g. Oswald’s boss, William Shelley: Warren Commission Hearings, vol.6, p.328). One employee, Bonnie Ray Williams, spent about 10 minutes on the sixth floor from around 12:00, and claimed that he was the only person present on that floor (Warren Commission Hearings, vol.3, pp.169–170).

It is quite possible that Oswald had not set foot on the sixth floor for an hour or more before the assassination. Although he had visited the sixth floor that morning, he had been working on the fifth floor immediately before beginning his lunch break at about 11:45 (ibid., p.168).

For more about Charles Givens’s statements and Oswald’s whereabouts, see two works by Silvia Meagher:

Where Was Oswald?

Oswald’s actual location at the time of the shooting is uncertain. According to second–hand accounts, he appears to have claimed to have been on the first floor of the TSBD (Warren Report, p.600). No first–hand account exists; the Dallas police do not appear to have recorded, either on tape or on paper, the many hours of interrogation of the man charged with the President’s murder.

Oswald was seen by a TSBD employee, Carolyn Arnold, on either the first or second floor a few minutes before the shooting, at about the same time as Arnold Rowland saw a gunman on the sixth floor.

It was suggested early on that Oswald was visible in a photograph, standing on the front steps of the TSBD during the shooting, but this was almost certainly the result of a misidentification. The figure in the photograph is now generally agreed to be Billy Lovelady, another TSBD employee.

Was Lee Harvey Oswald the Gunman?

Although Oswald appears to have owned the rifle discovered on the sixth floor, the eye–witness evidence casts doubt on the notion that he was the man seen with the rifle during the assassination. This is consistent with the paraffin test on Oswald’s right cheek, which suggests very strongly that he had not fired a rifle that day.

Wherever he was, Oswald almost certainly was not guilty of killing President Kennedy.

A Man in a Window, Holding a Gun

Howard Brennan

Howard Brennan’s statement to the Dallas Sheriff’s office on the afternoon of the assassination, in which he describes the gunman:

I could see the large red brick building across the street from where I was sitting. I take this building across the street to be about 7 stories anyway in the east end of the building and the second row of windows from the top I saw a man in this window. I had seen him before the President’s car arrived. He was just sitting up there looking down apparantly [sic] waiting for the same thing I was to see the President. I did not notice anything unusual about this man. He was a white man in his early 30’s, slender, nice looking, slender and would weigh about 165 to 175 pounds. He had on light colored clothing but definately [sic] not a suit. I proceeded to watch the President’s car … I heard what I thought was a back fire … I looked up at the building. I then saw this man I have described in the window and he was taking aim with a high powered rifle. I could see all of the barrel of the gun. I do not know if it had a scope on it or not. I was looking at the man in this window at the time of the last explosion. Then this man let the gun down to his side and stepped down out of sight. He did not seem to be in any hurry. I could see this man from about his belt up. There was nothing unusual about him at all in appearance. I believe that I could identify this man if I ever saw him again.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.19, p.470)

His testimony before the Warren Commission:

Mr Belin :
Mr Brennan, could you please tell the Commission … what you saw?
Mr Brennan :
I observed quite a few people in different windows. In particular, I saw this one man on the sixth floor which left the window to my knowledge a couple of times.
Mr Belin :
Did you see any other people in any other windows that you can recollect?
Mr Brennan :
Not on that floor. There was no other person on that floor that ever came to the window that I noticed.
Mr Belin :
Now, after you saw the man — well, just tell what else you saw during that afternoon?
Mr Brennan :
Well, as the parade came by … I heard this crack that I positively thought was a backfire. … And I glanced up. And this man that I saw previous was aiming for his last shot. … Well, as it appeared to me he was standing up and resting against the left window sill, with gun shouldered to his right shoulder, holding the gun with his left hand and taking positive aim and fired his last shot. As I calculate a couple of seconds. He drew the gun back from the window as though he was drawing it back to his side and maybe paused for another second as though to assure hisself that he hit his mark, and then he disappeared.
Mr Belin :
At the time you saw this man on the sixth floor, how much of the man could you see?
Mr Brennan :
Well, I could see — at one time he came to the window and he sat sideways on the window sill. That was previous to President Kennedy getting there. And I could see practically his whole body, from his hips up. But at the time that he was firing the gun, a possibility from his belt up.
Mr Belin :
Could you describe the man you saw in the window on the sixth floor?
Mr Brennan :
To my description, a man in his early thirties, fair complexion, slender but neat, neat slender, possibly 5–foot 10.
Mr Belin :
About what weight?
Mr Brennan :
Oh, at — I calculated, I think from 160 to 170 pounds.
Mr Belin :
A white man?
Mr Brennan :
Yes.
Mr Belin :
Do you remember what kind of clothes he was wearing?
Mr Brennan :
Light colored clothes, more of a khaki color.
Mr Belin :
Do you remember the color of his hair?
Mr Brennan :
No.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.3, pp.143–5)

Mr Belin :
Do you remember the specific color of any shirt that the man with the rifle was wearing?
Mr Brennan :
No, other than light, and a khaki color — maybe in khaki. I mean other than light color — not a real white shirt, in other words. If it was a white shirt, it was on the dingy side.
Mr Belin :
I am handing you what the court reporter has marked as Commission Exhibit 150. Does this look like it might or might not be the shirt, or can you make at this time any positive identification of any kind?
Mr Brennan :
I would have expected it to be a little lighter — a shade or so lighter.
Mr Belin :
Than Exhibit 150?
Mr Brennan :
That is the best of my recollection.
Mr Belin :
All right. Could you see the man’s trousers at all? Do you remember any color?
Mr Brennan :
I remembered them at that time as being similar to the same color of the shirt or a little lighter. And that was another thing that I called their [the police’s] attention to at the lineup.

(ibid., p.161)

Arnold Rowland

Arnold Rowland spotted a man holding a gun several minutes earlier than the other witnesses. The gunman was in the southwest corner of the sixth floor, and another man was in the southeast corner window. Despite having seen a man with a gun in the building, Rowland claimed that shots came from the grassy knoll. He gave a statement to the Dallas Sheriff’s Department on the afternoon of the assassination:

I looked up at the Texas Book Depository building and noticed that the second floor from the top had two adjoining windows which were wide open, and upon looking I saw what I thought was a man standing back about 15 feet from the windows and was holding in his arms what appeard to be a hi powered rifle because it looked as though it had a scope on it. He appeared to be holding this at a parade rest sort of positioin. … This man appeared to be a white man and appeared to have a light colored shirt on, open at the neck. He appeared to be of slender build and appeared to have dark hair.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.16, p.953 [Commission Exhibit 357])

Arnold Rowland was interviewed by the FBI two days later:

Between 12:10 p.m. and 12:15 p.m., I looked toward the Texas School Book Depository which faces the South and is located on the corner of Elm and Houston. I observed the two rectangular windows at the extreme west end of the Texas School Book Depository next to the top floor were open. I saw what I believed to be a man standing about 12 to 15 feet back from the window on the right. He appeared to be slender in proportion to his height, was wearing a white or light colored shirt, either collarless or open at the neck. He appeared to have dark hair. He also appeared to holding [sic] a rifle with scope attached, in a ready position or in military terminology, port arms. I saw him only momentarily and he seemed to disapear [sic] in the shadows of the room.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.16, p.954 [Commission Exhibit 358])

Mr Rowland :
I noticed on the sixth floor of the building that there was a man back from the window, not hanging out the window. He was standing and holding a rifle. … This was on the west corner of the building.
Mr Specter :
How much, if any, or all of that rifle could you see?
Mr Rowland :
All of it.
Mr Specter :
Describe, as best you can, the appearance of the individual whom you saw?
Mr Rowland :
He was rather slender in proportion to his size. I couldn’t tell for sure whether he was tall and maybe, you know heavy, say 200 pounds, but tall whether he would be and slender or whether he was medium and slender, but in proportion to his size his build was slender.
Mr Specter :
Could you give us an estimate on his height?
Mr Rowland :
No; I couldn’t. …
Mr Specter :
Was he a white man or a Negro or what?
Mr Rowland :
Seemed, well, I can’t state definitely from my position because it was more or less not fully light or bright in the room. He appeared to be fair complexioned, not fair, but light complexioned, but dark hair.
Mr Specter :
What race was he then?
Mr Rowland :
I would say either a light Latin or a Caucasian.
Mr Specter :
And were you able to observe any characteristics of his hair?
Mr Rowland :
No; except that it was dark, probably black.
Mr Specter :
Were you able to observe whether he had a full head of hair or any characteristic as to quantity of hair?
Mr Rowland :
It didn’t appear as if he had a receding hairline but I know he didn’t have it hanging on his shoulders. Probably a close cut from — you know it appeared to me it was either well–combed or close cut.
Mr Specter :
What, if anything, did you observe as to the clothes he was wearing?
Mr Rowland :
He had on a light shirt, a very light–colored shirt, white or a light blue or a color such as that. This was open at the collar. I think it was unbuttoned about halfway, and then he had a regular T–shirt, a polo shirt under this, at least this is what it appeared to be. He had on dark slacks or blue jeans, I couldn’t tell from that. I didn’t see but a small portion.
Mr Specter :
You say you only saw a small portion of what?
Mr Rowland :
Of his pants from his waist down.
Mr Specter :
Were you able to form any opinion as to the age of that man?
Mr Rowland :
This is again just my estimation. He was — I think I remember telling my wife that he appeared in his early thirties. This could be obscured because of the distance, I mean.
Mr Specter :
Were you able to form any opinion as to the weight of the man in addition to the line of proportion which you have already described?
Mr Rowland :
I would say about 140 to 150 pounds.
Mr Specter :
When, after you first observed him did you have a conversation abut him with your wife?
Mr Rowland :
Right afterwards. There was — just before I observed him there was a police motorcycle parked just on the street … and the radio was on it giving the details of the motorcade, where it was positioned, and right after the time I noticed him … the dispatcher came on and gave the position of the motorcade as being on Cedar Springs. … And this was the position of the motorcade and it was about 15 or 16 after 12.
Mr Rowland :
Something I would like to note is that the window that I have been told the shots were actually fired from, I did not see that, there was someone hanging out that window at that time.
Rep Ford :
What time was that?
Mr Rowland :
At the time I saw the man in the other window, I saw this man hanging out the window first. It was a colored man, I think.
Rep Ford :
Is this the same window where you saw the man standing with the rifle?
Mr Rowland :
No; this was the one on the east end of the building, the one that they said the shots were fired from.
Rep Ford :
I am not clear on this now. The window that you saw the man that you describe was on what end of the building?
Mr Rowland :
The west, southwest corner.
Rep Ford :
And the man you saw hanging out from the window was at what corner?
Mr Rowland :
The east, southeast corner.
Rep Ford :
Southeast corner. On the same floor?
Mr Rowland :
On the same floor.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.2, pp.169–175)

Carolyn Walther

Carolyn Walther saw a gunman a few minutes after Arnold Rowland, and shortly before the motorcade reached Dealey Plaza. Like Rowland, she saw another man in addition to the man holding a gun. She was interviewed by the FBI on 4 December 1963, but was not called before the Warren Commission.

Shortly after the ambulance left, she looked back toward the TSBD Building and saw a man standing on either the fourth or fifth floor in the southeast corner window. … This man had the window open and was standing up leaning out the window with both his hands extended outside the window ledge. In his hands, this man was holding a rifle with the barrel pointed downward, and the man was looking south on Houston Street. The man was wearing a white shirt and had blond or light brown hair. … In the same window, to the left of this man, she could see a portion of another man standing by the side of this man with a rifle. This other man was standing erect, and his head was above the opened portion of the window. As the window was very dirty, she could not see the head of this second man. She is positive this window was not as high as the sixth floor. This second man was apparently wearing a brown suit coat, and the only thing she could see was the right side of the man, from about the waist to the shoulders.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.24, p.522 [Commission Exhibit 2086])

Amos Euins

Fifteen–year–old Amos Euins made a statement to the Dallas Sheriff’s Department on the afternoon of the assassination:

I watched the car on down the street and about the time this car got near the black and white sign I heard a shot. I started looking around and then I looked up in the red brick building. I saw a man in a window with a gun and I saw him shoot twice. He then stepped back behind some boxes. I could tell the gun was a rifle and it sounded like an automatic rifle the way he was shooting. I just saw a little bit of the barrel, and some of the trigger housing. This was a white man, he did not have on a hat. I just saw this man for a few seconds.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.16, p.963 [Commission Exhibit 367])

In his testimony before the Warren Commission, Euins expanded on his description of the gunman, and corrected a mistake in his original statement:

Mr Euins :
And then the President come around the corner right here. … And then I had seen a pipe, you know, up there in the window, I thought it was a pipe, some kind of pipe. … Then I was standing here, and as the motorcade turned the corner, I was facing, looking dead at the building. And so I seen this pipe thing sticking out the window. Then when the first shot was fired, I started looking around, thinking it was a backfire. Everybody else started looking around. Then I looked up at the window, and he shot again. … So after he shot again, he just started looking down this, you know.
Mr Specter :
Who started looking down that way?
Mr Euins :
The man in the window. I could see his hand, and I could see his other hand on the trigger, and one hand was on the barrel thing. … And then after he shot again, he pulled the gun back in the window.
Mr Specter :
Now, when the third shot occurred, Amos, let me ask you again, where were you looking then?
Mr Euins :
I was still down here, looking up at the building.
Mr Specter :
What did you see in the building?
Mr Euins :
I seen a bald spot on this man’s head, trying to look out the window. He had a bald spot on his head. I was looking at the bald spot. I could see his hand, you know the rifle laying across in his hand. And I could se his hand sticking on the trigger part. And after he got through, he just pulled it back in the window.
Mr Specter :
Now, what kind of a look, if any, did you have at the man who was there?
Mr Euins :
All I got to see was the man with a spot in his head, because he had his head something like this.
Mr Specter :
Indicating his face down, looking down the rifle?
Mr Euins :
Yes, sir: and I could see the spot on his head.
Mr Specter :
How would you describe that man for us?
Mr Euins :
I wouldn’t know how to describe him, because all I could see was the spot on his head and his hand.
Mr Specter :
Was he slender or was he fat?
Mr Euins :
I didn’t get to see him.
Mr Specter :
Could you tell from where you looked whether he was tall or short?
Mr Euins :
No.
Mr Specter :
Of what race was he, Amos?
Mr Euins :
I couldn’t tell, because these boxes were throwing a reflexion, shaded.
Mr Specter :
Could you tell whether he was a Negro gentleman or a white man?
Mr Euins :
No, sir.
Mr Specter :
Couldn’t even tell that? But you have described that he had a bald —
Mr Euins :
Spot in his head. Yes, sir: I could see the bald spot in his head.
Mr Specter :
Now, could you tell what color hair he had?
Mr Euins :
No, sir.
Mr Specter :
Could you tell whether his hair was dark or light?
Mr Euins :
No, sir.
Mr Specter :
Were you able to tell anything about the clothes he was wearing?
Mr Euins :
No, sir.
Mr Specter :
I now show you a paper, Amos, which I have marked as Commission Exhibit No. 367. … In the statement you say here that he was a white man. By reading the statement, does that refresh your memory as to whether he was a white man or not?
Mr Euins :
No, sir; I told the man that I could see a white spot on his head, but I didn’t actually say it was a white man. I said I couldn’t tell. But I saw a white spot in his head.
Mr Specter :
Your best recollection at this moment is you still don’t know whether he was a white man or a Negro? All you can say is that you saw a white spot on his head?
Mr Euins :
Yes, sir.
Mr Specter :
Then, did you tell the people at the police station that he was a white man, or did they make a mistake when they wrote that down here?
Mr Euins :
They must have made a mistake, because I told them I could see a white spot on his head.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.2, pp.204, 207–8)

A Man in a Window, but No Gun

Ronald Fischer

Ronald Fischer and Robert Edwards were standing on the west side of Houston Street, directly opposite the TSBD.

Mr Fischer :
About 10 or 15 seconds before the first car came around that corner, Bob punched me and said, “Look at that guy there in that window.” And he made some remark — said, “He looks like he’s uncomfortable” — or something. And I looked up and I watched the man for, oh, I’d say, 10 or 15 seconds. It was until the first car came around the corner of Houston and Main. And, then, when that car did come around the corner, I took my attention off of the man in the window and started watching the parade. The man held my attention for 10 or 15 seconds, because he appeared uncomfortable for one, and, secondly, he wasn’t watching — uh — he didn’t look like he was watching for the parade. He looked like he was looking down toward the Trinity River and the triple underpass down at the end — toward the end of Elm Street. And — uh — all the time I watched him, he never moved his head, he never — he never moved anything. Just was there transfixed.
Mr Belin :
In what window did you see the man?
Mr Fischer :
It was the corner window on Houston Street facing Elm, in the fifth or sixth floor.
Mr Belin :
Do you remember anything about the man? Could you describe his appearance at all? First of all, how much of him could you see?
Mr Fischer :
I could see from about the middle of his chest past the top of his head. … And he had — he had on an open–neck shirt, but it — uh — could have been a sport shirt or a T–shirt. It was light in color; probably white, I couldn’t tell whether it had long sleeves or whether it was a short–sleeved shirt, but it was open–neck and light in color. Uh — he had a slender face and neck — uh — and he had a light complexion — he was a white man. And he looked to be 22 or 24 years old.
Mr Belin :
Do you remember anything about the color of his hair?
Mr Fischer :
His hair seemed to be — uh — neither light nor dark; possibly a light — well, possibly a — well, it was a brown was what it was; but as to whether it was light or dark, I can’t say.
Mr Belin :
Did he have a thick head of hair or did he have a receding hairline — or couldn’t you tell?
Mr Fischer :
I couldn’t tell. He couldn’t have had very long hair, because his hair didn’t seem to take up much space — of what I could see of his head. His hair must have been short and not long.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.6, pp.193–4)

Robert Edwards

Mr Belin :
What did you see?
Mr Edwards :
Nothing of any importance except maybe one individual who was up there in the corner room of the sixth floor which was crowded in among boxes.
Mr Belin :
Could you describe this individual at all? Was he a white man or a Negro?
Mr Edwards :
White man.
Mr Belin :
Tall or short, if you know?
Mr Edwards :
I couldn’t say.
Mr Belin :
Did he have anything in his hand at all that you could see?
Mr Edwards :
No.
Mr Belin :
Could you see his hands?
Mr Edwards :
I don’t remember.
Mr Belin :
What kind of clothes did he have on?
Mr Edwards :
Light colored shirt, short sleeve and open neck.
Mr Belin :
How much of him could you see? Shoulder up, waist up, knees up, or what?
Mr Edwards :
From the waist on. From the abdomen or stomach up.
Mr Belin :
Was the man fat, thin, or average in size?
Mr Edwards :
Oh, about average. Possibly thin.
Mr Belin :
What color hair did the man have?
Mr Edwards :
Light brown.
Mr Belin :
Light brown hair?
Mr Edwards :
That is what I would say; yes, sir.
Mr Belin :
Did you see any other people on the sixth floor?
Mr Edwards :
No.
Mr Belin :
Do you know whether or not the hair of the man was short, average, or long on the man that you saw in the window that day?
Mr Edwards :
Don’t know.

(ibid., pp.203–4)

A Gun in a Window, but No Gunman

Mrs Earle Cabell

Mrs Earle Cabell, who used the first name of her husband, the former mayor of Dallas, was in the motorcade three or four cars behind President Kennedy’s car.

Mrs Cabell :
I saw a projection out of one of those windows. Those windows on the sixth floor are in groups of twos.
Mr Hubert :
In which window did you see the projection?
Mrs Cabell :
I have always been a little confused about that, but I think it was the first window.
Mr Hubert :
On what floor?
Mrs Cabell :
On the top floor. Now I cannot take oath and say which window. There was some confusion in my mind.
Mr Hubert :
What was this projection?
Mrs Cabell :
I cannot tell you. It was rather long looking, the projection.
Mr Hubert :
What did it seem like? An arm of an individual, or something mechanical?
Mrs Cabell :
I did not know, because I did not see a hand or a head or a human form behind it. It was in just a fleeting second that I jerked my head up and I saw something in that window.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.7, p.486)

Bob Jackson

Two news photographers in the motorcade, Bob Jackson and Malcolm Couch, saw a rifle barrel being withdrawn from a window on an upper floor of the TSBD. At the time of the shooting, their vehicle was on Houston Street, about halfway between Main Street and Elm Street, with the TSBD directly in front of them.

Jackson wrote about his experience in his newspaper, the Dallas Times Herald, the following day:

As I looked up to the window above, I saw a rifle being pulled back in the window. It might have been resting on the window sill. I didn’t see a man. I didn’t even see if it had a scope on it. … I looked to my left and I could see both cars speeding off, the President’s car and the car behind him.

(‘Lensman Heard Shots, Saw Gun’, Dallas Times Herald, 23 November 1963)

He later testified before the Warren Commission:

Then after the last shot, I guess all of us were just looking all around and I just looked straight up ahead of me which would have been looking at the Texas School Book Depository and I noticed two Negro men in a window straining to see directly above them, and my eyes followed right on up to the window above them and I saw the rifle or what looked like a rifle approximately half of the weapon, I guess I saw, and just as I looked at it, it was drawn fairly slowly back into the building, and I saw no one in the window with it. I didn’t even see a form in the window.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.2, p.159)

Malcolm Couch

And after the third shot, Bob Jackson, who was as I recall on my right, yelled something like, “Look up in the window! There’s a rifle!” And I remember glancing up to a window on the far right which at the time impressed me as the sixth or seventh floor, and seeing about a foot of rifle being — the barrel brought into the window. I saw no one in that window — just a quick 1–second glance at the barrel.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.6, pp.156–7,.)

Although Robert Jackson failed to take a photograph of the rifle in the window, he did take a famous photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Oswald two days later. For a full account of Robert Jackson, Malcolm Couch and other passengers in the press photographers’ car, see Richard Trask, Pictures of the Pain: Photography and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Yeoman Press, 1994, pp.417–441.

James Worrell

James Worrell, aged twenty, claimed to have been standing almost directly underneath the sixth–floor window. He also claimed to have seen President Kennedy get off Air Force One at Love Field airport in Dallas, to have made his way to downtown Dallas by bus, and to have arrived in Dealey Plaza before 11 o’clock. The plane did not land until around 11:30, which casts doubt on whether Worrell actually saw anything at all.

I heard loud noise like a fire cracker or gun shots. I looked around to see where the noise came from. I looked up and saw the barrel of a rifle sticking out of a window over my head about 5 or 6 stories up. While I was looking at the gun it was fired again. I looked back at Mr. Kennedy and he was slumping over. I got scared and ran from the location. While I was running I heard the gun fire two more times. … When I was about 100 yards from the building I stopped to get my breath and looked back at the building. I saw a w/m, 5′8″ to 5′10″, dark hair, average weight for height, dark shirt or jacket open down front, no hat, didn’t have anything in hands, come out of the building and run in the opposite direction from me.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.16, p.959 [Commission Exhibit 363])

Mr Worrell :
I looked up and saw the rifle, but I would say about 6 inches of it.
Mr Specter :
And where did you see the rifle?
Mr Worrell :
I am not going — I am not too sure but I told the FBI it was either in the fifth or the sixth floor on the far corner, on the east side.

(Warren Commission Hearings, vol.2, p.193)

Sen Cooper :
Did you see anyone in the windows, in the Texas School Book Depository?
Mr Worrell :
No, sir.

(ibid., p.200)

JFK Assassination FAQs

22 November 1963 : A Brief Guide to the JFK Assassination

22 November 1963: A Brief Guide to the JFK Assassination
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Find Out About

  • Lee Harvey Oswald — lone assassin, conspirator or patsy?
  • Oswald’s longstanding links to US intelligence agencies;
  • Oswald’s visit to Mexico City a few weeks before the assassination — and why this crucial event caused the Warren Commission to be set up;
  • the reasons why the assassination remains controversial;
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So Who Killed JFK?

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