The recordings begin with Air Force One’s approach to Love Field and the police chief’s routine check on crowd control. They become chilling as a patrolman reports, ”I believe the president’s head was practically blown off.”
The drama heightens when the dispatcher alerts all squads: “The suspect from Elm and Houston is reported to be an unknown white male about 30, slender build, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 165 lbs., armed with what is thought to be a 30-30 rifle. No further description at this time or information.”
When Officer J.D. Tippit noticed a suspicious man, Lee Harvey Oswald killed him. ”It was — it was a horrible act,” says Sabato, author of The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy. ”And certainly not the act of an innocent person.”
Then police get a tip.
Dispatcher: “I have information that a suspect just went in the Texas Theater on West Jefferson.”
Dispatcher: “He’s supposed to be hiding in the balcony.”
Sergeant: “The suspect has been apprehended at Texas Theater and en route to station.”
Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, debunks five myths about JFK here.
Photo: H. Warner King, a Dallas jewelry wholesaler, was snapping pictures of President Kennedy’s motorcade in Dealey Plaza minutes before shots rang out. The photos, in storage for decades, appear in Time magazine along with his daughter’s reminisces. Photo courtesy of H. Warner King estate and Time.