I refer to the picture taken by Bob Jackson, photographer for the (now defunct) Dallas Times Herald, at the very instant when Jack Ruby, Dallas nightclub owner and police station hanger-on, lunged forward and shot Oswald in the abdomen.
Oswald was handcuffed to Dallas police detective James Leavelle as he was being transported through the police station basement on the way to the Dallas County courthouse. The suspect died a few hours later.
The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas hosted a panel discussion by five eyewitnesses to the Oswald shooting, and it has been replayed recently on the C-SPAN channels.
OTHER THAN Leavelle and Jackson, the eyewitnesses were Gary Delaune, police reporter for radio station KLIF; Fred Rheinstein, a producer/director for NBC News, who was in Dealey Plaza coordinating the network’s live coverage of the transfer of Oswald, and Bob Huffaker, then a radio/TV news reporter for CBS affiliate KRLD.
Huffaker recalled seeing President Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline in a top-down convertible limo passing his post on Houston St., on the way to the Trade Mart luncheon they never arrived at. He called them “absolutely gorgeous people.”
JACKSON’S photograph won a Pulitzer Prize as well as becoming one of the most reprinted photos in history.
James Leavelle seems to be one of those people who are destined to see history happen close up.
He survived the Dec. 7, 1941Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the U.S. into World War II as well as being linked to the fatal attack on Oswald.
In the rebroadcast of this year’s Nov. 10 panel from the Sixth Floor Museum I learned that Leavelle still gets hundreds of interview requests and questions about his involvement with Oswald.
He was one of the officers assigned to investigate the murder of police officer J.D. Tippit, whom Oswald had gunned down in Oak Clff during his escape from downtown Dallas.
Leavelle remembers that he, and a few other officers, worried about transferring Oswald to the Dallas County jail because of a rash of telephone threats against him. But Police Chief Jesse Curry wanted him moved publicly to prove to the pubic that Oswald was not being mistreated.
Leavelle was told to handcuff himself to Oswald.
AFTER Ruby’s astonishing single shot an ambulance rushed Oswald to Parkland Hospital, where President John F. Kennedy had died two days before.
Leavelle said he had the bullet removed and he scratched a mark on it after Oswald was pronounced dead, and asked a nurse to witness that this was the fatal shot. He said he knew it would be needed as evidence when Jack Ruby eventually went to trial.
Questioned as to why Ruby was motivated to shoot Oswald, Leavelle said Ruby “just wanted to be a hero” and considered he would be after he had gotten Jackie Kennedy revenge for her tragic loss.
There are many unusual museums, but the Sixth Floor Museum, located in what was once the Dallas School Book Depository building, must be unique in that it encompasses the corner window from which Oswald fired the assassination rifle.
As part of the “new world,” the U. S. makes more of 50-year anniversaries than do more ancient nations. So we can expect to hear more speculation and comment about the Kennedy Assassination and related events before the arrival of Nov. 22, 2013.
For a sample: The New York Times Book Review section of Nov. 18 leads with a lengthy review of The Patriarch: The Life and TImes of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. If you want to know about the patriarch’s nine children, who included President Kennedy and his brothers Robert and Ted, you can pick up this hefty tome for $40.