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South Knoll; Ballistics, Shot Trajectories


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#1 Al Carrier

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 06:46 AM

I have been seriously researching the JFK Assassination for some fourteen years. What I bring into it is a background in weaponry, ballistics, crime scene investigative techniques and an understanding for sniper deployment and procedures. I have never accepted the official version of a lone sniper achieving the feat from a location 60’ above in the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Then add to this official account, the capabilities of the weapon and shooter that was accepted by the Warren Commission and later the HSCA, it was ridiculous.

Wound ballistics became an immediate issue when I began researching the Kennedy assassination in order to determine a shot origin. While there is overwhelming evidence in my opinion of a shooter on the north knoll at the time of the assassination, I had issues with this angle of trajectory creating the head wound suffered by President Kennedy. The discovery of Badgeman by Jack White and Gary Mack in the Mooreman Photograph, witnesses who reported hearing shot(s) on the north knoll, Gordon Arnold’s reporting of a shooter there, as well as other sightings of shooters and smoke from that origin, leaves no doubt in my mind that shot(s) were fired from this location. That does not necessarily mean that the head wound was inflicted by this shot origin and in my opinion from my background in weaponry and wound ballistics, I believe that it was not.

There are issues to consider when determining a point of entrance. The greater fracturing of the skull will occur forward of the point of impact as the energy from the penetrating projectile will radiate forward along the trajectory path of the initial penetration point. As seen in the Zapruder film and after the lightening of the top of the head autopsy photos, a large defect was also found high on the head, right of midline and a flap of scalp and partial skull bone was attached to the flap. This is created when the penetration trajectory is shallow below the skull, creating the energy dispersion to push out against the fractured bone.

By noting where the skull fracture and flap begins, it is logical that the point of entry is close to that location. By following the trajectory back to the massive wound in the right portion of the occipital parietal, which was clearly seen at Parkland Hospital by medical personnel, it shows a true line of trajectory and shot origin.

The challenge to this line of trajectory in support of shot origin of the north knoll comes from many researchers and is supported by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dr. Wecht believes that a shot fired from the north knoll, striking the right temporal/parietal region of the president’s skull would DEFLECT and turn outward (left), maintaining a wound cavity to the right portion of the skull.

The problem with this is that penetration from a rifle caliber projectile that is traveling in excess of 1800fps and most likely above 2400fps, would not deviate outward, but actually slightly inward through skull penetration. The ratio of diameter v. length of the projectile penetrating through a multi-layed resistant surface, such as skull plating, would actually create a rollover effect through surface penetration. This would cause the projectile to turn slightly inward instead of deflecting upon penetration. This has been proven in wound ballistic testing through the work of Dr. Martin Fackler over the past twenty years and accepted by the NIJ in studies of wound ballistics in order to determine effectiveness in ballistic resistant materials in ballistic vests.

The problem this shot trajectory creates is that it shows a shot origin that is in conflict with the witnesses who made a determination on shot origin by what they heard. This shot trajectory would place a shot origin in the region of the south end of the overpass over some sixty feet to the south knoll parking lot. No witnesses reported hearing a shot from this location, other than one who has came forward as being part of an abort team. This witness I will address later.

With 200 plus witnesses in DP at the time of the assassination and none focusing on shots from this location, most researchers write off the likelihood of a south plaza shooter. They also have concerns with this exposed location. This can easily be explained by a common practice by military sniper teams in both urban and rural environments.

Often, the most ideal location for shot origin, especially on a moving target, is a location that exposes the shooter the greatest. Making the shot is only half the objective, the other is escaping either undetected or without being molested. The military found a practice to overcome this obstacle and it has been termed “Canyon Shoot”. This practice utilizes multiple snipers from locations suited to draw attention to those origins where they cannot be accessed, or by allowing the terrain to confuse the shot origin to the enemy present. The term “Canyon Shoot” was unofficially adopted when Sgt. Alvin York utilized various shot origins and the echo effects of the terrain to fool the enemy into believing they were surrounded, when in fact it was only he who was shooting.

In the case of Dealey Plaza, a shooter firing from the Texas School Book Depository would initially fire and the other shooters in the plaza would cue off the Depository shooter by startle reaction and fire a round immediately on top of the shot fired by the Depository shooter. Witnesses would detect the first sound and roughly identify a shot origin and this would cover the fire of the others shooters, deeper in the plaza. The echo effect of the Plaza would also aid in making the witnesses believe that it was shot reverberation that they were hearing deeper in the plaza. With another shooter firing from the North Knoll, this would direct witnesses along Elm and at the intersection of Elm and Houston to focus their attention on the area between the Depository and the Knoll. By utilizing startle reaction to cue simultaneous fire from three locations, three shots could easily sound like one.

The closest known witnesses to the South End Overpass/South Knoll position were James Tague who was positioned on Commerce under the overpass, two Dallas Police Officers and nine railroad employees atop the underpass over Elm, and Tosh Plumlee and an associate who were on the bank of the South Knoll. Tague did not hear a shot originate from overhead or to his left and rear, but his perception could easily have been hampered by the extreme echo effects of all shots reverberating under the underpass. The persons atop the underpass did not detect the shot fired to their left, but their attention was on the approaching motorcade and their attention was drawn to the shots fired from the north knoll, which was in the direct of the approaching motorcade and of nearly equal distance in comparison to the south origin. Plumlee and his associate, who he has reported as being sent to Dallas as part of an assassinations abort team, clearly heard a shot fired from behind them, that would put it in line with the shot origin I have been describing. Plumlee was also ex-military and was their to stop an assassination attempt, so he would be prepared for the sounds he was about to hear. He apparently also recognized the ideal location of the south knoll region as that is where he chose to station himself.

The most recent challenge to the South End of the Overpass/South Knoll shot origin comes from Sixth Floor Museum Curator Gary Mack. Mack has come forward with new reporter Bob Jett, who has claimed to have been in the South Knoll Parking Lot eating his lunch at the time of the assassination. Jett has stated that he saw no assassin and heard no shots fired from that origin. Jett was working at the time of the assassination. My question as to his credibility and presence is why did he not immediately report on air, witnessing the assassination? Why was he not called upon by the Warren Commission to testify as to what he saw and did not see? The Warren Commission directed questions at most witnesses as to whether they heard or saw anything suspicious in this region. Wouldn’t Jett have been the nail in the coffin they needed to disprove a shooter there?

Another established researcher who supports my belief of shot origin from the south end of overpass/south knoll region, is nationally recognized Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Expert and Instructor, Sherry Gutierrez. Sherry has presented at JFK Lancer November in Dallas Seminars in 2001 and 2003. In 2003, she partly focused on this shot origin. She has also produced threads on the Lancer Forum regarding this.

Beyond the headshot wound issue, I have also aligned this shot origin with the neck wound and have established it by showing Elm at a higher elevation at this point and how the shot would have to penetrate the windshield through its trajectory. This also explains the compromised velocity that would result in a shallower wound path. I have been challenged on this through photos including Altgens 6 and 7 and have provided arguments on both. Because this is already a rather complex subject, I will not go into detail on the throat wound.

Al Carrier

#2 Nic Martin

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 04:18 PM

Wonderful points, I wonder what all it would take to get an experiment running to test the echo effect. This was really well-written, and I'm sure it'd be an eye opener for anyone who didn't previously consider the south Knoll. Congrats!

#3 John Simkin

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 04:49 PM

Great posting Al. I hope this is the beginning of a long thread:

In Harold Weisberg’s book Whitewash he states:

When the motorcade turned toward the Depository Building on Houston Street, for several hundred feet there was a completely unobstructed view of it from the sixth-floor window. The police photographs and the forgotten Secret Service reconstruction of 1963 also show this. There was not a twig between the window and the President. There were no curves in that street, no tricky shooting angles. If all the shots came from this window, and the assassin was as cool and collected as the Report represents, why did he not shoot at the easiest and by far the best target? Why did he wait until his target was so difficult that the country's best shots could not duplicate his feat?

Do you share Weisberg’s view that the fact that the firing did not start until the motorcade reached Elm Street, suggests that there must have been more than one gunman?

To help this discussion I have added a drawing of scene of the assassination.

#4 William Plumlee

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 07:47 PM

Wonderful points, I wonder what all it would take to get an experiment running to test the echo effect. This was really well-written, and I'm sure it'd be an eye opener for anyone who didn't previously consider the south Knoll. Congrats!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


A few years ago, a friend and I set of a fircracker on the southside of the tripple underpass.., about where we thought a shooter would have shot from. We watched the people who were standing around the kill zone and on the north knoll... They ALL first looked toward the north side of the underpass and some started walking that way. I found that interesting and then Dallas's fineist came and politely ask us to leave.

#5 Ron Ecker

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 08:09 PM

Do you share Weisberg’s view that the fact that the firing did not start until the motorcade reached Elm Street, suggests that there must have been more than one gunman?


Yes, the plan required the TSBD shooter to wait in order to have triangulation of gunfire.

I imagine a lone nutter would say that Oswald waited because taking an easy frontal shot on Houston would lessen his chance of making a getaway. The source of the shot would be more obvious, and the Secret Service was directly facing the building.

Here is J. Edgar Hoover's lying explanation to the Warren Commission:

"Now, some people have raised the question: Why didn't he shoot the President as the car came toward the storehouse where he was working? The reason for that is, I think, the fact there were some trees between his window on the sixth floor and the cars as they turned and went through the park. So he waited until the car got out from under the trees, and the limbs, and then he had a perfectly clear view of the occupants of the car, and I think he took aim, either on the President or Connally, and I personally believe it was the President in view of the twisted mentality the man had."

Hoover was a fine one to talk about twisted mentality.

Ron

#6 Shanet Clark

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 08:32 PM

Very interesting and often overlooked problem with the Oswald/Lone Gunman theory. He was facing the President from the sixth floor when the 1963 Secret Service presidential limosine rounded the corner. Hoover's explanation is very weak. The delay and longer shot range from rear was part of a triangulated ambush out in the open with shooters on the Knoll (n/s) using the overpass RR tracks for escape routes, and rear shooters (Brading? Rooftop man?)
This postioning of JFK for the kill probably has to do with Point of View of Zapruder as well and expected echo distortion.
Oswald is so utterly discredited as sole assailant, this is just another coffin nail.
Thanks, Al, you add a lot to our group, excellent posting....
Shanet

Edited by Shanet Clark, 26 November 2004 - 08:34 PM.


#7 Guest_Tim Carroll_*

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 06:05 AM

While there is overwhelming evidence in my opinion of a shooter on the north knoll at the time of the assassination, I had issues with this angle of trajectory creating the head wound suffered by President Kennedy.... The challenge to this line of trajectory in support of shot origin of the north knoll comes from many researchers and is supported by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dr. Wecht believes that a shot fired from the north knoll, striking the right temporal/parietal region of the president’s skull would DEFLECT and turn outward (left), maintaining a wound cavity to the right portion of the skull....  Often, the most ideal location for shot origin, especially on a moving target, is a location that exposes the shooter the greatest.
Al Carrier

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Unfortunately, the South Knoll view that was described by Tosh is blocked by an overgrown tree. Here are photos I took last week of the South Knoll trajectory:

[attachment=900:attachment]

[attachment=902:attachment]

Tim

#8 Al Carrier

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 07:53 AM

Do you share Weisberg’s view that the fact that the firing did not start until the motorcade reached Elm Street, suggests that there must have been more than one gunman?


Yes, the plan required the TSBD shooter to wait in order to have triangulation of gunfire.

I imagine a lone nutter would say that Oswald waited because taking an easy frontal shot on Houston would lessen his chance of making a getaway. The source of the shot would be more obvious, and the Secret Service was directly facing the building.

Here is J. Edgar Hoover's lying explanation to the Warren Commission:

"Now, some people have raised the question: Why didn't he shoot the President as the car came toward the storehouse where he was working? The reason for that is, I think, the fact there were some trees between his window on the sixth floor and the cars as they turned and went through the park. So he waited until the car got out from under the trees, and the limbs, and then he had a perfectly clear view of the occupants of the car, and I think he took aim, either on the President or Connally, and I personally believe it was the President in view of the twisted mentality the man had."

Hoover was a fine one to talk about twisted mentality.

Ron

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


John,

I agree with Ron and the late Harold Weisberg. There is no other explanation for it. Ron referred to a LNer stance that has also been taken by some CPers, that by firing at the President on Houston would have gave away the TSBD Shooter's position. While it is true that the Agents in the motorcade were facing the Depository at the time the limo was travelling down Houston, the reverberration amongst the three buildings at the intersection of Elm and Houston would have created greater confusion than shots being fired as the Limo proceeded down Elm. Due to the sixty foot elevation of the sixth floor and the elevation angle to target on Houston, the shooter could have sat back inside the window and engaged the target without windshield obstruction. Even if the Agents and LE were looking at the TSBD, the shooter could have fired without detection, other than a possible muzzle flash, that would not have stood out with the witnesses outside in the sunlight as they were.

I am always happy to see a quote from Harold Weisberg. I always admired him for his work and sacrifices and was fortunate enough to converse with him while he was still with us. I received a letter from him a year and a half before he died and will always keep it preserved as a reminder to the sacrifices that have been made in this research field.

Al

#9 Al Carrier

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 07:56 AM

While there is overwhelming evidence in my opinion of a shooter on the north knoll at the time of the assassination, I had issues with this angle of trajectory creating the head wound suffered by President Kennedy.... The challenge to this line of trajectory in support of shot origin of the north knoll comes from many researchers and is supported by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dr. Wecht believes that a shot fired from the north knoll, striking the right temporal/parietal region of the president’s skull would DEFLECT and turn outward (left), maintaining a wound cavity to the right portion of the skull....  Often, the most ideal location for shot origin, especially on a moving target, is a location that exposes the shooter the greatest.
Al Carrier

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Unfortunately, the South Knoll view that was described by Tosh is blocked by an overgrown tree. Here are photos I took last week of the South Knoll trajectory:

[attachment=900:attachment]

[attachment=902:attachment]

Tim

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Tim,

Here is one I took in 2001.

Al

#10 Guest_Tim Carroll_*

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 05:08 PM

While there is overwhelming evidence in my opinion of a shooter on the north knoll at the time of the assassination, I had issues with this angle of trajectory creating the head wound suffered by President Kennedy.... Often, the most ideal location for shot origin, especially on a moving target, is a location that exposes the shooter the greatest.
Al Carrier

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Unfortunately, the South Knoll view that was described by Tosh is blocked by an overgrown tree. Here are a couple of photos I took last week of the possible South Knoll trajectories, but admittedly one is taken from too far left and one from too far right:

[attachment=900:attachment]

[attachment=902:attachment]

Tim

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Tim,

Here is one I took in 2001.

[attachment=907:attachment]

Al

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Al, the lines of trajectory in your 2001 photo appear to be converging at a projected rate that would make the source, or shooter's position, be somewhere in the middle Commerce, the most southern of the three Plaza streets, or right at the curb at best. I believe that Tosh's estimation that the South Knoll shooter would have been up the South Knoll near the tree line to be more a more reasonable projection, both in terms of concealability and escape. As I mentioned previously, I couldn't get a photo from the general line of sight you suggest from higher up the Knoll near or behind the fence, because of the overgrowth of the tree and because of a remarkably heightened level of security in the South Knoll parking lot.

[attachment=905:attachment]

[attachment=908:attachment]

As for your statement, "Often, the most ideal location for shot origin, especially on a moving target, is a location that exposes the shooter the greatest," do you mean that I am correct in seeing that the source of the two South Knoll shots you propose, which is unrevealed because it is just below the bottom edge of your photo, would have been near curbside rather than high up near the fence?

[attachment=906:attachment]

Tim

Edited by Tim Carroll, 27 November 2004 - 05:17 PM.


#11 John Simkin

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 06:12 PM

You might find this photograph useful:

#12 John Simkin

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 06:14 PM

You will find a collection of photographs of Dealey Plaza here:

http://www.spartacus...JAMESdealey.htm

Let me know if you want any of them added to this thread.

#13 Ron Ecker

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 06:32 PM

Al,

Isn't it your view that the south knoll shooter was on the overpass, specifically behind the banister on the south end, where it slants eastward toward the parking lot? I believe this is what you have posted previously on the Lancer forum.

Interestingly, there is one significant witness who thinks a shot came from the overpass. At the 1996 December in Dallas conference, Mark Oakes showed a video interview with Dallas motorcycle officer H.B. McClain (he of the the stuck microphone fame), who states, "I think he was shot from that overpass and the picket fence." (Mark Oakes, "Witnesses to History," Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, Winter 1996-97, p. 49.)

Ron

#14 Guest_Tim Carroll_*

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 06:48 PM

Al,
Isn't it your view that the south knoll shooter was on the overpass, specifically behind the banister on the south end, where it slants eastward toward the parking lot? I believe this is what you have posted previously on the Lancer forum.
Interestingly, there is one significant witness who thinks a shot came from the overpass. At the 1996 December in Dallas conference, Mark Oakes showed a video interview with Dallas motorcycle officer H.B. McClain (he of the the stuck microphone fame), who states, "I think he was shot from that overpass and the picket fence." (Mark Oakes, "Witnesses to History," Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, Winter 1996-97, p. 49.)
Ron

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Ron,

This photo is from the ideal trajectory point of the overpass, in which Elm St. is most directly coming toward the proposed overpass shooter's line of sight.

[attachment=911:attachment]

However, there is scant evidence of anyone on the south side of the overpass, in contrast to the numerous "railroad workers" hanging right right above the Elm St. motorcade route.

[attachment=912:attachment]

Tim

#15 Ron Ecker

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 07:17 PM

This photo is from the ideal trajectory point of the overpass


By the ideal point do you mean from behind the banister, where it slants eastward toward the parking lot? This is where Al placed the shooter, I believe.

However, there is scant evidence of anyone on the south side of the overpass, in contrast to the numerous "railroad workers" hanging right right above the Elm St. motorcade route.


I don't get your point here. Any shooter on the south end of the overpass would try to avoid being seen, so naturally there would be "scant evidence" of anyone there.

I believe Al has stated that anyone behind the banister where it slants at the south end could not be seen by the people who were standing at the north end, because of the slant. Did you take note of this when you were there, or do you agree?

Ron



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